Fighting calcification of the arteries to prevent cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Vascular calcification, or calcium build-up in the artery wall, plays an important role in the development of heart and vascular disease.
Calcium and phosphate combine to synthesize hydroxyapatite, the main component of bone and other hard tissues. While this is good and necessary for our survival, when hydroxyapatite accumulates in soft tissues it is a major health problem, especially if it accumulates in the blood vessels, eventually leading to cardiovascular disease.
As a protective measure, our body synthesizes inhibitors that prevent calcium from accumulating in the blood vessel wall. However, during aging and in certain diseases such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease, the process of calcium accumulation in blood vessels is accelerated. This occurs, in part, due to the loss of inhibitor synthesis.
In this context, the CiMUS group of the USC led by Ricardo Villa Bellosta has managed to identify the metabolic pathway by which the main inhibitor of vascular calcification is synthesized. In this project, it is planned to develop several strategies to increase the synthesis of this inhibitor internally and open the door to the development of various treatments that could improve the quality of life in our society.