Online Inaugural Lecture Prof. dr. Paula da Costa Martins

The title of the lecture is: "Little messages, big hearts"

Paula da Costa Martins, chair of Molecular Microvascular Biology.

Can little messages trigger heart failure? Can we use little messages to treat heart failure?

The current treatments for heart disease aim at managing the symptoms, lowering the risk of death and need for hospitalization, and improving quality of life. In other words, they do not cure the disease, but only slow down the process and make the disease more tolerable.

Efficient treatment strategies require full understanding of the disease mechanisms at both molecular and cellular levels. Instead of aiming at the coding genome, we should now dig deeper and not be afraid of the complex non-coding players. As the coding players have not yield effective treatments, it is time to change our mindset and take the challenge. MicroRNAs, as the name says, are tiny RNA molecules that do not code for protein but play a major role in gene regulation. By targeting one single microRNA we can target single communication pathways and, in this way, have a greater impact on the cellular and organ response to a cardiac insult. These tiny messages do not only play a role within the source cardiac cell but are also transferred to the surrounding cells within specific vesicles, affecting their function in particular and cardiac function in general. Such way of intercellular communication contributes to a perfectly orchestrated cell response to stress, where each cardiac cell type is a protagonist. Research within the chair of molecular microvascular biology contributes to unveiling and understanding the role of each player, both crucial to better define treatments and design new drugs for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases.
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