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Frontpage News 2012 Preventing amputations


New therapies to prevent amputations

  • The Norway Grants support a three-year medical basic research project to develop new therapies for patients with peripheral arterial diseases in Hungary. The new therapies will prevent or postpone the need of amputation.

    The Medical and Health Science Centre of the University of Debrecen, which is the second largest medical school in Hungary, is carrying out a comprehensive research project aimed at recognising underlying mechanisms and developing new stem cell-based therapies for treating patients suffering from advanced peripheral arterial disease.

    7000 amputations annually
    Peripheral arteries are the arteries that are farthest from the heart, typically in the legs. Peripheral arterial disease is a disorder that occurs when arteries in the body’s circulatory system are obstructed, and may result in the clinical amputation of the leg. About 7000 amputations resulting from peripheral arterial disease are performed each year in Hungary. In the north Alföld (Northern Great Plains) region of Hungary, where Debrecen is situated, the occurrence of peripheral arterial disease and other cardiovascular diseases are exceptionally high.

    Improving blood flow
    With €550 000 in support from the Norway Grants, the collaborative team of the Medical and Health Science Centre of the University of Debrecen is studying the type and characteristics as well as the mechanisms of stem- and progenitor cells with the capability to improve the blood flow in legs of patients suffering from peripheral arterial diseases. Treatment with cells that can make new blood vessels offers a unique option to prevent or postpone the need of amputation and improve the quality of life of patients. Until now, no effective medical therapies to this effect have been developed.

    The Cell Therapy Group at the Stem Cell Centre at the Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet in Norway participates as partner in the project. More specifically, the research entails identifying the phenotype and function of tissue stem and progenitor cells involved in blood vessel formation and identification of the most suitable isolation methods. The project will not involve isolation or production of, or experimentation with human embryonic stem cells.

    "Our results indicate that the bone marrow contains multiple stem- and progenitor cells with the potential to support vessel regeneration. When these cells interact with tissue- and immune cells of the inflamed milieu of the obstructed vessel, they acquire novel activities and trigger a cascade of local events that support vasculogenesis and wound healing. The complex mechanisms may involve controlled production of soluble factors, regulation of endothel cell functions, formation of new vessels, tissue regeneration, and inhibition of inflammation. These events altogether support increased blood flow, healing of ulcers and ultimately protect the leg from amputation," says Professor Dr Éva Rajnavölgyi, Head of the Immunology Department of the Medical School and Health Science Centre at the University of Debrecen.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Development of novel stem cell-based therapies for the treatment of advanced peripheral arterial disease

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Academic research


    € 550,078



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual Project

    Project promoter:

    University of Debrecen Medical and Health Science Center

    Type of institution:

    Education/research institution

    Project duration:

    32 months

    Project cost:

    € 647,150

    Grant rate:


    Grant from:

    Norway Grants

    Grant agreement date:

    05 January 2009

    The purpose of the Project is to develop novel cell therapies to delay the need of amputation and improve the quality of life of patients with advanced PAD, with the overall objective of reduce the incidence of amputation in Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Reference is made to the application dated 7 November 2007 and any subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    - Project management,

    - Project preparation, (analysis of the efficacy of HSC-derived endothelial cells in previously administered therapies and prove the safe use of stem cells in therapy),

    - Laboratory research work for identifying the most suitable isolation methods and cell types with angiogenic potential for clinical trials and the characterisation of these cell types,

    - Pre-clinical studies (design and development of a clinical protocol to study the efficacy of therapies by CD34 and hemopoetic stem cells and/or mesenchymal stem cells), and

    - Publicity and dissemination of results.

    The Project Promoter is the University of Debrecen Medical and Health Science Centre.

    Subject to national law, the Project shall be implemented in partnership with the Cell Therapy group at the Rikshospitalet, Oslo (Norway).

    The Focal Point shall ensure that the Project Promoter provides at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.