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Life Science Call 2016: WWTF awards approx. 4.7 million Euro sponsorship for precision medicine

All five sponsored projects directly related to MedUni Vienna
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Image: MedUni Vienna/Martin Hörmandinger
from left: Giulio Superti-Furga, Michaela Fritz, Rainer Oberbauer, Michael Stampfer and Ulrich Jäger

(Wien, 30-09-2016) On Friday, in the context of a press conference at MedUni Vienna, the Vienna science, research and technology fund (WWTF) has announced the five successful projects of the "Life Science Call 2016" for precision medicine (personalised medicine).  Overall, the sponsorship of approx. 4.7 million Euro is awarded. The medical university Vienna is substantially involved in all projects.

"Precision medicine, in combination with modern high-throughput technologies, opens the doors to the next generation of medicine, where the individual patients are paramount. The large number of excellent applications indicates the strong representation of this trend in Vienna. For this reason, WWTF has devoted the funds for this call in order to promote Vienna in precision medicine, particularly interdisciplinary research and the cooperation between the various Vienna institutes", so Michael Stampfer, Managing Director of WWTF. "The projects, awarded by WWTF with approx. 4.7 million Euro, have the objective of exploring and improving specific therapies and diagnoses by way of identifying the individual features of the patients with genetic examinations and other high-throughput methods (so-called '-omics')."

"The fact that all five awarded projects are directly linked with MedUni Vienna or take place on our premises is an outstanding success and demonstrates that the Medical University Vienna has a leading role particularly in precision medicine, which is the most important trend in medicine in the 21st century. We meet this trend at MedUni Vienna also with a new centre for precision medicine on the MedUni Campus AKH; commencement of construction is scheduled for 2018, which ensures that results of basic research can benefit the patients in personalised therapy as quickly as possible.

The five supported projects in detail:

„Prolongation of kidney transplant survival through risk stratification of omics-wide incompatibilities using systems biology - a personalized medicine approach.“
Rainer Oberbauer, Chief of the clinical division for nephrology and dialysis (University Clinic for Internal Medicine III of MedUni Vienna).
Project description: Research of personalised genetic factors in the donor and receiver, which can predict the risk of rejecting the kidney transplant

"Therapeutic targeting of EGFR in colorectal cancer as a novel approach to predict and enhance tumour antigenicity and response to checkpoint inhibitors."  Maria Sibilia, Chief of the Institute for Cancer Research of MedUni Vienna.
Project description:  Examination of complex interactions between tumour cells and their environment for the development of new, immunotherapeutic objectives at bowel cancer

"PHARMACOSCOPY: Breaking resistance of refractory blood cancers through ex vivo automated image-based analysis of drug action." Giulio Superti-Furga, CEMM, Research Centre for Molecular Medicine of the Science Academy, Professor for "Medical Systems Biology" at MedUni Vienna
Project description: Precision medicine for treatment resistant blood cancer patients by way of an automated procedure based on confocal microscopy to predict the effectiveness of medication. The project is in cooperation with the Division of Hematology and Hemostaseology (Ulrich Jäger).

“Systems precision medicine of inborn errors of the immune system (PrecisePID)”. Kaan Boztug, Chief of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Disorders; CeMM Research Centre; University Clinic for Children and Adolescent Medicine of MedUni Vienna.
Project description: Identification and deciphering of molecular causes and specific attack points and/or therapies in rare monogenetic immune diseases by way of a combination of modern "-omics" methods.

"Deciphering genomic aberrations in rare skin cancers to find mechanism-based treatment strategies." Anna Obenauf, IMP (Research Institute for Molecular Pathology), in cooperation with MedUni Vienna.
Project description: Development of specific cancer therapies through the research of genetic changes in rare skin cancer types

About the Life Science Call "Precision Medicine"
WWTF-Life Science Call was conducted for the ninth time, for the first time with respect to the special sector of "Precision Medicine". Precision medicine and genome research are considered the future of medicine and are the to-date most important trend of medicine in the 21st century. The focus of the projects is on the improved connection of Life Sciences with other natural sciences; the research results are expected to provide mid-term improvement for health and/or human well-being. An international jury of experts has now selected five winning projects from 64 applications.

The call went out to Vienna university and extra-university research facilities as well as scientists and clinical researchers who are planning a project over 2-4 years with focus on personalised medicine, based on 'omics' technologies and patient cohorts, also including researchers who wish to come to Vienna with this project.