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Research Funding
22.07.2022

FERROPath Consortium: Helmholtz Munich Researchers Receive BMBF Research Funding

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding research of new treatment strategies for preventing tissue ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) as part of the FERROPath consortium. Starting in July 2022, the consortium receives BMBF funding of nearly three million euros for three years. Helmholtz Munich is involved with two projects and will receive a total of just under one million euros.

Left: Marcus Conrad; right: Ali Önder Yildirim © Dr. Bettina Proneth for Helmholtz Munich/ Michael Haggenmüller for Helmholtz Munich

What is ischemia-reperfusion injury?

Ischemia-reperfusion injuries (IRI) are mostly untreatable injuries in different organs of the body, which, paradoxically, occur when tissues suffering from impaired blood flow restore normal blood flow. The consequences of this can be detrimental. More than one million people throughout Europe suffer from the consequences of ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), such as stroke or acute kidney damage. Ferroptosis – a type of cell death caused by iron-dependent lipid peroxidation, which can destroy the cell membrane and ultimately cause cell death – is one of the causative factors in the occurrence of IRI-induced tissue damage.

Helmholtz Munich leads two subprojects of the consortium

Dr. Marcus Conrad along with Dr. Bettina Proneth from the Institute of Metabolism and Cell Death are running the subproject “In vivo modulation of ferroptosis using transgenic mouse models and new small molecules as effective ferroptosis inhibitors”. “We are examining next-generation ferroptosis inhibitors in various IRI-relevant mouse models to determine their anti-ferroptotic efficacy, as well as to identify new biomarkers for ferroptosis using these transgenic models,” says Conrad.

Dr. Ali Önder Yildirim and Dr. Aicha Jeridi from the Institute of Lung Health and Immunity (LHI) are working on the second subproject “Specific examination of the role of ferroptosis in rejecting lung transplants following successful lung transplantation”. “The lungs are among those organs most affected by ischemia-reperfusion injury post-transplantation,” says Ali Önder. “We therefore aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of ferroptosis in order to prevent future rejections of lung transplants.”

What does FERROPath stand for?

The FERROPath consortium’s initials highlight the overall objective of the program, namely “investigating ferroptosis as a common, underlying pathomechanism in tissue ischemia-reperfusion injuries” and finding a way to prevent consequences of IRI including early cell loss, tissue dysfunction, and necrotic inflammation.

Helmholtz Munich is one of four partners in the interdisciplinary consortium, which includes experts with a wide range of different disciplines including (oxy)lipidomics, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical development, immunology, organ transplantation, and preclinical and clinical research. In addition to the Helmholtz Munich scientists, the consortium includes researchers from TU Dresden, University Hospital Dresden, University Hospital Regensburg and University Hospital Essen.