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The only European researcher to win this year's Early Career Bayer Hemophilia Award is Portuguese

Vanessa Oliveira, researcher at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Portugal won a prestigious and competitive Early Career Bayer Hemophilia Award. Oliveira will develop a strategy to reprogramme the immune system of hemophilia patients to avoid immune targeting of the most used clotting therapeutics. Oliveira was the only European researcher to win this award in 2010, in a total of 5 worldwide. The Portuguese researcher will receive US$170.000 to develop her project during two years.

Vanessa Oliveira will develop a strategy to reprogramme the immune system of hemophilia patients to avoid immune targeting of the most used clotting therapeutics. The treatment of hemophilia is based in the administration of laboratory produced clotting factors that the patients cannot make due to a genetic defect. However, a significant proportion of patients with severe hemophilia develop immune responses against these therapeutic clotting factors, which limits the efficacy of the treatment.

Although there have been several attempts to impair this undesired immune response, none of them has revealed efficient. Vanessa will study the causes for the limited efficacy of previously attempted methods to suppress undesirable immune response in hemophilia treatment, while developing new strategies to induce the patient's immune tolerance towards therapeutic clotting factors. This is a basic research project that will be developed in an animal model (mouse).

If results are promising, the project will be further developed to clinical studies. If Vanessas basic research is successful, it may help to improve the efficacy of current treatments. The project will be fully developed in Portugal, at the IMM's Cellular Immunology Unit, led by researcher Luis Graca.

The IMM's Cellular Immunology Unit has been developing cutting edge research in the area of immune-mediated diseases, such as asthma, transplantation and autoimmunity. The Unit's research has already resulted in the formation of a star-up company to develop a novel therapy to prevent liver transplant rejection.


Contact: Marta Agostinho
Instituto de Medicina Molecular

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