Within the ZonMw programme ‘ More Knowledge with Fewer Animals’ (‘Meer Kennis met Minder Dieren’), a grant of nearly € 500,000 is awarded to a public-private partnership led by Dr. P. Olinga of the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy. A team of researchers from the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy, the UMCG, the University of Mainz, and the Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. will launch a new study focusing on reducing the number of animals used in research on anti-fibrotic drugs. Furthermore, Boehringer Ingelheim will support this project with nearly € 500,000.
Fibrosis is characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix proteins and is considered a serious complication associated with aging and/or chronic injury. Fibrotic diseases, especially of liver, the cardiovascular system, kidneys and lungs still account for about 45% of deaths in Western societies. The mechanisms of fibrosis are commonly studied in in vitro and in vivo animal models. The in vitro models currently utilized in fibrosis research however cannot predict the complex cellular interactions that occur in vivo. Moreover, in vivo animal studies in fibrosis are accompanied by considerable discomfort and have limited implications for human disease.
The research will focus on clinical translation, i.e., validation of precision-cut tissue slices (PCTS) against currently used in vivo animal models. Due to the guidelines in drug development, optimized animal models are still necessary in the preclinical phase, but comparability of observed antifibrotic effects in vivo with effects found in animal and especially human PCTS will be the best and increasingly demanded step immediately prior to initiation of clinical studies. The current public-private partnership, with partners from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, will ensure that the developed and optimized ex vivo model of fibrosis will finally be used as an immediate preclinical validation tool for clinical anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic drug development, thereby resulting in limiting the number of animals used.
Amina Helmi, a professor of Astronomy specializing in Milky Way dynamics, structure and formation, will receive the Spinoza Prize in October.
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More than 200 researchers and their teams can begin to work on social and scientific issues in close collaboration with public and private parties. This close collaboration will take place in 17 research projects.