EU invests 10.7 million Euro on EICOSANOX project led from Karolinska Institutet

15-Feb-2005

A decision has been taken on the grant that the EU's Sixth Framework Programme is to provide for EICOSANOX, a major research project coordinated by Karolinska Institutet. The project, which ranked highest in its category, is an Integrated Project (IP) and is to be allocated research funding of 10.7 million euro over the course of five years. A total of 15 research groups from six European nations will be merged into a very large multi-disciplinary consortium, including a team from Canada and two biotech companies. The research is focused on prostaglandins, leukotrienes and nitric oxide, all of which are central to widespread diseases like cardiovascular disorders, atherosclerosis, dementia and cancer. The research examines the enzyme systems that govern the Formation of certain signal substances in the body, particularly derivatives of arachidonic acid. These substances control the course of events during inflammation and fever as well as blood coagulation and cellular growth. They are therefore of significance to several major disease areas, such as cardiovascular diseases, dementia and cancer. If scientists learn how to control these signal substances, they may be able to find suitable therapies. The annual global sales of drugs in these therapeutic areas have been estimated to more than 100 million Euro. "I've hand-picked every single group involved," says Professor Jesper Z. Haeggström, who is leading the consortium from Karolinska Institutet. "All of them are at the forefront of their specialist research fields." The consortium brings together research groups from Sweden, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain, with three different specialisations: COX, LOX and NOS, abbreviations that stand for three different enzyme systems and their products. The systems and their functions are intimately integrated in the body, and the objective of the project is for the groups to meet and pool their knowledge. One important goal is to identify new genes that are involved in the regulation of COX, LOX and NOS, and that can be used to develop new drugs. Apart from four groups at Karolinska Institutet, the network formed through the consortium includes the University of Frankfurt, which has research groups in all three areas. Cardiologists from Italy's D'Annunzio University are also involved, along with British researchers from the renowned William Harvey Institute and Salvador Moncada, one of the world's most eminent researchers in the field of nitric oxide. The Canadian group is specialised in animal models for studies of eicosanoids. Two biotech companies, the Swedish Biolipox AB and the Franco-Italian NicOx, are also taking part. Research into prostaglandins and leukotrienes (also known as eicosanoids) has long been a flagship field of research in Sweden and one in which we have led the world. The substances were discovered at Karolinska Institutet, which earned Sune Bergström and Bengt Samuelsson, together with John R. Vane from England, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine in 1982.

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