Vascular Cures Research Network

Fragmentation, silos and competition slow down progress toward better patient outcomes. Vascular Cures can catalyze breakthrough collaborations because of our unique position as a trusted nonprofit innovator without proprietary interests. We bring together stakeholders across vascular health for shared brainstorming and projects to accelerate results. The world-class leaders of the Vascular Cures Research Network pioneer both medical care and patient-centered research, making them the nexus of change across vascular health management.

VCRN has developed three initiatives:
  • PREDICT-PVI, which brought together multiple institutions to create the first national vascular biobank and support research studies to identify biomarkers involved in vascular healing. Named after our founder, Dr. Ron Stoney, the Stoney Vascular Biobank consists of data, blood and DNA samples from patients who have undergone leg bypass surgery or stenting for advanced PAD.
  • The Vascular Research Summit, which invited leaders from 31 institutions across North America to share ideas and resources to solve unmet needs in vascular health.
  • The Cooperative Patient Centered Research (CPCR) Grants which fund multi-institutional high-impact projects that create sharable research assets and generate milestones within two years.

Understanding Peripheral Restenosis: Genomic and Proteomic Determinants of Vascular Intervention (PREDICT-PVI) was initiated to gather tissue and data to create a national vascular biobank and improve the success rate of procedures to open blocked arteries in the leg for patients suffering from peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Primary treatments used to restore blocked blood flow in PAD (angioplasty, stenting, bypass surgery) have a failure rate as high as 50% within two years. Despite many technical advances, this rate has remained essentially unchanged due to gaps in our understanding about the biology of healing.

The inflammatory response and its resolution are critical to the healing of blood vessels. Excessive scarring of vessels is a common cause of failure of angioplasty, stents, bypass grafts and the arterio-venous fistulas that allow for dialysis. Recent work has identified critical pathways of resolution, including those governed by bioactive lipids derived from omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. fish oils). The goal of the first PREDICT-PVI study is to define a set of protein and lipid inflammatory mediators that exhibit a patterned response after surgery, identifying them as candidate biomarkers or treatment targets to improve vascular healing.

The initial pilot study is a collaboration between UCSF and the University of Florida, with tissue from 50 patients who have undergone bypass surgery or AV fistula creation. Data analysis will be completed within the first quarter of 2017 with findings expected to generate a scientific communication later in the year. These results will also identify specific biomarkers for ongoing larger scale studies and prospective research projects for the Vascular Cures Research Network (VCRN).

Prior studies between UCSF and the University of Washington using tissue from PAD patients identified a gene variation correlated with the success of leg bypass surgery. These identified the importance of systemic inflammation in PAD patients undergoing surgical revascularization, the measurement of novel lipid mediators of inflammation and resolution in patients with vascular disease, and the identification of a genetic polymorphism associated with leg bypass surgery outcomes (PubMed: J Vasc Surg. 2013 Jan 9. doi:pii: S0741-5214(12)02432-9). To learn more about this work click here.

Venous DiscussionVascular Research Summit

In September 2016 we hosted the inaugural annual Vascular Research Summit as a forum for leading vascular surgeon-scientists in North America to share ideas, resources and data in a confidential forum. There were 56 surgeon-scientists from 31 leading academic medical centers convened to identify unmet scientific needs and brainstorm collaborative projects that will create and leverage research resources from institutions across the US. Learn more about the Research Summit here.

Collaborative Patient-Centered Research (CPCR) Grants

Driving collaboration across research centers and leveraging resources to broadly advance science are centerpieces of the Vascular Cures research portfolio.

Coming out of the 2016 Vascular Research Summit we launched a new research initiative, Collaborative Patient-Research Grants, to fund multi-institutional high-impact projects that create shareable research assets and generate milestones within two years.

The first two grants were awarded in early 2017 to teams led by Dr. Karen Ho at Northwestern University and Dr. Larry Kraiss at University of Utah School of Medicine.

Dr. Ho’s project seeks to understand how certain gut-microbes create metabolites that can be used as biomarkers for atherosclerosis, building on earlier work that identified differences in PAD vs Non-PAD patients. Together with collaborators and resources from Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, Dr. Ho will work to further characterize correlations between these differences and biomarkers of inflammation.

Dr. Larry Kraiss’ team from the University of Utah, Emory University, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Stanford University and University of Nebraska seek to improve decision-making about vascular surgery by including a predictive risk assessment of how the procedure will impact patients’ functional independence. Surgeons know a patient’s frailty pre-surgery is a key indicator of how well they will maintain independent living post-surgery. The team will pool their patient data to compare the predictive power of classic patient frailty tests with three alternative instruments. The result will be a pre-operative tool that physicians can use to create shared decision-making with their patients.