NMS Researchers win funding to study chronic inflammation in liver disease

The research group led by Michel Kranendonk, from the ToxOmics research unit, won financing from the Horizon Europe Program to study non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The financed project is based on existing collaborations between members of the EU COST Action Prospective European Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, in which NMS Researchers Michel Kranendonk and Francisco Esteves are participating since 2018.

The new halt-RONIN (halt-chROnic INflammation) project is coordinated by Prof. Javier Cubero (Complutense University of Madrid) and was funded by Horizon Europe (HORIZON-HLTH-2022-STAYHLTH-02/101095679) with over 6 million euros with 18 partners, including academic and clinical research centers as well as SMEs.

We spoke to the researchers to know more.

What is the main purpose of this project and why is it important?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a multifactorial chronic inflammatory illness and a fast-growing health problem in Western society, especially due to its potential progression to the more severe inflammatory stages of disease - non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and liver cancer. NAFLD remains difficult to diagnose and treat as the causes for the transition from healthy to fatty liver to NASH remain poorly understood. The project aims to uncover the early triggers of disease initiation and the drivers that lead to disease progression. A systems biology approach, with integrative disease modelling will be applied, for the improvement of already existing detection methods, providing a blueprint to inform personalized intervention strategies and drug discovery for NAFLD. 

What questions will you pursue next, in the scope of this work?

Besides drug metabolism, the cytochrome P450 enzyme complex is involved in many other important physiological processes and pathologies, especially concerning liver function. As such, its role in the evolution of different metabolic liver disease states should be clarified with our approach. The outcomes of this project may indicate additional roles of components of this enzyme complex in other chronic diseases, which will be explored subsequently, particularly regarding its role in chronic inflammation and cancer.

What does this award mean to you/research team?

The award allows the maintenance and recruitment of top-level researchers, and represents funding for the improvement of research conditions, in the pursuit of prevention and treatment of an ever-growing health problem. Besides the privilege of being part of this European consortium, it also represents an international recognition for the research work we have been performing over the years.

What will this award change for your research? Does it open new doors/new possibilities?

The award represents an empowerment in performing our ongoing research, set within an international research network, with a valuable exchange of knowledge and expertise. This potentiates our goal in performing high impact research, and in creating synergies with renowned research groups to address serious health problems of today’s society.

Michel Kranendonk
Francisco Esteves

Xenobiotic Metabolism

Michel Kranendonk