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Thomas Reiberger and Laura de Rooij received the prestigious LBG CRG funding for their project "MOTION"


Thomas Reiberger and Laura de Rooij, recipients of the LBG CRG funding.

Congratulations to CeMM Adjunct Principal Investigator Thomas Reiberger and CeMM Principal Investigator Laura de Rooij, who received the prestigious CRG funding from the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft for their project entitled "Disease-Driving Mechanisms in Patients with Portal Hypertension," in short "MOTION"!

Portal Hypertension (PH) is a severe consequence of liver diseases, causing more than 2 million (4% of all) deaths worldwide each year. Nevertheless, there are no approved drugs for the effective treatment of PH. Led by CeMM Adjunct PI Thomas Reiberger from the Clinical Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at MedUni Vienna and in collaboration with the lab of Laura de Rooij at CeMM, as well as clinical experts in hepatology, radiology, and anesthesiology at MedUni Vienna, the MOTION research group will explore novel diagnostic modalities, molecular disease-driving mechanisms, and potential treatment options for PH. The mentor of the project is Michael Trauner, Professor and Chair of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at MedUni Vienna.

The project will conduct three 'investigator-driven' clinical trials in patients with (i) compensated cirrhosis, (ii) decompensated cirrhosis, and (iii) vascular liver disease, testing promising new therapies for PH. In a total of 8 work packages, researchers and clinicians will investigate basic pathomechanisms of portal hypertension, using modern peptide and enzyme assays to characterize the classical and alternative renin‐angiotensin system, gene expression analysis by RNA sequencing of liver tissue and intestinal biopsies, blood metabolomics, and a detailed characterization of the intestinal microbiome.

At the CeMM Molecular Discovery Platform, they will investigate the blood metabolites. While it has been known for a long time that alterations of the blood vessels are connected to PH, this has not led to improved diagnosis or treatments yet. To change this, Laura de Rooij and her group at CeMM will investigate a specific cell type that is shed from blood vessels in patients with portal hypertension and liver disease. The de Rooij group will also examine specific molecules related to blood vessel growth in serum from these patients and look for structural abnormalities in the vasculature of their livers. The goal is to get a complete picture of how blood vessels become dysfunctional in patients with PH and to identify new vascular markers to predict liver disease progression.

Ultimately, the research project aims to develop precise methods for the invasive and non-invasive early detection and diagnosis of portal hypertension, as well as to establish targeted and personalized treatment options for patients with portal hypertension.

About the LBG CRG funding

The “LBG Clinical Research Groups” (CRG) is Austria’s first funding program in the field of non-commercial disease- and patient-oriented, consortium-based clinical research. CRG supports the development of innovative research results in disease- or patient-oriented investigator-driven clinical studies with the possibility of integration of translational aspects. At the same time, it aims to promote high-quality scientific training of young clinical researchers within the framework of a clinical research group by means of a research program. Projects are funded for the duration of 4 years, plus 4 additional years after successful interim evaluation. With a total of 24 million euros in funding from the BMBWF and the Austrian Future Fund, three research groups can now devote themselves entirely to their research and the findings they have gained.