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IMM Project Awarded by American Foundation

October 14, 2014

The Instituto de Medicina Molecular research project, led by Henrique Veiga-Fernandes, on "Control of innate lymphoid cells and intestinal homeostasis by neurotrophic factors" has been selected to receive a Breakthrough Award of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation (KRF).

This fund distinguishes the innovator grantees who have demonstrated significant progress in advancing their original research hypotheses. In 2013 Henrique Veiga-Fernandes was one of the seven researchers awardees with an Innovator Award of the Foundation, the only from a non-US based Research institute, and was selected from a competitive pool of applicants from non-profit research institutions worldwide.

It is expected that this research will open new research horizons, potentially uncovering new therapeutic targets for defined innate lymphoid cells functions, which are critical to the understanding of Crohn's disease causes, treatment and outcome.

According to Henrique Veiga-Fernandes this research project "will study a novel and fully unexplored molecule that controls immune function; thus opening new horizons for innovative research on intestinal inflammatory disease".

Innate lymphoid cells are a novel family of immune cells that have been recently shown to orchestrate host-bacteria interaction and tissue protection in the intestine. Importantly, pro-inflammatory innate cells are increased in Crohn's disease patients, while their anti-microbial and tissue-protective counterparts are reduced in this condition.

This research project will explore how a novel molecular "switch" controls innate immunity and how tuning its activity ameliorates intestinal inflammation leading to new therapy strategies for inflammatory bowel disease

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