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European funding to solve the major challenge of preventing sudden cardiac death

Congratulations to Prof. Michel Haïssaguerre awarded by the European Research Council under the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant 2021 for his project HELP.

Sudden cardiac death is responsible for 350,000 deaths each year in Europe and about 10% of total adult mortality worldwide. The objective of the HELP programme is to address the challenge of preventing sudden cardiac death, by developing an innovative non-invasive rhythm mapping system, which can identify in fine the subjects at risk of sudden cardiac death.

A highly selective call for projects

The European Research Council has just announced the winners of the ERC Advanced Grant 2021, which rewards top-level researchers who demonstrate leadership in their scientific area. They focus on ambitious and risky research projects exploring the knowledge frontier and addressing innovative scientific issues or challenges. The €626 million ERC-2021-AdG call will fund nearly 250 projects from over 1,700 submissions.

Prof. Michel Haïssaguerre, Chairman and Co-founder of the IHU Liryc, Head of the Department of Cardiology, Electrophysiology and Cardiac Pacing at the University Hospital of Bordeaux, has been granted a €2.5 million 5-year grant for the HELP project, supported by the University of Bordeaux.

Preventing 320 000 to 400 000 sudden cardiac deaths each year in Europe

The HELP programme aims to address a major public health challenge: the prevention of sudden cardiac death. Caused by ultra-rapid ventricular arrhythmias so called ventricular fibrillations, sudden cardiac death causes 320 000 to 400 000 deaths each year in Europe and 10% of total worldwide. However, the challenge is very paradoxical: several very efficient treatments are currently available to prevent these deaths due to ventricular arrhythmias, but unfortunately we do not know who are the high-risk patients. Almost 40% of sudden deaths result from a complication of heart disease (e.g. acute myocardial infarction) and are potentially reducible through risk factor prevention and coronary ischaemia. The programme aims to develop a non-invasive external heart mapping therapy system capable of identifying these high-risk patients. The unique approach proposed to achieve this goal will involve a combination of two methods of electrocardiographic mapping and ultrasonic pacing to detect critical signals present at the micro-scale of the heart within the origin area of arrhythmias.

The ability to detect and influence cardiac electrical signals will also have a significant impact on the management of other cardiac diseases, allowing earlier diagnosis and better referral to drug or interventional therapies (ablations, implantable defibrillators, etc).

"The project will improve our understanding of sudden cardiac death, which is a public health priority, and potentially revolutionise electrocardiographic methods that have been unchanged for decades. Above all, it will help prevent these tragic deaths, which occur suddenly and are usually experienced as 'illegitimate' in apparently healthy subjects. Professor Michel Haissaguerre, Chairman and Co-founder of Liryc

Being laureate of such a highly competitive and challenging call for proposals once again underlines the excellence of Professor Michel Haissaguerre's work, as well as his exceptional national and international scientific reputation.

For more details, read the press release here.

Published on 26 April 2022