Austrian Society of Surgery awards Theodor Billroth Prize to Vera Vorstandlechn


(Vienna, 12-07-2022) Vera Vorstandlechner from the Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery of MedUni Vienna received the award for her research, which focuses on the genetic landscape of hypertrophic scars and the identification of new therapeutic approaches.

The study that impressed the expert jury was published in Nature Communications in October 2021 under the title "The serine proteases dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 and urokinase are key molecules in human and mouse scar formation" ( In this study, Vera Vorstandlechner and her research colleagues investigated the genetic pattern of hypertrophic scars, as well as potential targetsfor new treatmentoptions. Hypertrophic scarsscars develop thickened, often painful and itchy fibrotic strands and can be a significant burden for patients afteraccidents, surgery and especially burn injuries. The research team used single cell sequencing to analyse the genetic landscape of such scars, as well as scar maturation in a mouse model. In human skin, this method identified a subtype of fibroblast significantly associated with hypertrophic scarring. By comparing this scar-specific fibroblast type with fibroblasts during scar maturation in mice, the researchers were able to identify a group of serine proteases that were equally elevated in both experimental approaches.