Talecris Biotherapeutics GmbH announced yesterday the recipients of the 2010 European alpha1-antitrypsin Laurell's Training Awards (eALTA). The annual awards, sponsored by Talecris, provide two fellowships of 50,000 euros to young investigators whose research aims to enhance the understanding and treatment of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency). AAT deficiency is a rare, genetic condition in which low levels of the alpha-1 protein can result in emphysema and liver disease.
The 2010 recipients of eALTA are Sandra Pelz, postgraduate research fellow at the Martin-Luther-University in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany and Dr Adriana Ordonez, post-doctoral research fellow at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research Wellcome Trust. Pelz and Ordonez were presented with the awards during the 2010 European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona at a Talecris-sponsored symposium. The symposium also featured research presentations by the 2009 eALTA award winners.
Pelz and Ordonez's research projects will both explore potential new therapies to treat AAT deficiency. Pelz's research project will use a mouse model to investigate the potential use of stem cell-derived liver cells, known as hepatocytes, to correct the genetic defect that gives rise to liver disease associated with AAT deficiency. Ordonez's project will study the mechanism by which small molecule inhibitors – a specific class of drug – can block the Alpha-1 protein from abnormally folding and accumulating in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes.
"Research initiatives such as eALTA not only increase our understanding of the disease, but they also help stimulate the interest and commitment of early career scientists and clinicians who represent the future of research and new treatments for the Alpha-1 community," said Claus Vogelmeier, Professor for Internal and Respiratory Medicine and Chair of the independent eALTA Review Team.
Talecris sponsors the awards program to gain new insights into the epidemiology, pathophysiology and clinical treatment of AAT deficiency and associated disorders. As the manufacturer of PROLASTIN®-C (Alpha1-Proteinase Inhibitor [Human]), Talecris demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the Alpha-1 community through eALTA and other research programs. PROLASTIN®-C is indicated for chronic augmentation and maintenance therapy in adults with emphysema due to deficiency of Alpha1-Proteinase Inhibitor. To date, Talecris has provided more than 650,000 euros through the eALTA program.
"Supporting the discovery of new insights into the mechanisms behind this life-threatening disease is important to Talecris," said Marion Wencker, Head of Medical and Clinical Affairs Europe, Talecris Europe, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. "We feel a strong responsibility to contribute to the knowledge base of alpha-1 and the potential new therapies that may improve treatment for patients worldwide. eALTA provides one avenue through which we accomplish this important goal."