News items EFRO grant boosts Nijmegen research into malaria and dengue
19 July 2017

The Tropinhi Consortium has received a €1.5 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The consortium will use the grant to develop new treatments against infectious tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue and zika. Tropinhi is a framework of cooperation involving Radboud university medical center, Radboud University and the spinoffs Protinhi Therapeutics and TropIQ Health Sciences, which are located on the NovioTechCampus.

Malaria and dengue fever are transmitted by mosquitoes. Both diseases are a severe threat to public health. In 2015, there were approximately 214 million cases of malaria, resulting in more than 430,000 deaths, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, nearly 400 million people become infected with dengue fever, and both the endemic area and the number of clinical cases continue to increase.

Mosquito medication
CEO of TropIQ Koen Dechering, who is coordinating the research project together with chemist Martin Feiters of Radboud University, explains: “Malaria treatments are available, but the parasites are developing resistance to them. Moreover, these medications control only the parasites in people, not in the mosquitos. An effective approach to malaria requires new medications that prevent mosquito-borne transmission of parasites. We now have good candidates for such medications, and with this consortium we can accelerate their development.”
 
Most vulnerable patients
Protinhi is developing a medication against dengue fever and related viral diseases such as zika. Bernd van Buuren, CEO of Protinhi, explains: “No medication is currently available to treat dengue or zika. For dengue, a partially effective vaccine is available, but it cannot be used for the most vulnerable patients: children under nine years. A therapeutic medication is therefore urgently needed to combat these diseases.”
 
Protease inhibitor
The dengue virus proliferates by having its genetic material read by the infected cells of the patient. This results in large viral proteins that are cut into smaller pieces by proteases. These small proteins drive the production of new virus particles, which subsequently infect new cells. According to chemist Martin Feiters, co-founder of Protinhi: “During the cutting and splitting of those large proteins, proteases from both the virus and the patient are involved. We are working on a medication that specifically inhibits the dengue protease. As a result, we can control the virus with few or no side effects for humans. Together with Ronald van Rij at the Department of Medical Microbiology of Radboud university medical center, we are looking for the best way to work with these new dengue virus inhibitors. We have good evidence that we can also use this technology to develop new medications for both malaria and zika.”

Virus transmission
The research group of Ronald van Rij at Radboud university medical center specialises in mosquito-borne viruses, such as the West Nile virus, dengue and chikungunya. Van Rij: “Our research focuses on host factors, both in humans and mosquitoes, which impact the efficiency of virus transmission. This enhances our understanding of virus transmission by mosquitoes. In addition, this knowledge is crucial to the development of effective medications.”
 
Public-private partnership
Due to the public-private partnership, Tropinhi (a conjunction of TropIQ and Protinhi) can make optimal use of the vast knowledge that is available in Nijmegen on infectious diseases and their control. For example, the Department of Synthetic Organic Chemistry at Radboud University has expertise in designing and building organic molecules; subsequently, the companies in the consortium can test, develop and potentially market these as new pharmaceuticals. And Radboud university medical center provides fundamental knowledge about the interaction of the potential medications with viruses and parasites in the human body and can also test their effects in animals and people.
 
Employment opportunities

In this way, the ERDF grant will promote effective collaboration in tropical infectious diseases. The funding impulse is also expected to provide new employment opportunities for the eastern Netherlands region. In the short term, this will result in additional research employment for highly educated knowledge workers. If the research results are positive, in the long term this will also lead to more employment in product development.
 
­­

More information on
TropIQ Health Sciences
Protinhi Therapeutics
Onderzoekslab Ronald van Rij
EFRO
 

More information


Pieter Lomans

information officer

(024) 81 87012

Related news items


Lowering cholesterol is not enough to reduce hyperactivity of the immune system

14 June 2019

In Cell Metabolism, Siroon Bekkering, theme Vascular damage, and colleagues, provides a novel potential explanation for the residual cardiovascular risk, related to persistent activation of the immune system in patients with hypercholesterolemia who are treated with statins.

read more

New cause for vaginal yeast infections discovered

13 June 2019

Martin Jaeger, theme Infectious diseases and global health, and colleagues, identified SIGLEC15 as a susceptibility factor in recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Their findings were published in Science Translational Medicine.

read more

Internal KWF review procedure 2020

13 June 2019

In agreement with the existing policy the research board and Radboud Center for Oncology have decided to continue with the mandatory internal review procedure for KWF grant applications.

read more

A personal touch of Johan van der Vlag

13 June 2019

In order to promote interaction amongst colleagues within RIMLS, we have a ‘personal touch’ series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don’t. This week: Johan van der Vlag.

read more

Peter van der Kraan new theme leader Inflammatory diseases

13 June 2019

It is our pleasure to introduce Peter van der Kraan from the Dept. of Rheumatology, as the new leader of our theme Inflammatory diseases. As such he will be the successor of Irma Joosten who has done an outstanding job in the last years as theme leader, for which we thank her wholeheartedly.

read more

Intake of a reduced dose of pazopanib with food the effect on pharmacokinetics, patient safety and preference

13 June 2019

In Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics Floor Lubberman and colleagues showed that the intake of 600mg pazopanib with food resulted in a bioequivalent exposure and was preferred over a standard pazopanib dose without food.

read more