Research into the relationship between heart failure and kidney failure

The combination of heart failure and kidney failure is also called ‘cardiorenal syndrome’.

AMICARE opened in Aachen on 20 October. At this research institute, researchers from Maastricht UMC+ and RWTH Aachen are working together to unravel the link between cardiovascular problems and kidney disease. It is one of the first European institutes where researchers from different countries of different disciplines are collaborating intensively on this urgent medical problem.

The combination of heart failure and kidney failure is also called ‘cardiorenal syndrome’. This is a common problem: more than 40% of patients with heart failure also have kidney failure. However, not much is known about it. It’s clear that people with chronic kidney disease have an increased risk of heart failure. Conversely, people with reduced blood pressure (heart failure) have more kidney problems than average. However, cause and effect is often not clear.

Researchers and Professors Eric Bessen, Leon Schurgers and Tillman Hacking from the Maastricht Cardiovascular Research Institute (CARIM) of Maastricht UMC+ conduct research in cardiovascular disease, having worked closely with RWTH Aachen for more than 15 years. Building on the successful collaboration within two major European research projects coordinated by each of these institutes, they have drawn up plans for further collaborations with the initiators and professors at Aachen Joachim Jankowski, Jürgen Flügi, Nicholas Marx and Dr. Heidi Noels. This led to the creation of the dual and binational research institute AMICARE, with a laboratory on the campus in Aachen. AMICARE stands for “Aachen Maastricht Institute of Cardiology and Nephrology”.

The best of both worlds
Leon Schurgers of MUMC+, Professor of Vascular Calcification Biochemistry, is pleased: “With AMICARE, we combine the best of both worlds. In Maastricht, for example, we have a great deal of knowledge of the molecular side of cardiovascular disease. RWTH Aachen has a great deal of Expertise in kidney research and has a number of unique groups and biobanks with data from people with chronic kidney disease.The technology available in each university is also complementary.If you combine the expertise and technology of both centers, you can conduct more and more targeted research.

across the border
The collaboration crosses borders in two ways, explains Erik Biessen, Professor of Experimental Vascular Pathology at Maastricht UMC + Erik Biessen: “Of course we are breaking national boundaries. Fortunately, this is happening more and more often in science. But the best researchers from different fields also work together in AMICARE: The Cardiovascular System and the Kidney. These are areas of research that are still often operated separately. This collaboration allows us to look at our patients in a more holistic way and study their entire complex disease.

Translated Research
The Research Institute focuses on translational research that aims to translate basic research findings into applications for the patient. This means that, on the one hand, researchers will continue to investigate the mechanisms and causes of convergence of cardiovascular and kidney problems. But on the other hand, scientists also expect to be able to accelerate research into early recognition and treatment of this syndrome with AMICARE, for example with medication.

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AMICARE: cross-border research into the relationship between heart failure and kidney failure
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