Published: 2018-10-23 12:58 | Updated: 2019-12-10 15:18

Lars Jakobsson group part of large EU-funded international research and training network for vascular anomalies

A new European network studying molecular mechanisms causing vascular anomalies just got funded 3.7 million Euros from the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative training networks programme. The network, called V.A. Cure, has the aim to develop novel precision therapies for these handicapping diseases. Lars Jakobsson’s group from Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics is part of the network.

What is this network all about?

Lars JakobssonScientifically we aim to acquire insight on how specific genetic alterations, either inherited or sporadic, selectively affect the blood- and lymph vessel architecture to cause disease, with highest incidence in children. The seven research groups and several companies in the network hold specific expertise relating to these diseases, spanning from identification of novel mutations in patients, through generation of mouse- and zebra fish models and advanced imaging, to cell signalling and drug development.

The acquired knowledge will not only be relevant for vascular anomalies but may resolve fundamental principles of how the vasculature organises into arteries, capillaries and veins and how it maintains its integrity and function. To target these aspects would be beneficial in multiple vascular-related diseases.

In addition, the network has a strong educational focus and provides an exciting program to prepare 14 PhD students for future careers in, as well as outside of, academia.

What is KI’s role in and your contribution to the network?

My lab will host and supervise PhD students in academia and in collaboration will AstraZeneca. KI will also provide courses and lectures on the biology of arteriovenous malformation in the “bleeding” disease HHT (Osler Weber Rendu), as well as on advanced imaging technologies and mouse models.

We will also host visiting students within the program to facilitate knowledge transfer as well as contribute with single cell transcriptomics of the malforming vasculature of disease models. To be part of this highly qualified network is truly exciting.

How does the network contribute to improve health for these patients?

Identification of novel disease-causing mutations in patients may provide new drugable targets. Furthermore, we set out to do drug screens to find modulators of pathways that we know are affected in these diseases.

We focus on drugs that are currently used, or have been assessed for clinical application, in treatment of other conditions. Such well-characterised drugs can be “repurposed” for treatment of patients with these particular mutations, thereby drastically reducing the time from “bench to bed”.