The EuroNeuroTrophin consortium at the kick-off meeting in Athens, 2018
Neurotrophins are regulatory proteins secreted by the central and peripheral nervous systems for their development, maintenance and function. They have been identified as potential therapeutics for the currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases (ND) such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease.
These ND becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide. Alzheimer’s affects 36 million people across the world and currently creates an economic burden of €724 billion, which is set to increase to over a trillion by 2019.
Before Neurotrophins can be used as treatment for these ND, further investigation into their pharmacokinetic properties (how an organism affects a drug) is required. They are sensitive and have a limited ability to diffuse into body tissues and the blood-brain barrier. This makes their application as drugs difficult.
EuroNeuroTrophin aims to produce neurotrophin mimetics which combine the positives of naturally occurring neurotrophins while overcoming their limitations. In order to do so, 14 early stage researchers will be recruited to be trained by a team of 12 leading European research groups and 6 commercial companies, all of which with specific expertise in the field. This combined skill will draw together academia and industry, accelerating the translation of identified lead compounds to drug candidate molecules to provide novel therapies for ND while also providing trainee scientists with important skills to carry forward in their progressing careers.
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AvantiCell shall build cell models and commercially-practical screening tools for use in the evaluation of neurotrophic agonists and antagonists; through representation of the human blood brain barrier (BBB) and utilisation of cells with human neuronal characteristics.
Methods for iPS-derived microvascular cell co-culture shall be investigated, along with BBB integrity and filtration performance.
The project kick-off meeting took place in January 2018 in Athens, Greece and was attended by AvantiCell R&D Manager Dr Marie-Ann Ewart. AvantiCell will have 2 ESRs funded by this project. These roles are currently advertised and ESR start date is October 2018.