Mats Eriksson - new Professor at MedH

Mats Eriksson, who has worked at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital since 1981, was appointed Adjunct Professor in June 2012 at the Unit of Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Huddinge.

Congratulations on your new chair. What does this appointment mean to you?

- It's a kind of appreciation of all my research on cholesterol metabolism, and of all the work I have put into taking care of patients with lipid disorders in the past 30 years, says Mats Eriksson.

Tell us about your research.

- I focus on describing the mechanisms of hereditary dyslipidemia, especially on the disease called familiar hypercholesterolemia. Right now, we are implementing the latest advances in genetic diagnosis in order to understand more about the background and possible therapeutic options. It is also important to early identify patients to treat and prevent complications, says Mats and continues:

- Together with Professor Paolo Parini I also conduct research on an enzyme called ACAT 2, which is important for the so-called esterification of cholesterol. Here we are collecting blood, liver tissue and intestinal tissue from humans to be able to analyze the various steps in blood fat metabolism. In parallel, we operate cell studies.

- Then I am also a principal investigator of several trials in which new biological drugs are tested on well-defined patients.

Why did you choose the cholesterol metabolism as your field of research?

- Early on in my development, I met my supervisor Professor Bo Angelin and Professor Kurt Einarsson who made me understand the importance of excellence in research and what is important. The description of the LDL receptor function and the development of statins - drugs that lower blood cholesterol  were also reasons for my decision to continue working in this field. I think I wrote out the first statin prescription in Sweden, and today a total of about 750 000 patients in Sweden are treated with statins!

What are your plans for the future?

- I want to try and keep me healthy and continue as before. We are now testing a kind of antibody treatment that seems to have great potential to lower cholesterol to very low levels. I think there are reasonable grounds to believe that cholesterol-lowering therapy in the near future can go from prevention to a therapeutic option to treat severe atherosclerosis and get the changes in the vessels to regress. And I don´t want to miss that possibility, says Mats Eriksson.