Dutch molecular medicine institute allocates 150m for disease research

7 April 2008

The Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM) in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, has awarded 150 million of funding for nine research projects.

CTMM is a public-private consortium of universities, academic medical centres, medical technology enterprises and chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

Dutch university medical centres, a broad spectrum of small and medium-sized enterprises, major industry leaders including Philips and Organon (a part of Schering-Plough), and the Dutch Government are involved in the projects.

The research is directed at the most prevalent diseases in the cardiovascular area, cancer and neurodegeneration (Alzheimer's disease). These three areas of disease have the biggest impact on people throughout the western world. The research is focused firmly on the 'translational' aspects of molecular medicine so that results can be applied as quickly as possible to actual patient care.

Prof. Dr Rob Reneman, chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Board of CTMM, said, "These R&D projects are highly innovative and tackle some of the biggest challenges in modern medicine, including finding better ways to early diagnose and treat diseases such as heart failure, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmias, childhood leukemia, Alzheimer's disease and various types of cancer.

"With the joint expertise of the best Dutch scientists and R&D groups in major industry and small and medium enterprises we can expect new important scientific breakthroughs, that will not only have a major clinical, but also an economic impact."

"The CTMM has proven to be a highly effective mechanism for establishing partnerships between clinicians, academia and industry in order to address major healthcare issues for people in the Netherlands and the wider world," said Hans Hoogervorst, former Dutch Minister of Health and current Chairman of the CTMM Supervisory Board.

The selected CTMM projects focus on molecular medicine that aims to understand how diseases develop at the molecular and cellular level. Many of these projects are seeking to identify so-called 'biomarkers', such as abnormal proteins in the blood, that often appear long before the patient develops symptoms. Molecular medicine therefore has the potential to allow diagnosis and treatment at a much earlier stage than symptom-based diagnosis. Because treating disease in its early stages generally requires less aggressive interventions, this approach may lead to fewer side effects, better patient outcomes and more effective use of healthcare resources.

CTMM will organise a second call for project proposals this autumn. All CTMM projects are judged by an independent International Advisory Board and approved by a supervisory board based on their significant potential to translate research knowledge into clinical practice. The CTMM is funded by the Dutch government (50%), academia (25%) and industry (25%).

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