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The Bridge - Lungs for Life: EU Funding Supports Öresund Lung Transplant Initiative

Stock photo of the Öresunds Bridge.
‘The Bridge - Lungs for Life’ initiative received EU funding to establish a centralized Danish-Swedish "renovation facility" for damaged lungs – a first-of-its-kind endeavor in Europe. Photo credit: Karl Hörnfeldt // Unsplash

Many lung patients face a critical shortage of organs for transplantation. To address this challenge, the ‘The Bridge - Lungs for Life’ initiative led by Professor Sandra Lindstedt at the Skåne University Hospital in Lund and Lund University will establish a centralized Danish-Swedish "renovation facility" for damaged lungs – a first-of-its-kind endeavor in Europe.

Lung transplantation is the primary treatment for severe lung disease, but the scarcity of suitable organs often leads to tragic outcomes for patients awaiting transplants. Traditional approaches to increase organ donations typically fall short due to widespread organ damage, rendering many donated lungs unusable. In Sweden, about 190 organs are donated every year but due to injuries to the lungs, only about 30 percent can be used for transplantation.

This project, led by Sandra Lindstedt, a senior consultant in thoracic surgery at Skåne University Hospital and research group leader at Lund Stem Cell Center, will introduce a pioneering approach using ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) – a technique that rejuvenates damaged lungs, making them suitable for transplantation. By centralizing EVLP services by combining all donor lungs from both centers; Skåne University Hospital and Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the project will enhance efficiency and expand access to lung transplant recipients across Scandinavia.

"This project marks a pivotal moment for lung transplantation between Sweden and Denmark. Through collaboration and innovation, we hope to improve efficiency, increase viable transplants, and ultimately save more lives of patients with severe lung diseases,” states Sandra Linstedt.

Collaborating with Rigshospitalet, Skåne University Hospital (SUS), and XVIVO, the project which has now received over 1,6 million EUR in funding from the European Union will develop a comprehensive EVLP training program for healthcare professionals. The ultimate goal is to extend these services to transplant centers throughout the Scandinavian region.

Ensuring access to tomorrow’s advanced lung therapies

Recognizing that EVLP cannot improve all lungs, the project will also focus on developing new therapies based on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In recent research by Sandra Lindstedt and her research team, these therapies, known as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), have shown promise in restoring the function of damaged lungs, offering new opportunities to expand the pool of transplantable organs. 

“Our aim is to spark innovation in advanced therapies for lung transplantation in Sweden and Denmark and make it possible to introduce these therapies into clinical practice,” notes Sandra Lindstedt.

To facilitate this, the project will establish a cross-border developmental and testing framework. Beyond medical innovations, the project also aims to address disparities in access to transplantation. Working with clinics, patient advocates, and Mer Organdonation, the team will work to streamline referral processes and improve awareness among healthcare providers to ensure equitable access to life-saving interventions for all communities.

‘My vision is that no patients should die waiting for an organ transplant’ - Cardiothoracic surgeon Sandra Lindstedt shares more about her research in this WCMM interview from 2022.
Portrait of Prof. Sandra Lindstedt

Sandra Lindstedt, adjunct professor at Lund University, is a senior consultant in thoracic surgery specializing in heart and lung transplantation at Skåne University Hospital in Lund. She is also a clinical research group leader at the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine, Lund University Cancer Centre, and Lund Stem Cell Center.

Profile in Lund University portal

Learn more about the Translational Lung Transplantation and Lung Cell Therapy Research Group

Quick Facts:

  • Project Name: The bridge – lungs for life
  • Countries: Sweden, Denmark
  • Regions: Skåne (SE), Hovedstaden (DK)
  • Area of ​​focus: Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Specific goal: Promote competence development and entrepreneurship within smart specialization.
  • Period: 1 January 2024 - 31 December 2026
  • Granted EU funds: EUR 1,619,999, Total budget: EUR 2,699,998 
  • Lead partner: Region Skåne
  • Contact:
    Sandra Lindstedt, Region Scania (Scania University Hospital)
    sandra [dot] lindstedt [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se (sandra[dot]lindstedt[at]med[dot]lu[dot]se)
    +46 737220580
  • Partner: Capital Region

    Learn more about The Bridge - Lungs for Life Initiative