It was mainly thanks to EU funds that 750 completely new instruments and technology were acquired and installed, of which more than 90 were absolutely unique. In sum, they involve more than 1,860 devices worth 1.11 billion CZK. This means that more than 50 research establishments and specialized workplaces now have new cutting-edge equipment. Taken together, they create a completely special research infrastructure that competes on a global scale.
The latest equipment especially includes the following:
Researchers at FNUSA-ICRC successfully transplanted a heart valve from a genetically modified pig to a “normal” specimen. Heart valves from domestic even-toed ungulates have already been used before; pigs have a tissue structure that is the most similar to humans. Doctors were thus able to save the life of singer Karel Štědrý in one case. The only disadvantage of transplanting cardiac valves from pigs is that they tend to calcify over time – calcium deposits impair the mobility of the valve. Due to greater exertion, the heart quickly tires. The modified gene is supposed to prevent this by making the tissue subject to less and slower degeneration.
Every year ten thousand heart operations are carried out in the Czech Republic, up to 40% of them on heart valves. Aortic stenosis (the most common type of valve defect) affects four percent of the population over 75 years old. There are millions of patients worldwide who need heart valve replacements. Biological heart valves have the advantage that patients need not take anticoagulants unlike those with mechanical implants. They are therefore not at risk of developing blood clots or internal bleeding.
There are only two other institutions throughout the world with similar genetically engineered pigs – Mayo Clinic in Rochester USA and University College London UK. If it can be shown that heart valves from genetically engineered pigs are not subject to degeneration, they could replace mechanical valves in the future, which would be of considerable benefit to patients.
More info here.
According to an analysis conducted by the daily Lidove noviny, the abundant and first-rate publishing activities of researchers at FNUSA-ICRC made it the third most active of the 48 research centers in the Czech Republic funded by RDIOP at the end of 2014.
In less than 5 years of the project, i.e. in the period from 2011 to September 2015, our researchers have contributed a total of 800 published works, including 604 publications in scientific journals with an impact factor (IF), 30% no less in journals with an impact factor of greater than 3. The number of citations according to the Web of Science (WOS) has reached 1920. A quarter of our scientific works have been published in journals that are in the top 25% of their fields according to WOS.
Our best works have been published in prestigious international scientific journals such as CHEMICAL REVIEWS (IF 46.568), CELL (IF 32.242), EUROPEAN HEART JOURNAL (IF 15.203), Nature Chemical Biology (IF 12.996), ACS Nano (IF 12.881), The American Journal of Psychiatry (IF 12.295) and the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY (IF 12.113).
In terms of the grant conditions, the publication indicator was fulfilled at 190% (as of September 2015).
A list of all published works can be found here.
FNUSA-ICRC has furthermore filed 5 patent applications to date with its partners. The joint application with Masaryk University for a new substance with potential use as a prostate cancer drug was successful. See here.
Another 3 patent applications have been made jointly with the Institute of Scientific Instruments at the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Prague company M&I for a new technology to diagnose heart disease. The patent application filed with the Mayo Clinic at the US Patent Office protects the new technology of epicardial cardio stimulation, epicardial mapping and ablation and epicardial defibrillation. Five members of FNUSA-ICRC took part in the research.
The tangible outputs of our research activities consist of another 12 reported results of applied research in the form of successfully registering 2 utility models, 3 types of software, and 6 prototypes. Processing applications for registering another 2 industrial and 3 utility models is pending.
Cardio Vision Brno 2030 is a unique long-term project in the Czech Republic and Europe aimed at mapping the current health risks of the four hundred thousand inhabitants of the city of Brno and minimizing these risks up to 2030 through preventive programs focused on cardiovascular disease.
This long-term research uses data from 965 residents of the city aged 25 to 64 years old. The research team of FNUSA-ICRC experts have shown, for example, that 34% of the population of Brno is exposed to tobacco smoke. It is the smoke of restaurants that is destroying their health the most – 25.5% of city residents. The analysis also found that a smoking ban in restaurants would be welcomed by 60.8% of smokers, 77.6% of former smokers and 88% of non-smokers in Brno.
Cardio Vision Brno 2030 works closely with many foreign scientists (who, for example, arrived in October 2014 for a conference on the harmful effects of tobacco), but also, for example, with the office of Brno-Healthy City. Together they successfully pushed through a ban on smoking at the Brno zoo.
A number of leading institutions (Harvard University, University of South Florida, Karolinska Institutet) and experts from London, Jerusalem and Brisbane have been engaged in the program. The aim is to create a bank of biological samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid for future genetic analysis and to evaluate biomarkers in patients with mild cognitive impairment and subjective memory disorders, who may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and furthermore a MRI database depicting longitudinal changes in the brain structure and metabolism of these subjects. Researchers have also focused on original methods that enable them to find people with increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms show, like tests of spatial navigation, specific psychological tests, coupled to the function of the hippocampus, the cerebral structures that are affected first in the development of the disease, or very sensitive questionnaires on subjective symptoms that could detect the disease in time. An equally important part of the program is to search for risk factors for the disease that could be impacted to delay the onset of the disease or halt its spread.
More info here.
Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or stroke by five years. This is the indication of extensive research that involved experts from FNUSA-ICRC. The results of the analysis were published in the prestigious journal Stroke and a report on the results were broadcasted during the prime time news of the American television station NBC News.
Researchers of the team Neuro 1 and statisticians of FNUSA-ICRC collaborated with colleagues from the University of South Florida and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on the analysis of data from 11,644 twins born between 1886-1925, who answered a questionnaire during the 1950s about the amount of alcohol they consumed and who were then monitored up until 2010 to see whether they suffered a stroke or other illness. The analyzed data comes from the largest registry of twins in the world.
Researchers have shown that consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day puts middle age people at the risk of CVA comparable to people with known risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It does not matter whether it is two pints of beer, two glasses of wine or two shots of liquor that are consumed – they all have a similar volume of alcohol.
The Neuro 1 team at FNUSA-ICRC has been involved in the research, prevention and treatment of stroke for many years now.
More info here.
At the very beginning of the project there was a special long-term collaboration between St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and the prestigious American Mayo Clinic, which is a major hospital, medical university, and one of the leading medical research centers in the world.
At present, there are a number of other institutions involved in the research activities of FNUSA-ICRC, not only from the USA and of course the Czech Republic and other EU countries, but also from other continents.
FNUSA-ICRC now has more than 40 national and 110 international academic and research partners it collaborates with in publishing, submitting applications for grants, exchanging experience and know-how within research internships, and closely in specific research projects and activities or filing joint patent applications.
Formal contractual collaboration has also been concluded with the following partners:
Karolinska Institutet (Sweden)
Korea Brain Research Institute (Korea)
Lund University (Sweden)
Mayo Clinic (USA)
Medical University of Gdańsk (Poland)
University College London (UK)
University of Calgary (Canada)
University of California San Diego (USA)
University of Minnesota (USA)
University of South Florida (USA)
FNUSA-ICRC does not confine itself to supporting research activities, but also stresses the widest possible awareness and education programs without regards to generational limits. Our project HOBIT (Biology lesson for life) has given pupils and students an entertaining way to learn how to recognize the symptoms of heart attack and stroke and how to respond to them correctly.
The HOBIT project and its young target group is based on the fact that the knowledge and skills a person needs to master for a lifetime are better acquired at an early age.
Two schoolchildren from Židlochovicko put these findings to good use in everyday life when they revived the vital functions of a man with cardiac arrest.
You can read about it here.
The project is currently continuing in the form of so-called ambassadors – young graduates of resuscitation courses who are sharing their skills with their classmates and peers.
Students can actively join in the research of FNUSA-ICRC within the framework of ICRC Akademy. It introduces them to career opportunities in research and science and supports them in their research activities.
In addition, students can also take part in Simulation centre exercises, which focuse on communication between medical staff, patients and their relatives. The project uniquely combines healthcare workers and professional actors who faithfully reenact situations with patients.
Thanks to collaboration with universities principally in Brno but also elsewhere, 39 young scientists have graduated from PhD programs that made use of the infrastructure and guidance of FNUSA-ICRC researchers. Obligations arising from grants at present allow for an indicator of 12 graduates.
Funding from synergic projects during the course of this project has created approximately 400 foreign study programs and internships, of which 117 are longer than 1 month and 225 consist of internships for researchers.
These internships were held in more than 60 institutions. Most of them were at the main partners of the project, namely the Mayo Clinic in their Rochester (Minnesota) and Scottsdale (Arizona) locations. Other institutions attended include the University of South Florida in the USA, Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden and the University of Calgary in Canada.
For the purpose of sharing know-how, conducting lectures and participating in working meetings, FNUSA-ICRC was visited by nearly 330 international experts, 54 of whom were only from the Mayo Clinic, as well as from the University of Minnesota and University of South Florida in the USA, the Heart of Mersey in Liverpool UK, the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, the Slovenian University Medical Centre Ljubljana, and from other leading universities and research centers.
A major shift towards understanding the mechanism behind certain types of breast and ovarian tumors was made by the Center of Biomolecular and Cell Engineering (CBCE), FNUSA-ICRC and Masaryk University. This discovery could mark a major shift in treatment and is such a breakthrough that one of the most prestigious scientific journals, Cell, reported it. Francis Crick Institute in the UK collaborated with Czech researchers on it.
Scientists have discovered a long-sought feature of one family of proteins that suppresses the formation of tumors. These proteins are involved in repairing breaks in DNA using the process of homologous recombination, which reproduces information from an undamaged DNA copy at the site where the break occurred. When this process fails, unrepaired mutations in DNA can cause cells to lose control over their growth and behavior, which can lead to the formation of tumors.
The description of the entire process is a tremendous breakthrough for researchers, although it does not represent an immediate benefit for terminal patients. But if the mechanism of the disease is known, they know what to focus on when determining risks. The authors of the research expect scientists to now devote their attention to this cause of cancer, which opens up a new realm of possibilities in the search for specific therapeutic substances. Part of the CBCE team is already dedicated to finding and testing substances that will kill specific types of tumors.
More info here.
Of a total of 249 milestones set out the terms of the RDIOP grant, which FNUSA-ICRC must achieve in this project (in the period 2010-2018), 77.5% of the milestones have now been met. Milestones are key outputs of the project which move the project along to the stated objectives and its mission.
An overview of already completed monitoring indicators used for monitoring the progress and outcome of the project in terms of the RDIOP grant:
MI 110502 Professional publications
MI 074902 Number of successful graduates of doctoral programs
MI 110300 Number of newly created jobs for R & D employees – total
MI 071900 Number of newly created jobs, researchers under 35 years of age
MI 110516 Advanced or renovated capacities
MI 110810 Number of researchers using existing infrastructure
Five years of successful clinical research in Brno. How well do you know us?
We are the International Clinical Research Centre at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno (FNUSA-ICRC) with a primary focus on research into cardiovascular and neurological diseases. Why them in particular? Because these diseases are currently the leading cause of death or permanently lower quality of life among the inhabitants of most developed countries. They concern us all.
We are looking for new methods, technologies and drugs that ensure better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. We are a unique project that directly links scientific activity and clinical practice. This allows us to perform not only basic but also tzv. translational research, which transfers research results from the laboratory straight into practice – to patients.
Since October 2011, we have been the only clinical research project with an exclusive focus on medical research in the Czech Republic that is funded through EU Structural Funds (Priority 1 of the Operational Programme “Research and Development for Innovation” – RDIOP).
This year is the last year of funding from RDIOP. How exactly did we make use of these investments? What have we achieved during these five years of support with EU funds? Find out all about them on this website.
The crucial part is now before us...
This is just the beginning. Our goal is to make FNUSA-ICRC a multidisciplinary center of excellence in translational medical research and still remain sustainable and able to compete internationally.
The research activities of the International Clinical Research Center FNUSA-ICRC will continue even after January 1, 2016 on in the original scope. The five-year project preparation and start-up of the research center from the operational program Research and Development for Innovation (RDIOP) will expire on 31 December 2015. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports already announced the results of the grant procedure from the National Programme for Sustainability (NPU) II. Based on the recommentation of en expert commission, the Ministry acknowledged the support for the five-year project FNUSA- ICRC Translational Medicine (Translational medicine - links between research and practice) in the amount of 1,018,254,000 crowns.
The outcome of the further development of FNUSA-ICRC will consist of:
The most important thing is that the entire project has lived up to its motto “WE CREATE THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE”.
Our discoveries and their direct benefits for patients in the Czech Republic and abroad are testament to this.