CARIM researchers successful in ZonMw Open Competition

Three research teams coordinated by CARIM researchers are starting their projects funded with money from the Open Competition of grant provider ZonMw. Each research team will receive €750,000 on average.

AVF failure in renal failure - Prof. Andrew Baker
Worldwide, an estimated 3 million patients with end-stage renal disease are treated with hemodialysis for survival. Hemodialysis requires access to the blood vessels to transport the patient's blood to the dialysis machine. An arteriovenous fistula (AVF), in which an artery is directly connected to a vein, is therefore created surgically, usually in the arm. However, this intervention often fails, posing a huge clinical problem for this patient population. This problem will only increase in the coming years due to an increase in patients with diabetes and end-stage renal disease. Therapies to prevent AVF failure are lacking because it is unclear why the AVF fails. Therefore, Prof. Andrew Baker's team wants to better understand this process and develop therapies for AVF surgery to prevent AVF failure. This will improve the outcomes of AVF surgery.

New therapeutic targets for DCM? - Prof. Erik Biessen & Prof. Stephane Heymans
In the Netherlands, 80,000 people suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease that causes life-threatening arrhythmias and heart failure, often at a young age, with major emotional and economic consequences. Less than half of patients respond to current standard treatment. DCM is a heterogeneous disease, in which the hereditary form is characterized by metabolic changes. It is unclear whether these metabolic changes directly lead to fibrosis and inflammation, or indirectly, via certain cell types in the heart, the macrophage, known to control fibrosis, inflammation and heart function. Based on their expertise in macrophage biology, clinical DCM pathophysiology and knowledge of advanced single-cell technology, Prof. Erik Biessen and Prof. Stephane Heymans aim to define new therapeutic targets for treatment of genetic DCM.

Recovery process of the heart after infarction? - Dr Matthijs Blankesteijn
After a heart attack, part of the heart muscle cells are replaced by scar tissue. This scar tissue does not contribute to pump function, which can cause heart failure, a condition with a 5-year survival of only 50 percent. The core idea of the research team, led by Dr Matthijs Blankesteijn, is that the repair process of the heart after an infarction must be adjusted by reducing scarring and giving the heart's natural ability to repair the damage. Recent research in zebrafish shows that their heart has this natural ability to regenerate, preventing scarring. With a team of experts in the field of repair processes and biomaterials, Matthijs wants to develop a material that on the one hand supports the infarct area and thus prevents rupture, and on the other hand releases medicines to stimulate the natural repair process.

ZonMw Open Competition
The ZonMw Open Competition programme is specifically intended for researchers from two or more disciplines who promote excellent team science in a synergistic manner. The applications were therefore tested and ranked on these points on the basis of the criteria of relevance and quality. Because knowledge utilization and participation are also important criteria, all successful applications have a convincing plan for knowledge utilization, with well-considered plans for implementation and broad stakeholder participation. As of 2022, an extra 60 million euros will be structurally available for the Open Competitions of the four domains of NWO, including Medical Research and Healthcare Innovation (Source: ZonMw)