14 February 2019

EU Grant for Large Project on the Blood-Brain Barrier

Brain medicine

A large research consortium with participants from both public and private institutions across Europe will receive DKK 67 million from the European Innovative Medicines Initiative. Researchers from Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen are heading the part of the consortium which is to develop stem cell models of the blood-brain barrier, as it looks in people with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

CNSMB group
The blood-brain barrier poses a major problem for scientists around the world who wish to find new ways to treat brain disorders because the barrier makes it is very difficult to get medicine into the brain and take effect. Now, a new research collaboration with DKK 67 million from the world's largest public-private collaboration, the EU programme European Innovative Medicines Initiative, will try to find solutions to this problem.

Part of the cross-European collaboration, accounting for DKK 15 million, is anchored in Denmark and will be headed by researchers from the Universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus and H. Lundbeck A/S. They will use stem cells to develop models of the blood-brain barrier.

‘In many ways, the brain is still a mystery to us, and for many brain disorders we do not have effective treatments. Take as example Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, we need to find new ways to get medicine through the blood-brain barrier in order that better treatments can be developed,’ says the head of UCPH’s part of the project, Birger Brodin, professor at the Department of Pharmacy.

New Transport Paths
The researchers must develop models of the barrier both as it looks in healthy people and as it looks in the case of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Oxford, the goal is to identify new intake paths that are present in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

The knowledge which will be created by the Danish researchers will be the basis for other research groups in the consortium. They will work to detect the transport paths in the living organism and make new medications based on substances that recognise the transport path.

The large research consortium is headed by researchers from the company Sanofi and from the University of Oxford and consists of a total of six so-called work packages, of which the Danish researchers will head one.

A number of large pharmaceutical companies also contribute to the collaboration by matching the DKK 67 million from the EU programme with so-called in-kind funding in the form of e.g. labour. The collaboration includes e.g. Sanofi, H. Lundbeck A/S, Novo Nordisk, Janssen, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, Pfizer and Novartis.

For more info about the European Innovative Medicines Initiative project from Oxford University, click here.

Professor Birger Brodin
Telephone +45 22480355