New therapeutic approach for the preventive treatment of atherosclerotic diseases

GO-Bio 1 – PD Dr. Dorothea Siegel-Axel – Department of Cardiology, University Clinic Tübingen | corimmun GmbH

Vier Querschnitte durch eine Artierie zeigen verschiedene Schweregrade von Arterienverkalkung

Juan Gärtner - Fotolia

Recipient: Department of Cardiology, University Clinic Tübingen
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.04.2007 - 31.12.2008, 674.141 Euro)


Foam cells that form in the inner walls of blood vessels are a characteristic of atherosclerosis, also known as ‘arterial calcification’. It remains unclear why these foam cells form in this particular part of the body, although it is known is that they trace back to scavenger cells (macrophages) that migrate into the vessels and absorb fats, in particular cholesterol. For this reason, previous therapies for the treatment of atherosclerosis have been predominantly aimed at the inhibition of central mechanisms of cholesterol biosynthesis through the use of ‘statins’, which are often associated with side effects. A team headed by Dorothea Siegel-Axel has now developed a therapeutic approach that is more precise in its targeting of foam cell formation.

The focus thereby is on specific receptors on the surface of scavenger cells that are decisive for cholesterol intake. Through the use of a receptor-like protein to capture the cholesterol, the therapeutic strategy is aimed at specifically reducing and blocking this intake. The project funding will be used in the establishment of a company that will prepare this procedure for use in atherosclerotic high-risk patients as well as develop a drug candidate up to phase IIa clinical trials. An assessment of the potential of the receptor-like protein as a diagnostic marker in imaging procedures is also being considered.