Nordic Bioscience to participate in EU funded ALD research project GALAXY

16 December, 2015

Intestinal bacteria to fight deadly liver disease

The research Consortium GALAXY led by University of Southern Denmark in Denmark has just received 6.3 million € from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to combat cirrhosis of the liver, which has a lower survival rate than several types of cancer.

Liver cirrhosis accounts for 1.8% of all deaths in Europe causing around 170,000 deaths per year. Europe is the heaviest drinking region in the world and alcohol is the main cause of liver disease, including cirrhosis. Survival rates for liver disease have not shown the same improvement in recent years as seen for many types of diseases, but the research group GALAXY, led by Odense University Hospital, is about to change that.

The research group has just received 47 million kroner from the EU, and the head of the research group, Aleksander Krag, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark and consultant at the department of gastrointestinal and liver diseases at Odense University Hospital, has high hopes for the project.

Aleksander Krag and his colleagues have noted that people vary in their sensitivity to alcohol. About 5-10% of heavy drinkers get cirrhosis of the liver. Other people will also develop the disease even at modest drinking levels, but we cannot predict who that will be. This means that many patients are diagnosed so late that they already have irreparable damage to their livers.

Liver damage needs to be detected much earlier

The goal of the 6-year research project is to find an easy and effective way to identify the people who do not know that they have the disease. This could, for example, be a blood test can detect early liver damage and predict who will more quickly develop liver cirrhosis and are thus in most need of treatment.

The answer is expected to be related to the bacteria living in the intestine. The research group's hypothesis is that these bacteria interact with the liver to either protect it or to promote the formation of scar tissue in the liver.

Nordic Bioscience is a world-leading biomarker extracellular matrix specialist in developing highly disease-specific biochemical markers for diagnosis and prognosis of various diseases. Nordic Bioscience has developed a method for identifying and quantifying disease-specific fragments that exceeds the specificity of gold standard biomarkers with regards to biological relevance and scientific rationale. Thus our goal in this project is to quantify structural tissue formation and degradation of scar tissue in the liver earlier than gold standard biomarkers are able to.

The research project starts on the 1st January 2016 and runs for six years.

Facts about the research group

The project is run by a consortium called GALAXY. Besides Odense University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark, the group includes:

  • Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Steno Diabetes Center
  • University of Oslo (Norway)
  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg (Germany)
  • Universitätsklinikum Bonn (Germany)
  • Academy of Biomedical Research Foundation (Greece)
  • Nordic Bioscience (Denmark)
  • Nordic Rebalance (Denmark)

 

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 668031.