For the seventh time, Luxembourg-based researchers and clinicians met on 4th December 2017 for the annual retreat of the Personalised Medicine Consortium (PMC). Participants discussed the progress of on-going collaborative research projects and discovered the three laureates for the PMC’s Pump Prime funding.
For a number of years now, personalised medicine has been an important focal point for Luxembourg’s biomedical researchers. The main idea behind the creation of the PMC back in 2010 was to bring researchers and clinicians together to set up new research collaborations that aim to address unmet clinical needs in the field of personalised medicine.
Every year, scientists from LIH, IBBL - Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg), the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), and more recently the Laboratoire National de Santé (LNS) and the Life Sciences Research Unit (LSRU) of the University of Luxembourg, come together for a 1-day conference to discuss on-going projects and potential new collaborations. This year, IBBL hosted the PMC retreat at its new facilities in Dudelange. As the theme was “supporting research”, presentations from the participating institutes focused on how their expertise and facilities could be optimally used to support biomedical researchers in Luxembourg and across the borders.
In the afternoon, the winners of this year’s edition of the “Pump Prime” grant were announced and given the opportunity to present their project. Dr Annette Kuehn, principal investigator in the “Molecular and Translational Allergology” research group at LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity, was one of the three laureates with her project “Peptide signatures in allergic vs tolerant individuals: paving the way for novel personalised medicine approaches to diagnose and cure food allergies”.
Dr Kuehn explains the aim and methodology of her project: ‘Food allergies are becoming an increasingly important public health issue that we need to better understand at the molecular and immunological level, in order to develop approaches for successful treatment and future disease prevention. Our project aims to test the hypothesis that immunologically active allergen-derived peptides circulating in the bloodstream are different in food-allergic and food-tolerant individuals. To identify specific peptide signatures, we will expose patients allergic to specific foods and control persons to different food challenges. Their blood samples will then be characterised for allergen residues, specific antibodies and immune cells.’ The project involves a collaboration with the local hospital “Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg” and clinical partners from Denmark and Norway for sample collection, IBBL for sample storage, and LCSB for data set analysis.
A “Pump Prime” grant was also given to Prof Serge Haan for the project “Effects of chemotherapy-associated weight loss on pesticide burden and assessment of potential interference of pesticide exposure with the chemotherapy regimen”. This research work will benefit from a collaboration with Dr Brice Appenzeller and his team from the Human Biomonitoring Research Unit at LIH’s Department of Population Health, specialised in assessing pesticide exposure in biological samples. Another laureate was Dr Anne Grünewald from LCSB with her project “Exploring mitochondrial epigenetics as a cause of mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease”.