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FWF awards generous Institute for Advanced Study grants to interdisciplinary postdocs team

MedUni Vienna is coordinating the establishment of a research platform for the preclinical development of peptide drugs
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MedUni-Wien-Forscher an FWF Zukunftskolleg beteiligt: Roland Hellinger (Koordinator) und Tim Hendrikx (rechts)

(Vienna,  April 2020) For the second time, the FWF science fund has allocated a total of €8.6 million of funding for research projects involving the innovative and interdisciplinary collaboration of excellent postdoc teams. At MedUni Vienna, Roland Hellinger from the Institute of Pharmacology is coordinating the "Institute for Advanced Study" [Zukunftskolleg] project, which will set up a research platform for preclinical development of peptide drugs.

The Board of Trustees of the FWF Science Fund approved four Institutes for Advanced Study at Austrian research establishments in April 2020. Interdisciplinarity, innovative research approaches and networking of internationally outstanding young scientists are at the forefront of this research funding programme, which was developed jointly with the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Pharmacologist Roland Hellinger is coordinating an inter-university project to set up a research platform for the preclinical development of peptide drugs. His collaborative partners are immunologist Dagmar Gotthardt from Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine, molecular biologist Tim Hendrikx from MedUni Vienna's Department of Laboratory Medicine and pharmaceutical chemist Kirtikumar Bhaskarrao Jadhav and computational chemist Eva-Maria Zangerl-Plessl, both from the University of Vienna.

In modern drug development, there is appreciable recognition of the potential of peptide compounds (amino acid compounds) as highly promising starting points for the development of innovative treatments. However, it is difficult for any single laboratory or individual scientist to see a highly promising peptide through all phases of multidisciplinary drug development. For this reason, many of these promising peptide agents never make it as far as the patient. The aim of the collaborative project is to establish an interdisciplinary research platform covering the entire spectrum of disciplines involved in drug development, in order to prepare peptides that have been successfully tested in preclinical studies for crucial clinical use.

In this project, the collaborative partners are launching an interdisciplinary research platform going by the name of "PeptAIDes" (Peptides for the treatment of Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases), which brings together several disciplines involved in pharmaceutical development. PeptAIDes will combine four pillars in one collaborative approach: i) studies into molecular peptide-receptor interactions, ii) implementation of novel peptide synthesis strategies for optimising peptide properties, iii) pharmacological evaluation for the targeted development of drug features and iv) validation of the most promising of the peptide candidates in relevant models of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.