DTU Health Tech receives three grants from the Independent Research Fund Denmark

tirsdag 26 maj 20


Andrew Urquhart
Gruppeleder, Lektor
DTU Sundhedsteknologi
45 25 81 69


Leticia Hosta-Rigau
Gruppeleder, Lektor
DTU Sundhedsteknologi
45 25 81 55


Sine Reker Hadrup
Sektionsleder, Professor
DTU Sundhedsteknologi
35 88 62 90

23 projects funded at DTU

23 projects at DTU have received funding from the Independent Research Fund Denmark. Read more here.

Three researchers have managed to get through the eye of the needle and have received funding for their projects from the Independent Research Fund Denmark.

The projects are concerned with different areas of health technology and shows the academic breadth of the Department of Health Technology. Spanning from nanomedicine for diabetic retinopathy, to fighting multi-drug resistant cancer and molecular mimicry related to immunotherapy.

Associate Professor Andrew James Urquhart receives 2,831,406 DKK for the project: Exploiting the Endothelial Protein C Receptor to Protect Blood-Retina Barrier Function in the Diabetic Eye

Abstract: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the inner retina, which leads to irreversible loss of vision. More than 100 million diabetics across the world suffer from DR. Unfortunately the disease remains challenging to treat, and the current treatments are only effective in very few patients. In DR, a deterioration of the so-called inner blood-retinal barrier takes place, which exposes the retina to harmful substances in the blood. Therefore, the inner blood-retinal barrier has a crucial function in sustaining a healthy retina. In this project, we will develop a new type of nanomedicine targeted at the protein Endothelial Protein C Receptor (EPCR) on the surface of the endothelial cells, which constitutes the inner blood-retinal barrier. Nanomedicine will then release activated protein C (APC) to the unhealthy endothelial cells to restore their crucial function. By targeting the nanomedicine to EPCR, a specific sorting mechanism is initiated inside the endothelial cells, which is beneficial in relation to increasing the effectiveness of APC. Currently, there are no treatment strategies under clinical development, which can deliver medicine to protect the inner blood-retinal barrier and secure restoration of its function. Therefore, our project will be a substantial contribution to the future treatment of DR.

Associate Professor Leticia Hosta-Rigau receives 2,738,993 DKK for the project: Smart vehicles to combat multi-drug resistant cancer

Abstract: Cancer often reacts to chemotherapy by developing multi-drug resistance - a primary cause for treatment failure. The major advances made in HIV treatment are to a great extent owed to a strategy of attacking the disease from several angles simultaneously. In my research, I use a similar approach to treat resistant cancer. For this purpose, I will develop a special carrier that compress the various drugs to a size that is ideal for steering the carrier to the tumor. When the carrier reaches the tumor, it splits into very small components, which are able to penetrate deeply into the tumor and deliver the different drugs that altogether give a combined effect.

Professor Sine Hadrup receives 2,879,997 DKK for the project: Molecular mimicry between viral and cancer epitopes as a key mediator of effective anti-tumor T cell responses

Abstract: Immunotherapy – a treatment where the patient’s own immune system is mobilized to eradicate cancer cells – has proven efficient against several types of cancer. When analyzing the patients, who do well after immunotherapy versus the patients, who do not respond to the treatment, it is revealed that the patients’ ability to raise a T-cell response against cancer mutations is critical. T-cells are the body’s soldiers, and they are trained to trace and kill infected or transformed (cancer)cells. Cancer cells accumulate a lot of mutations that are unfamiliar to the immune system and can potentially be detected by the patient’s T-cells. Elements from mutations that are recognised by T-cells are called neoepitopes. Some neoepitopes can bear structural resemblance to epitopes from virus. If this is the case, such virus-specific T-cells can be redirected to recognize cancer antigens. A phenomenon called ’molecular mimicry’. We will investigate if ’molecular mimicry’ play a role in patients’ ability to create a more efficient T-cell response against cancer cells.

Link to the full list of grants from the Independent Research Fund Denmark.