Grifols recently presented the winners of the 2012 European Alpha1-Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Awards (eALTA) with their prizes. The annual awards, sponsored by Grifols, provide two fellowships of €50,000 to young investigators whose research contributes to the understanding and treatment of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency). AAT deficiency is a rare, genetic condition in which low levels of the alpha1 protein can result in severe lung and liver disease.
The 2012 recipients of eALTA are Emily Fiona Arielle van 't Wout of Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands and Riccardo Ronzoni of the University of Brescia in Italy. Van 't Wout and Ronzoni were presented with the awards Sunday, Sept. 2 at the 2012 European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Vienna during the Grifols-sponsored symposium.
Van 't Wout's research project will explore the production and accumulation in lung cells of the Z-AAT protein – a mutated form of the AAT protein which gives rise to lung and liver damage. Van 't Wout will also study whether cigarette smoke can promote the accumulation of Z-AAT polymers in lung cells, thereby contributing to lung cell damage.
Ronzoni's research project will investigate rare AAT mutations in hepatocytes, or liver cells, that cause lung damage through mechanisms that are different from those of the more common Z-ATT mutation. His project will also explore strategies that may interfere with these mechanisms.
"Research initiatives such as eALTA not only increase our understanding of the disease and its treatments, 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 alpha1 community," said Claus Vogelmeier, Professor of Internal and Respiratory Medicine at the Hospital of the Universities of Giessen and Marburg, Germany, and chair of the independent eALTA Review Team.
Grifols sponsors the eALTA awards to gain new insights into the epidemiology, pathophysiology and clinical treatment of AAT deficiency and associated disorders. As the manufacturer of plasma derived products to treat AAT deficiency, Grifols demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the alpha1 community through eALTA and other research programs. To date, eALTA has provided more than €850,000. for research.
The European Alpha1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award supports basic and clinical research through two annual grants provided to early career investigators. The program is named in honor of Dr. Carl-Bertil Laurell, who first described alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency) in 1963. The primary goal of the eALTA program is to identify and support research projects that enhance the understanding of disease mechanisms of AAT deficiency, improve existing therapies, and identify potential new therapies. The eALTA program also promotes the entry of new clinicians and scientists into the field of AAT disorders and encourages collaborations among scientists in the field. For more information, go to http://www.eALTA.eu/