Published: 13-06-2024 13:49 | Updated: 13-06-2024 15:24

Researchers from the Vascular Surgery Group, receive the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation 120 years Jubilee Award

Photo by Kristian Pohl included, left to right: HLF General Secretary Kristina Sparreljung, award recipients Ljubica Matic and Anton Razuvaev, His Royal Highness Prince Daniel

Ljubica Matic and Anton Razuvaev from the Vascular Surgery Group at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institutet, have been awarded with the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation 120 years Jubilee grant for their project that aims to reveal novel mechanisms and develop therapeutic targets and biomarkers for personalised treatment in lower limb peripheral arterial disease.

In connection to the celebration of 120 years since its foundation, the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation decided to award several special, competitive Jubilee grants to projects established in collaboration between translational and clinical researchers at mid-career level. The project led by Ljubica Matic (main applicant) and Anton Razuvaev (co-applicant), entitled “A call to action in lower limb Peripheral Arterial Disease” has been funded for 3 years with 5 MSEK totally.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in lower extremities is a chronic condition characterized by compromised circulation to the legs, present in >25% of all people over the age of 65. At its advanced stage, referred to as Critical Limb Ischemia, it puts patients at risk of thrombosis, cardiovascular events, amputation and death. The group of PAD patients is highly heterogeneous, while treatment is paradoxically uniform and focused on surgery, providing the amputation-free survival of only about 60% two years after intervention. Systematic research into the molecular mechanisms underlying PAD using contemporary methods is needed to resolve the urgent need for biomarkers and therapeutic targets that could provide personalized treatment in this field. The awarded project aims to build and explore a human biobank of lower limb PAD, and represents the first dedicated, comprehensive initiative of this kind in Sweden. The project will develop improved patient assessment strategies based on multi-modal approaches to detect PAD development, the growing risk of thrombosis and risk of restenosis after surgery.

The two partners Ljubica Matic and Anton Razuvaev have extensive experience of working together over the past 12 years. Their mutual complementarity will be of key importance for this new project too, Ljubica Matic being a full-time researcher with expertise in molecular and cell biology, biomedicine, biobanking and omics studies, while Anton Razuvaev is a clinically active vascular surgeon with expertise in cardiovascular medicine, diabetes complications and murine models of vascular disease.

The unique, integrated translational vascular environment at MMK, Karolinska, where this project is embedded, has existed continuously for >50 years, built around the patients treated in Vascular Surgery Clinic at Karolinska University Hospital, collection of clinical and epidemiological data, biobanking, in silico omics analyses and full-scale experimental investigations conducted in the Vascular Surgery Research Group at Karolinska Institutet. The Vascular Surgery Unit at Karolinska is the largest in Sweden in terms of surgical volume, with > 650 interventions annually performed only for PAD indications (ref SwedVasc registry report 2022).