ERC Grant for research on new method to diagnose and treat inflammatory bowel disease

2020-12-09

Just a minute… Alexandra Teleki, researcher in drug development, who receives 2 million euros from the European Research Council to develop a new method to diagnose and treat inflammatory bowel disease in children.

Alexandra Teleki, researcher in drug development
Alexandra Teleki, researcher in drug development

How will you use the ERC Consolidator Grant?
“The field of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases faces many major challenges. We need to increase our knowledge about what causes them; we also need effective tools for diagnosis and treatment. Historically, they have mainly occurred in Europe and North America, but are now spreading in recently industrialized countries, for example in Asia. Every fourth patient develops the disease already as a child, but the methods available to healthcare entail significant risks for a young body. We want to change that.”

How will you proceed?
“Today in children, an endoscopic examination with sampling of biopsies under anesthesia is required to identify where in the gastrointestinal tract the inflammation is located and how active it is. Thereafter, healthcare can adapt the treatment to reduce the inflammation. We want to enable a transition to magnetic resonance imaging, which is performed without either physical intervention or ionizing radiation. We will do this with a nanoparticle that localises the inflammation and determines its activity. With nanoparticles, we will also transport drugs and release the right dose locally in the gastrointestinal tract. The particle itself is administered orally and is biocompatible and non-toxic, which facilitates treatment at home.”

What will make your work successful?
“The particle we use is simple to produce and flexible in size and composition. Our biggest challenge will be to identify biomarkers that indicate inflammatory bowel disease and that the particle can bind to in the gastrointestinal tract, but even here it looks very promising. We recently published a study in which we mapped preclinical biomarkers that meet our needs. We have also gathered a very competent project group with leading environments at Uppsala University's faculties of pharmacy and medicine, SciLifeLab, Uppsala University Children's Hospital and the University of Florida. Overall, it makes me confident that we will succeed.”

What significance can your work have in healthcare?
“As a child, developing inflammatory bowel disease is a demanding and traumatic experience in many ways. We want to simplify the diagnosis and treatment they have to undergo, and naturally hope that our results can also be transferred to adult patients. Our ambition is that the technology can also be applied to diagnose colon cancer - for which inflammatory bowel disease is an important indicator, and has therefore initiated collaboration with cancer researchers at Umeå University.”

Facts

  • The Project MAGNETO: Nanoengineered magnetoresponsive diagnosis and personalized treatment of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease will last 2021–2025
  • The work is funded by the European Research Council with a EUR 2 million ERC Consolidator Grant.
  • The work will be led by Alexandra Teleki, the Faculty of Pharmacy, SciLifeLab and Uppsala University.
  • The project group includes
  • Christel Bergström and Per Artursson, Faculty of Pharmacy, Uppsala University
  • Mia Phillipson, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University
  • Niklas Nyström and Mattias Paulsson, Gastroenterology clinic, Uppsala University Children's Hospital
  • Carlos Rinaldi, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida

More information

Contact

Contact Alexandra TelekiAlexandra Teleki, Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacy
alexandra.teleki@farmaci.uu.se

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Teleki Lab

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Last modified: 2021-11-05