Aug 25 2015 Posted: 15:33 IST

€4 million European research project secured through Horizon 2020 programme

CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, has secured €4 million to lead a consortium of researchers on a new research project that will investigate novel treatments for Parkinson’s disease. The funding award has been made through the Horizon 2020 grant programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Networks Action. The official project title is ‘Development of Biomaterial-based Delivery Systems for Parkinson’s disease - an Integrated Pan-European Approach’ (BrainMatTrain).

Currently, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are treated using drugs which do not address the underlying cause of the disease, or slow down progressive neuro-degeneration. The BrainMatTrain project will develop new technology to target both the inflammatory and neurodegenerative phases of the disease. This research hopes to develop the first disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson’s which could slow down the progression of the disease rather than offering mere symptomatic benefits.

“The goal of the project is to engineer functionalised biomaterials that will induce neuroregeneration in the Parkinsonian brain” explains Dr Eilís Dowd, President of the Network for European CNS Transplantation & Restoration (NECTAR), and BrainMatTrain consortium co-lead. “These biomaterials will supply the local microenvironment around damaged tissue with appropriate therapeutic signalling factors.”

The NUI Galway team of Professor Abhay Pandit, Dr Eílis Dowd and Dr Una Fitzgerald are leading the consortium that includes academic groups from the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique in France, Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria, Lund University in Sweden, and the Technical University of Denmark. Industry partners of the programme include Collagen Solutions Limited in the United Kingdom and Orbsen Therapeutics Limited in Ireland.

The funding also provides for the recruitment of early stage and experienced researchers on the project, through a trans-national networking mechanism and provides a structure for high quality initial research training throughout European member states and associated countries.

Speaking about the award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM said: “The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks award will fund the training and development of researchers in biomaterials and regenerative neuroscience research over a four-year period beginning in January 2016. The programme will foster increased scientific dialogue between lead academics, industry and clinicians; transfer key scientific and experimental knowledge between the institutions involved and encourage researchers from around the world to conduct research in the EU. We are extremely privileged to be considered for this highly competitive award.”

CÚRAM is the National Centre for Research in Medical Devices and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Industry partners. Its goal is to radically improve health outcomes for patients with chronic and degenerative disease through the development of ‘smart’ implantable medical devices.

-Ends-

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