Kak Khee Yeung - Personalised medicine for complex aortic diseases

Personalised medicine for complex aortic diseases (PICARD)

To treat aortic diseases better, we are in need to improve the pathophysiological knowledge with better models and address the multifactorial cause. PICARD is the first project that will use new methods and models (live aortic models, new imaging models, cell specific studies, genetic studies) to study the biology involved in aortic remodelling and addressing the multifactorial cause. For this cause a consortium of various university hospitals in Europe, led by dr. K.K. Yeung from Amsterdam UMC, is trying to get EU-funding in order to do the necessary research.

Aortic diseases contribute to the wide spectrum of vascular diseases: aortic aneurysms, aortic dissection and congenital abnormalities as bicuspid aortic valves. An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal dilatation of the aorta and an aortic dissection a tear in the wall of the aorta. The cause of the aortic diseases is unknown. The prevalence of aortic diseases is high, which can be 5-8% of the male population above 65 years. Despite improvement in surgical treatment in the last years, it continues to be a major threat to health system because of severe outcome when the disease progress or in case of rupture leading to death in 80%.   As the origin for aortic disease is multifactorial and many of these factors have yet to be discovered, disease progression remains unpredictable.

The main aim of PICARD is to develop an adequate prognostic model for aortic disease progression that will aid physicians in deciding on the best treatment for the patients (earlier aortic repair (and type), new medical therapy or combination therapies) to achieve personalised aortic treatment. Not only will this study help us develop an adequate prognostic model, it will also improve our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of aortic disease and any connection there might be between the various aortic diseases.

Our consortium consists of interdisciplinary team members, with specialties in the areas of vascular surgery, vascular medicine, cardiology, oncology, radiology, immunology, biology, genetics, laboratory works, software engineering and bio-engineering. The team is led by Dr. K.K. Yeung from Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Dr. V.S. Costache from University L. Blaga, Sibiu, Romania. Dr. K.K. Yeung is a true translational researcher, she is a vascular surgeon and PI, research director of Vascular Surgery, with a special interest in translating her laboratory findings in to daily surgical practice. She is part of the team that setup the national biobank PARELSNOER AAA with location Amsterdam Medical Center and Leiden University medical center. She developed new methods to study aortic remodelling:  generating smooth muscle cells (SMC) from skin biopsies similar to aortic smooth muscle cells (Yeung KK, et al Human Mutation 2017), novel techniques to analyse live aortic tissue and development of live aortic models (Meekel JP,… Yeung KK, Scientific Reports Nature publishing group 2018). She has a close working relationschip with the lab in Porto run by Dr. A. Leite-Moreira and endograft manufacturer W.L. Gore&Associates. Dr. V.S. Costache is a well-known cardiovascular surgeon and has developed a large image and databank in Romania called NEXTCARDIO. He has experience in leading a large team and works closely with endograft industry (Cardiatis), using computerized fluid dynamics analysis to optimize the treatment. Dr. T. Kratimenos and Dr. P. Liuba are well-known cardiovascular researchers, specialized in conducting clinical trials, focused on hemodynamics in aortic diseases. Dr. Ciprian Candea is specialized in software development, predictive algorithms and will bring his experience from other research projects within PICARD.  Dr. R. Woitsch and Dr. E. Miron will perform data modelling.

Together, PICARD consortium will deliver improved therapy for aortic diseases.

Source: VUmc news