Responsible for 17.7 million deaths per year and representing 31 per cent of global mortality, cardiovascular diseases, which affect the heart and blood, are the number one cause of death worldwide1.
Building on 120 years of innovation
A non-communicable disease, such as cardiovascular disease, more commonly affects adults or older people2. At Bayer, we are facing an uphill battle as the incidences of such illnesses rise as a result of the steadily aging global population.
We are proud of our heritage in providing new treatment options for patients suffering from heart and blood conditions. In 1899, we produced a chemically pure and stable form of acetylsalicylic acid, which is widely recognized as a therapy not only for relieving headaches but also for preventing heart attacks for some at-risk patients. Our portfolio has increased since then to treat people suffering from a wide range of cardiovascular diseases from hypertension to our widely used treatment for thrombosis.
There’s still more to do to help those patients in need
While we have helped – and still are helping – many patients suffering from serious cardiovascular conditions, we are aware that there are many people who, sadly, have fewer options. For example, more than 60 million people3 globally have heart failure, and despite advances in how we manage the disease, heart failure remains as malignant as some common cancers4 – 50 per cent of patients die within five years of diagnosis5.
Fostering innovation in a challenging landscape
Despite the progress that has been made thus far, the area of cardiovascular research faces tough challenges. There are patients suffering from diseases where few options exist. We are constantly seeking new approaches to further improve drug development of innovative medicines. We won’t rest in researching new treatment approaches for patients with cardiovascular diseases, including adjacent conditions such as kidney and lung diseases. We are working in collaboration with leading scientific, academic, and industry partners to improve our understanding of cardiovascular diseases and find innovative approaches for patients.
Partnering to provide more options to patients
Who do we partner with?
In August 2018, we entered into collaboration with Haplogen, a Vienna-based biotechnology company, to identify and develop new ways of treating pulmonary diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Finding solutions for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
You might know COPD colloquially as “smoker’s cough” as it is associated with a cough most often caused by smoking or in patients who have been frequently exposed to other kinds of smoke. COPD patients are vulnerable to something called “COPD exacerbations”, which is a sudden worsening of symptoms which lasts for several days and causes damage to the lungs.
COPD exacerbations can be brought on when the patient contracts a viral respiratory infection. In this case, one possible treatment approach is to stop the virus from replicating itself. The goal of our research alliance with Haplogen is to develop new compounds to stop the virus multiplying and thereby reducing serious COPD exacerbations for patients who currently have limited options.
Who do we partner with?
In 2016, we began our collaboration with Evotec to look into ways to treat kidney diseases such as chronic kidney disease in diabetes patients. We also partner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, Tennessee, to fight kidney diseases. This collaboration does not focus on any particular kidney disease; the scope of the research projects is broad and includes looking into progression of chronic kidney disease and diabetic kidney disease.
Finding solutions for patients with diabetic kidney disease
In chronic kidney disease, the kidneys progressively lose their ability to function over a period of months to years. As the kidney function deteriorates, this leads to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) where patients eventually have to undergo dialysis or kidney transplants. Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is one of the most frequent complications of diabetes, with around 40 per cent of Type 2 diabetes patients developing diabetic kidney disease6. Diabetes is also the most common cause of ESRD. DKD patients have a higher risk of cardiovascular events compared to patients with type 2 diabetes alone. Our collaboration with Evotec here is a significant joint effort to try and tackle kidney diseases, especially in patients who are also diabetic.
Heart and vascular diseases
Who do we partner with?
In 2015, we entered into collaboration with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard on cardiovascular genomics and drug discovery. More recently, in June 2018, we launched a joint Precision Cardiology Laboratory together with the Broad Institute which is located at their premises in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The latter project is focused on better understanding how cardiovascular diseases affect the function of the body on a cellular and molecular level and to derive therapies through novel technologies.
Finding solutions for cardiovascular patients by looking at genetics
In our cardiogenomics partnership with the Broad Institute, we are looking to use insights gained from human genetics to help create new cardiovascular therapies. While the majority of cardiovascular disease can be attributed to lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, diet and level of physical activity, some genes can influence if someone is predisposed to cardiovascular diseases. If we can discover genes and mutational changes underlying cardiovascular disorders, we may be able to develop new therapies and diagnostic options for these diseases.
Finding solutions for patients with heart failure, atrial fibrillation and vascular dysfunction
The research carried out in the joint Precision Cardiology Laboratory will focus primarily on patients with heart failure, atrial fibrillation and vascular dysfunction. By using tissue samples from both healthy individuals and people with cardiovascular diseases, the researchers have stronger ability to map out cells and tissues, providing greater insight into such diseases and the types of innovations we can create to provide options for patients.