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iMM Lisboa coordinates a 6-million Project Funded by the European Commission

February 16, 2015

The team led by João Forjaz de Lacerda from Instituto de Medicina Molecular obtained funding from the European Commission - Horizon 2020 program - in the amount of EUR 6 million to coordinate a clinical research project for the treatment of graft versus host, a serious problem in bone marrow transplantation.

The TREGeneration project will last for five years and is led by the IMM team, in partnership with the other two institutions of the Lisbon Academic Medical Center, Hospital de Santa Maria and FMUL. The consortium brings together four other EU countries: Germany, Belgium, Italy and the UK. In Portugal, additionally to the patients from the Hematology Service and Marrow Transplant of Hospital de Santa Maria, bone marrow transplant services of IPOs from Oporto and Lisbon will also participate in the study. The team led by João Forjaz de Lacerda at IMM, also composed by Maria Soares and Rita Azevedo, coordinated the process of designing and writing the proposed project for funding. After being approval, the team is now responsible for the scientific and financial coordination of the project. In total, a budget of EUR 6 million is allocated to the project TREGeneration, of which EUR 1.6 million are for studies undertaken in Portugal. The project consortium will perform a set of five parallel clinical trials in patients with complications of bone marrow transplantation called graft versus host in which the donor's immune cells "attack" diseased tissues and organs that have been transplanted. This disease occurs in about 30 to 50% of patients. TREGeneration aims to test a more specific therapeutic approach and with fewer side effects in patients who do not respond to current treatment strategies. Each trial will have about 20 patients who will be treated with bone marrow cells from the respective donor with suppressor function (regulatory T cells). These donor cells are purified in the laboratory and subsequently infused in the patient. These are clinical trials Phase I / II that seek to identify the safe number of cells to be administered and preliminary efficacy data. "Since cells with suppressor function are rare in peripheral blood, its purification requires complex laboratory protocols prior to administration to the patient," said João Forjaz de Lacerda. In Portugal, this process will be conducted in collaboration with the Immuno-Hematology HSM Service. João Forjaz de Lacerda, Attending Physician at the Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Service at HSM, Associate Professor at FMUL and Group Leader of the Hematology and Immunology Laboratory of Transplant at IMM confesses: "I am very happy that we have achieved this funding, since the Grants from Horizon 2020 EU Program are a reference and the top of the research grants in Europe "and adds that" Achieving funding of this magnitude with the responsibility of the projects' coordination is a major challenge." Horizon2020 Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation Programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

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