UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


Kaloyan Takov

PhD Project Title: Cardioprotective and proangiogenic activity of stem cell-derived small extracellular vesicles

Picture of Takov

Supervisors: Prof Sean Davidson and Prof Derek Yellon

Lay summary:

The aim of my research is to achieve better and safer treatments for patients who have suffered a heart attack – one of the biggest causes of death and disability in the world. Scientists have been trying for years to protect the heart from the injury that occurs during and after a heart attack, and to repair it and restore its function. In recent years, it has been discovered that stem cells and the molecules they produce can be beneficial for patients with this condition. Multiple laboratories are now working on the mechanisms of these effects, which must be precisely defined to optimise future stem cell therapies. My interest is in nanoparticles released by stem cells, called exosomes. They can signal to the cells in the heart by sending survival messages. Exosomes may also transmit regenerative signals, which can stimulate the body’s own repair mechanisms to mend the heart after an injury. I have made significant advances in this field by optimising the procedures used to obtain exosomes and to study their interactions with other cells. I have also discovered that stem cell exosomes have positive effects in different laboratory models of heart attack, making them an attractive novel treatment candidate.

My Background 

I developed a keen interest in cardiovascular science during my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, where I studied Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology). I was inspired by its translational potential and the huge impact it could have on the patient population. My desire to pursue a research career was strengthened after I was awarded a place on the prestigious Amgen Scholars Programme at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm where I investigated cancer angiogenesis and tumour metastasis. After my final BSc laboratory project, where I studied the role of androgen receptor in atherosclerosis, I was determined to apply for a PhD position in the field of cardiovascular science and medicine. I have been awarded a 4-year British Heart Foundation PhD Scholarship at UCL where I am currently conducting exciting work looking into the roles of stem cell-derived nanoparticles (exosomes) in cardioprotection and angiogenesis. What is really fascinating for me is the opportunity to use these nanocarriers not only as therapeutics for various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, but also as biomarkers: due to their nature, exosomes carry information about the cells they originate from, which can be used to detect and diagnose human diseases.

•    Bachelor of Science (with Honours) Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology), First Class Degree, The University of Edinburgh

•    BSc Pharmacology Prize 2015 (British Pharmacological Society)
•    Highly commended student, Medical Science 2015 (Undergraduate Awards)
•    Tom BB Crawford Prize 2015 (The University of Edinburgh)
•    RP Stephenson Prize 2015 (The University of Edinburgh)
•    Society for Endocrinology Undergraduate Achievement Award 2015

Member of:
•    Royal Society of Biology (MRSB)
•    International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV)
•    UK Society for Extracellular Vesicles (UKEV)
•    British Society for Cardiovascular Research (BSCR)
•    International Society for Heart Research (ISHR)

Contact details 
•    kaloyan.takov.15@ucl.ac.uk
•    www.linkedin.com/in/ktakov
•    https://www.researchgate.net