Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Early detection can prevent heart failure and other complications, but screening is currently time consuming. EU-funded researchers are looking to change this with a cost-effective tool capable of detecting a patient’s risk of heart failure from their saliva.
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The COSMOS project focuses on biomarkers – measurable indicators used by scientists to identify a specific biological condition. This is an increasingly influential line of research for heart disease, and specific biomarkers have been found to play a key role in regulating cardiac structure and function. Others could signal the progression of a disease.
Biomarker research has helped medical researchers achieve quicker and more accurate diagnoses, and to develop more targeted therapies. Diseases of the heart and circulatory system lead to over four million deaths each year in Europe. In particular, heart failure accounts for almost 1.1 million deaths each year.
Up until now however, most biomarkers used in this field of research have been found in plasma or blood. COSMOS researchers are taking an innovative approach by studying biomarkers present in saliva. If saliva testing proves to be an effective means of identifying biomarkers, then it could open the door to minimally invasive and more cost-effective techniques.
COSMOS will build on recent advances in scientific understanding of the complexity of saliva – which can contain more than 3 000 different proteins on average.
The design of the proposed point-of-care sample device has been made possible thanks to the complementary fields of expertise of the host institution at the University of Lyon and an experienced incoming researcher, who is being funded through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship.