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Preventing cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular troubles linked to coronary diseases remain the main cause of mortality and morbidity throughout the world. NanoCardio is an Interreg project focused on the prevention of these diseases.

What ? To detect precociously the vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques. How ? With a non-invasive imaging technique with great resolution.

A cross-border program

Interreg brings closer the skills and expertise’s of partners from the cross-border zone. The University of Mons (UMons), the University of Gent (UGent) and the University of Reims (URCA) are collaborating with a range of collaborators from France and Belgium.

ERDF financing : 801.338,91

Total cost : 1.602.677,85 €



Opérateur chef de file


opérateur #1

Logo UGent

Opérateur #2



The program of European territorial cooperation Interreg France-Wallonia-Flanders aims to favor the economic and social exchanges between five frontier regions : regions “Haut-de-France” and “Grand Est” in France, Wallonia, west and oriental Flanders in Belgium.

It aims at associating common skills while valuing the wealth of every concerned region, for the benefit of the populations in these regions.

The Nanocardio project combines 7 operators whose leader is the UMons. Other main operators are the University of Ghent and the University of Reims.

Detection of atherosclerotic plaques by MRI and optical imaging

Characterized by the deposit of lipids in the walls of the arteries, the atherosclerosis is a trouble which contributes to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

The determining role of the vulnerable plaque in the genesis of the syndromes explains the need and the interest in developing new imaging protocols for its detection. In the near future, new techniques should allow the tissue characterization and the quantification of atherosclerotic wounds.

Among these methods, the MRI is one of the most promising.


Cardiovascular events

  • Main causes of mortality and morbidity throughout the world
  • Risk factors : age, overweight…

Implication for the cross-border

  • Population ageing : for 2030, one in four people will be senior
  • Prevalence within the zone : 36% of men and 24% of women

Current diagnosis methods

  • Angiography which requires the invasive placement of IV line and the injection of iodinated contrast agents (allergies)
  • Doppler, which is a non-invasive method but with a lack of specificity

Aims of the project

Development of bimodal probes for the detection and the analysis of atherosclerotic plaques by medical imaging (MRI and optical imaging)

Implemented activities

The UMons is the leadership of the NanoCardio project. Two laboratories of the UMons are involved in the project, the laboratory of NMR and Molecular Imaging (Pr. S. Laurent) and the Cardiology Unit (Pr. S. Carlier).

  • Project management
  • Communication
  • Nanoplatforms synthesis
  • Nanoplatforms assembly with peptides and contrast agents
  • Magnetic and optical imaging on in vitro and in vivo models

Concerning the scientific implementation of the project, the University of Reims Champagne Ardenne (URCA) has expertise in the development and the characterization of contrast agents for MRI and optical imaging.

  • Synthesis of the contrast agents for MRI and optical imaging
  • Nanoplatforms assembly with peptides and contrast agents

The contribution of the University of Gent (UGENT) in this project will be to evaluate the toxicological properties of the nanoplatforms developed by the UMons and the URCA for the imaging of the blood vessels.

Concerning the safety aspect, which is of crucial importance for the developed nanoplatforms, the GRGN has a lot of experience in the field of drug nanocarriers and will make the most of that experience to study the toxicological properties of the developed nanoplatorms.

Evaluation of :

  • The innocuousness of the bimodal probes
  • Their biological and cytotoxic properties
  • Their hematocompatibility


By bringing together the skills of partners from the cross-border zone France-Wallonia-Flanders, the NanoCardio project covets to develop multifunctional and biocompatible nanometric probes dedicated to the visualization and the analysis of atherosclerotic plaques.

The aim is to detect the evolution of the plaques as soon as possible to allow appropriate health service for the patients. Moreover, this project will be carried out so that the preclinical development of these nanoplatforms can be considered at the end of the project.

Finally, as this concern is a major public health challenge worldwide, the results of the NanoCardio project could be transposed at that scale.

The team

Sophie Laurent

Maleotane Ndiaye

Thomas Vangijzegem

Francoise Chuburu

Cyril Cadiou

Juliette Moreau

Volodymyr Malytskyi

Stefaan De Smedt

Felix Sauvage

Mario Cordisco



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