Scientists from UMC Groningen and Pivot Park Screening Centre have started a study with the objective to prevent one of the causes of heart failure. It is the first time that a protein related to protection of the heart muscle from stiffening, will be screened to discover a starting point for development of a new medicine. The study builds on the earlier work by cardiologist Van der Meer and his team. Pivot Park Screening Centre’s ultra High Throughput Screening facilities and expertise are used to discover matches between the protein and compounds. This collaboration is financed by Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (designated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in 2011) to stimulate Public-Private Partnerships and is supported by the Dutch Heart Foundation (Hartstichting).
“This study is of great importance, since heart failure caused by the stiffening of the cardiac muscle, is a severe disease, with no good options for treatment, ” tells Marina Senten, leader of Alliance, Science and Innovation at The Dutch Heart Foundation. “If we do nothing, more and more people will suffer from heart failure. Research on this topic is one of our top priorities. We therefore facilitated this Public-Private Partnership. This study reinforces our other studies on early detection and prevention of heart failure.”
During earlier studies van der Meer and his research group identified the protein that is capable to protect the cardiac muscle from stiffening. “Identifying this protein was the first step in this process. We are very pleased that we’re able to continue our study and start looking for compounds that have the ability to increase the protein’s activity”, tells van der Meer.
Pivot Park Screening Centre’s robotic facilities make it possible to discover matches between the protein and the 300.000 compounds that will be tested. “First we will develop an assay, or testing environment, making it possible to screen the protein in our robotic system. 300.000 compounds will be tested and re-tested to determine which compounds are the best activators for this protein,” tells Helma Rutjes, Chief Operations Officer at PPSC. When matching compounds are found, the process of optimization will start, resulting in tests on human cardiac cells.