MediAim

Research of diseases

We focus on experimental, preclinical, translational, and clinical research of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the central nervous system, viral and oncological diseases.

Obesity

Obesity is defined as an increase in body weight beyond the normal range resulting from the excessive accumulation of fat in the body. The increasing occurrence of obesity is a serious medical problem in practically all developed countries. In the Czech Republic, more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese, and the number of such patients continues to grow. The cost of treating obesity and related complications makes up 20% of the overall cost of healthcare and is constantly rising. Because there are no drugs available yet with proven long-term safety and efficacy that can achieve substantial and lasting weight reduction, obesity remains a serious medical problem. The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is the development of new drugs offering effective and long-lasting weight reduction while also facilitating prevention of obesity-related complications, namely type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

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Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disease resulting from a long-term increase in blood sugar levels. If diabetes is not treated adequately, elevated blood sugar levels can lead to serious complications, namely an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, shortened life expectancy, and damage to the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The most common form of diabetes is type 2, which typically occurs in middle-aged and older individuals and is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, arterial hypertension, and lipid metabolism disorders. In the Czech Republic, nearly 10% of the population currently suffers from diabetes. The cost of treating the disease accounts for 15–20% of the overall cost of healthcare, two thirds of which is spent on treating chronic complications. The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is the development of new drugs with a comprehensive effect on diabetic compensation and diabetes-related diseases that can facilitate prevention and provide effective therapy.

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Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases represent the leading cause of death in most European countries, including the Czech Republic, where they account for half of all deaths. At the same time, however, the Czech Republic lags far behind Western Europe. Compared with France, for instance, the country’s mortality rate for cardiovascular diseases is nearly three times higher. Despite significant advances, it is evident that the development of new therapeutic methods and pharmaceuticals for the treatment of heart failure and other forms of cardiovascular disease represents a priority in biomedical research. The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS in this area is the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods for the treatment of heart failure and the cardiovascular diseases that precede it, such as coronary atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillations, hypertension and age-related damage to the arteries and valves.

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Diseases of the central nervous system

Nervous system diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, chronic pain, and epilepsy, represent a serious therapeutic problem with a substantial social and economic impact on the whole of society, particularly due to the prevalence of these diseases in older age groups. At present, there are very limited treatment options for these conditions, and they are usually accompanied with a number of adverse side effects. There is an unmet medical need for the development of new drugs to treat these diseases that requires investigation of the underlying mechanisms. The goal of the collaboration between IOCB, IPHYS, and IKEM is research of the mechanisms behind the development of nervous system diseases and the rational design and preclinical testing of new potential drugs. Currently, our strategy is based primarily on the development and modification of substances known as neurosteroids, which form within the body and can substantially influence the function of various receptors.

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Viral diseases

Viral infections present a significant complication in organ transplant patients. So-called posttransplant immunosuppression, where the suppressed immune system is unable to respond to infection, is primarily associated with the transmission or reactivation of herpesviruses and polyomaviruses, which contribute significantly to increased morbidity and mortality as well as to increased costs related to treatment of these complications. As yet, there is no treatment for the disease. Viral hepatitis presents another serious complication for posttransplant patients, namely hepatitis B, C, and E infections. While hepatitis C is now curable thanks to direct-acting antiviral drugs, there are still no registered drugs for hepatitis B and C. Viral myocarditis is also a relatively common disease. There are practically no specific therapy options available. The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is the development of an effective antiviral therapy for use in a wide spectrum of patients, including those either awaiting organ transplantation or already recovering from it.

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Oncologic diseases

The occurrence of oncologic diseases in the Czech Republic is steadily rising, in part due to an aging population and unhealthy lifestyle. For many of the diseases, treatment options are still very limited, and the long-term prognosis is not good. Examples of such diseases are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and other malignant tumors of the digestive tract. Currently, hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common reason for liver transplantation The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is the discovery of serum and genetic markers enabling early identification of patients at high risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. A fundamental problem from the standpoint of diagnostics, treatment, and long-term prognosis present also pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer. The goal of the collaboration in this area is to improve early diagnosis of these diseases and provide patients with tailored treatment.

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