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The year in vascular biology research 2020

Commented by the ESC WG on Atherosclerosis and Vascular Biology

Atherosclerosis, Cerebrovascular Diseases, Aneurysm, Restenosis
ESC Working Groups

This paper, written on behalf of the ESC Council for Basic Cardiovascular Science, reviews some of the most exciting vascular biology breakthroughs in 2020.

This extraordinary year will be remembered for the pandemic and we likewise provide a summary of the links between COVID-19 and cardiovascular health. Aside from this, the advent of single cell omics technologies is revolutionising biomedicine by mapping out the cellular basis of disease in unprecedented detail. In 2020 we saw single cell RNAseq technology moving towards mainstream use with important breakthroughs in the cardiovascular field and these are reviewed. We also discuss how advances in our understanding of vascular responses to mechanical forces and how these have been driven by the application of novel engineering and physics methods in vascular biology. Vascular biology in 2020 will also be remembered for landmark papers on neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and their role in atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases and we describe these breakthroughs.

Recent advances in computer modeling, machine learning and the use of big data have made significant impact in our understanding of vascular health and disease at a population level and we present several of these studies that came to light in 2020. One of the ultimate goals of vascular biology research is the development of new therapeutic approaches to combat vascular pathologies and we highlight some of the therapeutic developments in 2020 including novel small molecules, cell-based therapies and microRNAs.

Despite the pandemic, vascular biology has never been stronger.

The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.

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