14 March 2019

Big Step Towards More Personalised Medicine for Heart Patients


Cardiologists from Rigshospitalet, researchers from the University of Copenhagen and specialists from Norway and Iceland will improve the treatment of heart patients on the basis of advanced predictions based on knowledge about risk factors. The project, PM Heart, has received DKK 22.5 million from Innovation Fund Denmark and NordForsk, among others.

Hundreds of thousands of Danes suffer from cardiovascular diseases and a lot receive prophylactic treatment. However, despite great knowledge of the many different risk factors playing a role in the development of the disease, doctors still have difficulty targeting their treatment at the individual patients. Therefore, some receive unnecessary prophylactic treatment, while others are undertreated.

Now a large new collaboration in the Nordic countries will develop a model significantly improving doctors’ chances of targeting the treatment. Consultant Doctor at Rigshospitalet and Professor at the University of Copenhagen Henning Bundgaard, who will be heading the project, says:

‘Through the new collaboration we will combine the great knowledge we have from clinical data in hospitals and biobanks, register data, medicine consumption and genetic examinations, in many cases compiled over a period of many years. This gives us a unique basis for developing models that can tell us exactly which type of cardiovascular disease a given patient is suffering from and thus prevent both overtreatment and undertreatment in the future’.

In addition to cardiologists and the biobank at Rigshospitalet, the project also has participation from the University of Copenhagen, the National Genome Center, the Oslo University Hospital, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and deCODE genetics in Iceland. The title of the project is ‘Precision Diagnostics and Prediction in Ischemic Heart Disease including Identification of Over-Treated Patients’.

The DKK-22.5 million funding comes from the national innovation funds and research councils in Denmark, Norway and Iceland as well as from NordForsk, which is an organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Genes Considered a Network
As part of the project, Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Copenhagen Søren Brunak will be working on new analysis models.

‘Genetic susceptibility to heart disease involves far more genes than we thought just a couple of years ago. It is therefore relevant to use system biological methods which analyse the genes as one large network, because the genome also contains a lot of factors reducing this risk. It is equally important to identify these protected elements, especially in connection with personalised medicine’, says Søren Brunak.

Ethics, Law and the Economy in Focus
The project also focusses on the ethical, legal and socio-economic aspects of using patient data.

‘The use of genetic analyses raises a series of ethical and legal questions, for example concerning access to sensitive information and protecting patients’ privacy. We also need to consider relations and responsibility with regard to the patients’ relatives. In addition, there is a need for more knowledge of the socio-economic aspects of using personalised medicine. And this project offers us a chance to do so vis-à-vis a disease that affects a very large part of the population’, says Mette Hartlev, Professor and Head of the centre for Legal Studies in Welfare and Market (WELMA) at the University of Copenhagen.

For More Information:

Please contact Professor, Consultant Doctor Henning Bundgaard, email: henning.bundgaard@regionh.dk, phone: 3545 0512 or: 2611 2290.

Fact: Funding of PM Heart

  • ‘Precision Diagnostics and Prediction in Ischemic Heart Disease including Identification of Over-Treated Patients’ has a total budget of DKK 29.4 million.
  • DKK 16.8 million come from Danish funds with DKK 10.7 million from Innovation Fund Denmark, DKK 3.2 million from NordForsk and DKK 2.9 million from the partners involved in the project.
  • From Norway and Iceland the project has received DKK 12.6 million from the Research Council of Norway, the Icelandic Centre for Research Rannis, NordForsk and the individual partners.