NUI Galway to Lead a European Research Project to Restore Blood Vessels
A consortium led by the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway has secured €3.7 million to fund research into a medical condition called ischemia. The condition occurs when blood supply to a tissue is limited, an example being ischemic heart disease, the most common cause of death in the western world, from which 16 million European adults currently suffer.
The funding award has been made through the EU-FP7 grant programme under the Marie Curie Initial Training Network, the official project title is ‘Development of Biomaterial-based Delivery Systems for Ischemic Conditions - An Integrated Pan-European Approach’.
“Our focus is on therapeutic angiogenesis, which aims to form new vessels to supply the ischemic tissue and restore function”, explains Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the NFB. “One possibility in this field is to supply the local microenvironment around the damaged tissue with the appropriate biological signalling factors, through the use of functionalised biomaterials.”
Ischemia is not limited to heart disease and the research will have a wider scope across other medical conditions. Ischemia has a number of causes such as blockages, as in the case of cholesterol blockages in atherosclerosis or the clotting that may cause ischemic stroke, inflammation as in ischemic colitis, or conditions such as sickle cell anaemia. Acute limb ischemia occurs when blood supply is lost to a limb, with delayed treatment leading to morbidity, amputation and even death, with around 50,000 cases in the US annually.
The research consortium, led by Professor Pandit of the NFB, includes academic groups from the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH), Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche in Italy, Universidad de Valladolid in Spain, University of Brighton in the UK, University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, Vivasure Medical in Ireland and Selyno Biomedical in Israel.
The funding provides for the recruitment of early stage and experienced researchers aiming to improve their career prospects in both public and private sectors, thereby making research careers more attractive to young people. This will be achieved through a trans-national networking mechanism, aimed at structuring the existing high quality initial research training capacity throughout European member states and associated countries.
Speaking about the award, Professor Abhay Pandit, said: “The Marie Curie Initial Training Network award will fund the training and development of researchers in biomaterials and regenerative medicine research over a four-year period beginning in October 2012. This programme will foster increased scientific dialogue between lead academics, industry and clinicians; transfer key scientific and experimental knowledge between the institutions involved enabling the consortium to widen the scope of their work; encourage researchers to stay in Europe, and attract researchers from around the world to conduct research in the EU. About 40% of this funding will remain in Ireland. We are extremely privileged to be considered for this highly competitive award.”