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i3S and INESC TEC part of European project for the prevention, diagnosis, and monitoring of cardiovascular diseases

The European Commission's Horizon Europe Programme recently awarded €7M to the European project CARE-IN-HEALTH, whose Portuguese partners are the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health of the University of Porto (i3S) and the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC). The five-year project, involving 10 European partners, aims to develop and test technological tools for the prevention, diagnosis, and monitoring of cardiovascular diseases.

24th October 2022

Coordinated by the French Institut National de la Sante et de La Recherche Medicale (Inserm), CARE-IN-HEALTH focuses on one of the leading causes of death and morbidity worldwide: cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). In Europe alone, CVDs are responsible for 1.9 million deaths per year and the costs associated with treating these diseases are estimated at 200 billion euros. "This is a public health issue that has been very difficult to control and to prevent, not only because of unhealthy lifestyles, but also because cardiovascular risk reduction therapies, which aim to prevent the formation of plaques in the arteries, seriously compromise the immune system", explained the researchers from both institutes.

Considering that high levels of blood lipids are directly associated with the evolution of cardiovascular health-disease transition - since they trigger chronic inflammation that increases the risk of CVDs like myocardial infarction and strokes -, CARE-IN-HEALTH aims to develop new prevention strategies based precisely on the reduction of said inflammation.

The i3S team, which will receive €788K, is coordinated by the researcher Inês Mendes Pinto, with researchers João Relvas, Miguel Neves and Paulo Aguiar. The i3S' role in this project "is to develop a portable technology (CARE-IN-HEALTH BIOSENSOR) to monitor the resolution of inflammation in a minimally invasive way (through a small volume of blood)", explained Inês Mendes Pinto.

The INESC TEC team is coordinated by the researcher João Paulo Cunha, professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, and features researcher Duarte Dias; they will contribute with their vast experience in advanced biosignal processing and the development of portable medical devices. INESC TEC will receive €340K, and the researchers will support the interconnection of said biosensor, a mobile application, and a cloud system, in order to monitor inflammatory biomarkers and integrate this data with other clinical parameters to assess the risk of disease.

"This project will be an excellent opportunity to apply our advanced knowledge in the design and development of portable medical devices at the service of a biosensor technology with significant potential to the future of CVDs management", said João Paulo Cunha.

The CARE-IN-HEALTH will also focus on collecting and compiling epidemiological, multi-economic and immunological data, which will be available to the entire scientific community and health professionals, via a specific platform. These data will not only identify and validate an individual's critical immune pathways, using Artificial Intelligence and clinical translation tools, but also, and more importantly, will allow experts to design a custom model to treat each citizen's condition. The team will also develop a multi-criteria digital medical decision support system to guide healthcare professionals in the design of custom CVDs prevention strategies.

All these tools, including the portable biosensor, will be tested in real-world settings through two proof-of-concept clinical trials, which will be take place at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, one of the world's leading medical universities.