A therapeutic target is any molecular structure in an organism, which could be interfered with pharmacologically to achieve a desired therapeutic effect in hindering the disease. Modern approaches in drug discovery aim to elucidate disease processes to identify relevant molecules, which contribute to the development of disease. A therapeutic target results in a desirable therapeutic effect once its activity is modified by a potential drug. Commonly therapeutic targets, also referred to as drug targets, are proteins, but are also nucleic acids (such as DNA or RNA).
The development of new therapies is a slow process. Therefore developing novel and more efficient strategies for validating additional targets is essential to improve cardiovascular disease treatment with novel drugs.
The main objective of the sysVASC consortium is to study the processes contributing to progression of early cardiovascular disease, to identify relevant therapeutic targets and to validate them in suitable models of disease. By integrating a wide variety of data from animal and clinical studies the consortium will be able to identify and validate the most promising potential therapeutic targets.
Not all factors identified as key regulators in the development of cardiovascular disease will be prime targets for therapeutic intervention. Validation of drug targets is therefore an important step in improving the chances of successful development of a new treatment. Using a systems based approach will identify networks in which potential drug targets are critically involved and therefore reveal the most powerful targets for intervention.
There are three key, innovative aspects to target discovery in sysVASC:
- State-of-the-art systems biology based approaches will be applied to integrate available high quality molecular and clinical data. This kind of analysis will allow for the identification of causative events linking clinically relevant disease endpoints to predict potential therapeutic targets.
- Key factors involved in disease of humans and in animal models will be compared, leading to the identification of the best models for certain aspects of disease progression in humans.
- Novel predicted therapeutic targets from humans will be validated in the proper pre-clinical models to further guide drug design studies in the future.