The EU approved a EUR2 million grant to the VASOPLUS consortium, a development program for a new class of pro-angiogenesis agents. The research for VASOPLUS will be conducted within a consortium comprising ThromboGenics, Geymonat, Roche Diagnostics, Eurogentec, University of Leuven (Cardiology Department) in Belgium, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Italy, and University of the Free State in South Africa.
The financial support, which will come from EU's Framework Programme 6, will contribute over the next two years to the further development of placental growth factor (PlGF) and analogues of this pro-angiogenic cytokine for treatment of ischemic heart disease, peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD), tissue regeneration, and wound healing.
"This funding from the European Community for the VASOPLUS program will assist us to further develop our understanding of the importance of PlGF, and to demonstrate the advantages of this growth factor over similar treatment options, including VEGF," says Desire Collen, CEO and chairman of ThromboGenics.
The pro-angiogenic growth factor PlGF is a homologue of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). While VEGF has shown promise in the treatment of ischemic conditions, its therapeutic potential is hampered by dose-limiting side effects, informs ThromboGenics. Therefore, it is thought that PlGF, due to its more specific activity and targeted pro-angiogenic effect, may allow for an improved risk-benefit ratio, with fewer side effects than VEGF.
Toxicology and safety pharmacology studies have been completed both by ThromboGenics and Geymonat in vivo, showing that PlGF is well tolerated even at doses much higher than needed for efficacy.