VHIR researchers receive European funding for liver disease research

Dr. Joan Genescà, head of the Liver Diseases research group and Dr. María Martell, group researcher and head of the Advanced Liver Disease laboratory, from the Liver Diseases group at VHIR, have received funding for a European research project in the Joint Call for transnational projects in nanomedicine, within the framework of the European network EuroNanoMed III «European Innovative Research & Technological Development Projects in Nanomedicine (ENM III)»

The project, entitled «Biodegradable Nanoparticles of Simvastatin as New Therapeutic Tool for Chronic Liver Disease», is part of a consortium integrated by the Liver Diseases research group at VHIR, in collaboration with Dr. Fernanda Andrade and Dr. Diana Fernandes from the CIBBIM-Nanomedicine. Drug Delivery and Targeting group led by by Dr. Simó Schwartz Jr., as well as by Dr. Ming Wei from Cellvax SAS in Romainville (France) and Dr. Norman Metanis of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). This projects aims at developing biodegradable nanoparticles that carry statins and that are directed specifically to the sinusoidal endothelial cells of the liver (first inducers of liver damage) that allow to increase the concentration of the drug in order to maximize its effectiveness and safety, thereby becoming a useful therapeutic tool for liver diseases.

Liver cirrhosis is the fifth leading cause of death in adults aged 50 to 70 and is responsible for 85% of liver transplants. Unfortunately, there is no treatment available (except the elimination of the causing agent) to stop or slow the progression of this chronic disease.

Statins are drugs known for their effect on the synthesis of cholesterol and widely used in cardiovascular diseases. Similarly, they also have multiple beneficial intrahepatic effects. However, its side effects, mainly of muscular and liver toxicity, limit the doses to be used, conditioning the effectiveness of the treatment.

EuroNanoMed is the European ERA-NET COFUND Network on Nanomedicine, established since 2008 as a platform to coordinate and encourage high quality research across borders in order to achieve innovative approaches in the field of nanomedicine in Europe. This initiative has allocated about 67 million to fund 76 transnational projects in this field. EuroNanoMed brings together 22 agencies from 19 countries and is being co-financed by the European Commission under the H2020 Programme.