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Heart patients set to receive treatment tailored to their genetic and health information
  • May 23, 2024
  • Latest News

An innovative project using artificial intelligence (AI) to personalise therapies for patients with cardiovascular disease has kicked off at a meeting in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The NextGen project has received €7.6 million from the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and will be delivered by a 21-member consortium, including the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, accounting for nearly 18 million fatalities every year.2 In the EU, CVDs are responsible for approximately one in three deaths.3 CVD comes with a high price, and is estimated to cost the EU €282 billion annually, equivalent to 2% of Europe’s GDP.4 CVD also takes its toll on individuals, often leading to disability, absence from work, premature retirement, and absenteeism.

Personalised medicine, whereby prevention and treatment of disease is tailored to an individual’s unique genetic make-up and health information, holds promise for shifting the dial on the burden of CVD. Now is the time to harness the potential of individualised treatment. Genetic information is more readily available than ever before as the cost of laboratory analysis continues to fall, and cutting edge AI techniques make it possible to combine vast amounts of data in record time.

NextGen will capitalise on these trends by bringing together clinical research organisations, universities, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and professional associations to integrate multiple sources of data on individual people. This work is complex due to data privacy and governance requirements, the presence of multiple standards across Europe, varying formats of data, and the sheer volume of information.

The first step will be to map out the initiatives already underway to ensure that the project is truly ground-breaking and meets an unmet need. Consortium members will then develop novel tools to merge different types of data in a secure way that upholds individual privacy and allows the information to be used in research. The effectiveness of the methods for removing current barriers to data integration in CVD will be demonstrated in real-world pilot studies.

Consortium member Professor Panos Deloukas of Queen Mary University of London, UK, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity and a challenge we have in building the right toolbox that will allow [us] to unite CVD patient data across Europe and implement precision medicine to improve  cardiovascular healthcare.”

Project coordinator Professor Pim van der Harst of University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, said: “No two people are exactly the same, and so it makes sense that each person needs a slightly different strategy to optimise their health. Personalised medicine is therefore the way forward for preventing heart disease, speeding up diagnosis, and monitoring and treating people with CVD. To develop individualised therapies, we need to compile as much information as possible about individuals, and that’s where NextGen comes in. The unique picture we generate will then form the basis for improving cardiovascular health and wellbeing.”