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USC CiMUS researchers open the door to new treatments for pathological vascular calcification

  • The aim of this work led by Ricardo Villa Bellosta from the Metabolic homeostasis and vascular calcification group is to develop new therapeutic strategies to help combat cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide today.
  • Through the Sumo Valor platform of the USC, this research project can receive donations from institutions, companies or civil society that favour new advances.  

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. One of the cardiovascular pathologies is called vascular calcification, which is being investigated by the group led by Ricardo Villa Bellosta at the CiMUS of USC. The study of this disease, which is associated with a series of common genetic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease and ageing, and how to tackle it from a therapeutic approach has been included in the USC's crowdfunding platform Sumo Valor, which seeks citizen participation to raise funds through donations. 


Vascular calcification, or the accumulation of calcium in the walls of arteries and heart valves, plays an important role in the development of heart and vascular disease. "In our group at the USC CiMUS we have managed to identify the metabolic pathway through which the main inhibitor of vascular calcification is synthesised," explains Ricardo Villa.  


Inhibiting the accumulation of calcium in the blood vessel wall is the key.

Calcium and phosphate combine to synthesise hydroxyapatite, the main component of bone and other hard tissues. "This is good and necessary for our survival, but when hydroxyapatite accumulates in soft tissues it is a major health problem, especially if it accumulates in the blood vessels, as it eventually leads to cardiovascular disease," says the CiMUS researcher. As a protective measure, our body synthesises inhibitors that prevent calcium from accumulating in the blood vessel wall. However, during ageing 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 research project," says Ricardo Villa Bellosta, "we plan to develop several strategies to increase the synthesis of this inhibitor internally and thus open the door to the development of various treatments that can improve the quality of life of our society.


Social involvement in the advancement of science 

The micro-donations project, promoted by the CiMUS of the USC, is part of the SUMO Valor platform of the USC, the initiative with which the University of Compostela wants to promote interaction with society and create a meeting point that involves companies, institutions and civil society in the projects it develops in areas such as research, culture and sports. The study directed by Ricardo Villa Bellosta exemplifies the commitment of this platform to the development of science in fields such as biomedicine and healthcare.

Any individual or legal entity can make a micro-donation through this platform or through the CiMUS donation area. From the donor's point of view, in addition to direct participation in the research, this donation has tax advantages since, as it is for a research project, a tax deduction can be obtained.