EUR 3.5 million to Nordic clinical medical research

28 Mar 2012

The Academy of Finland and the Swedish Research Council have granted a total of EUR 3.5 million to Finnish and Swedish researchers for bilateral clinical medical research. The projects to be funded focus on topics such as the association between Pandemrix influenza vaccination and narcolepsy and the various treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. The aim of the funding is to strengthen clinical research in Finland and Sweden with a view to maintaining the internationally competitive position and tackling the grand challenges faced by society. The Academy’s Research Council for Health and the Scientific Council for Medicine and Health at the Swedish Research Council have made the funding decisions jointly, but the funding is granted to each country’s own researchers. This is the first time that the two research funding agencies cooperate in this way within clinical medical research.

The funding period for the three-year projects starts 1 September 2012.

The Academy of Finland will fund the following projects:

Adjunct Professor Markku Partinen heads a consortium that investigates the association between Pandemrix vaccination and narcolepsy among Finnish and Swedish children and adolescents aged 4–19. In 2010, the incidence of narcolepsy in children and adolescents was almost 13-fold among those who received the Pandemrix vaccine in comparison to those unvaccinated in the same age group. The research project will investigate the genetic and environmental factors contributing to the incidence of narcolepsy as well as the cell mechanisms in post-vaccination narcolepsy and in “conventional” narcolepsy. A better understanding of the mechanisms in narcolepsy will facilitate the development of new therapies for this neurological disease. Through Finnish-Swedish collaboration, it is possible to recruit a sufficient number of patients for this research.

Adjunct Professor Jyrki Tenhunen (Tampere University Hospital) is researching septic shock (i.e. sepsis), a severe condition where bacteria and other microbes in the blood stream trigger a powerful inflammatory response. In septic shock, the mortality can still be as high as 60 per cent. The project will be investigating and testing a novel type of extracorporeal filter containing the bacteria-binding domains of the macrophage scavenger receptors that form the first line of defence in the human body. The research hypothesis is that while antimicrobial treatment can kill the majority of bacteria in the blood stream, dead bacteria and bacteria debris contain highly toxic substances that continuously activate the immune system and maintain a state of hemodynamic instability. The research is headed by Professor Karl Tryggvason from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Professor Jorma Toppari (University of Turku) heads a research project where Finnish and Swedish healthcare and medical experts aim to establish a top-level centre with a view to developing a method to differentiate early male germs into mature functional sperm in order to provide a clinical tool for fertility preservation for prepubertal boys with, for example, childhood cancer. The project involves seven centres from four countries. The network will also arrange researcher training for young researchers and clinicians, organise annual research meetings and seminars as well as establish an interactive web environment with information for patients and families. The centre strives to be one of the world-leading top units within research and healthcare in the field.

In his project, Adjunct Professor Dan E. Nordström (University of Helsinki) focuses on researching rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its treatment in the early stages of the disease. The research project will carry out clinical drug research as a Nordic collaboration in connection with a larger project, NORDSTAR. The study will include 800 patients and the aim is to evaluate four modern active treatment strategies. Another aim is to explore the possibility of discontinuing medication after achieving good effects. The research will answer many important questions regarding the treatment of RA, and the expectation is that such results will shape the care of newly diagnosed patients with RA for years to come. This Nordic collaboration will secure the recruitment of the needed number of patients.

More information

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Vesa Varpula
tel. +358 9 7748 8458

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