Add-on grant for the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery

Grantee: The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery

Amount: DKK 15,099,443

Grant category: Strategic grants

Year: 2021

Geography: Denmark

A new grant of DKK 15 million will enable the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery (LFCCDD) at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Copenhagen to further strengthen its research on how drug permeation into and through the skin can be enhanced for improved treatment outcome.

The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery was established in 2017 based on a 10-year grant of DKK 40 million from the LEO Foundation. The new DKK 15 million grant adds to the previous grant.

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Global Psoriasis Atlas Phase II (GPA 2020-2023)

Grantee: Professor Chris Griffiths, University of Manchester

Amount: DKK 8,000,000

Grant category: Strategic grants

Year: 2020

Geography: United Kingdom

Psoriasis is a significant, life-long and currently incurable skin disease, which, according to the first edition of the Global Psoriasis Atlas (GPA), affects at least 60 million people worldwide.

The need to understand and uncover how psoriasis impacts both the individual and society at large is in demand. The Global Psoriasis Atlas is a long-term project that seeks to become the ‘go-to’ evidence-based resource within the understanding of psoriasis and its effects on people and society all over the World.

GPA Phase II (2020-2023)

The GPA Phase II  is focused on continued research to establish robust data that address existing knowledge gaps within psoriasis on epidemiology, improving diagnosis, comorbid disease and economic impact.

Furthermore, if sufficient and robust data are available, the plan is to perform a pilot implementation study as part of GPA Phase II.

Addressing these key areas and how they differ between countries and regions will support the aim to provide better access to care for people with psoriasis worldwide.

Background

With a mission to ‘ensure that people with psoriasis, wherever they live in the world, have access to the best available care. The grant for the first version of the GPA was granted to Professor Griffiths and the University of Manchester in 2016.

The LEO Foundation has been main funder of the development of the first edition of the GPA through a 3-year grant of DKK 6,370,000 from 2017 – 2020. The GPA project has in its first three years focused on research into the global prevalence and incidence of psoriasis – resulting in the first edition of the GPA website which can be accessed free of charge here: Global Psoriasis Atlas online

Single Cell Sequencing Instruments – Add-on grant for LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center

Grantee: University of Copenhagen

Amount: DKK 15,296,667

Grant category: Strategic grants

Year: 2019

Geography: Denmark

Researchers in immunology, cell biology and cancer were first movers in single-cell sequencing when they demonstrated a huge potential of this novel technology to unravel novel cell populations and disease heterogeneity.

This approach has gained further momentum fueled by new, exiting studies in neurobiology and rheumatology. So far, single-cell sequencing has not been used in relation to skin diseases – with few exceptions such as our new study on single-cell sequencing in cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) – the first paper of its kind – which was rapidly followed by three additional papers on single-cell sequencing in CTCL.

Moving from investigating an average of molecular changes in thousands or millions of cells to the study of changes in the transcriptome in single cells is critical to obtain a deeper and more precise understanding of disease heterogeneity and novel disease mechanisms. In other words, single-cell sequencing is expected to become the novel golden standard in all areas of research related to immunology and inflammation including the scientific focus area of the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center.

The “package” provides the sufficient capacity to conduct state-of-the-art single-cell analysis in the key areas of the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center. In order to get maximal advantage, value, and rapid implementation of the instruments, we will employ a novel protocol for this platform to run up to 5 different modalities (mRNA, TCRab, TCRgd, surface proteins, sample hashing and CRISPR lead sequences) in parallel to top-tune the technology.

LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center

Grantee: University of Copenhagen

Amount: DKK 250,000,000

Grant category: Strategic grants

Year: 2018

Geography: Denmark

Diseases of the skin affect a quarter of the population, more than a billion people, at any given time. Despite impressive progress, especially in the area of immunology in skin diseases, the pace of innovation is not sufficiently high and new treatments are slow to reach patients.

Here, we propose to create a LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center (Skin Immunology Center) that will become a beacon for skin research in Denmark and worldwide.

The Center will identify key questions relating to disease heterogeneity, new pathological mechanisms, and novel therapies of inflammatory skin diseases. With the ultimate aim of helping people with skin diseases in the best possible way, we will launch a focused effort employing cutting edge technologies to advance biological insights and translate basic discoveries to ‘proof of principle’ and then to ‘first in man’ applications (‘bench-to-bedside’). Importantly, observations and questions arising in the clinic will be taken back to the laboratory (‘bedside-tobench’). This team science concept and ecosystem with seamless translation and back-translation between basic biology and the clinic will animate the spirit of the Center from day one.

The Skin Immunology Center will be headquartered at the 12th floor of the Mærsk Tower, the new flagship building at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

We will bring together the immunology of the skin, its diseases and comorbidities, ‘omics’ technologies, experimental models, and strong clinical integration to develop new stratification paradigms and therapies towards precision medicine. People will form the basis of the success of the Center and we will both empower existing scientists and strategically hire new talent. We will build a pipeline of future top researchers through excellent educational activities. In this way, the Center will incubate and form a new generation of multidisciplinary skin immunology researchers, ready to reshape the field for decades to come.

From the start, we will collaborate across specialties, institutions and geographies. The Skin Immunology Center will aim to have a total of 60 members in the core member research groups when fully operational, a critical mass allowing it to contribute significantly to raising the level and quality of research and education in inflammatory skin diseases.

The existing LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will become an associated and collaborating partner. The Skin Immunology Center will integrate and advance basic and clinical science approaches to skin disease and develop future leaders in the field, while increasing knowledge and awareness of skin and skin diseases among medical professionals, patients and the public.

LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery

Grantee: Department of Pharmacy, University of Copenhagen

Amount: DKK 40,000,000

Grant category: Strategic grants

Year: 2015

Geography: Denmark

Understanding how drugs interact with skin has long been a challenge within pharmaceutical research. Now, a new center at the Department of Pharmacy, UCPH, is set to become an international lighthouse in this research area, supported by a DKK 40 million grant from the LEO Foundation.

The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will form the basis of new research on skin and drugs. Behind the project is the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen, where the center will also be located. The Director of the new center, Martin Malmsten, was formerly Head of Research at Uppsala University.

“I hope to contribute with my experience and thus help motivate and inspire colleagues and employees, enabling us to provide the best possible results. At the same time, I look forward to becoming part of the University of Copenhagen, where they have been very willing to prioritize strategic focus areas. The new center offers great and long-term opportunities for making an impact on international research and I’m happy to be part of this initiative, which will lift research in a very exciting area,” said Martin Malmsten.

The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will conduct research on what happens in and on the skin when we apply drugs. There will be a particular focus on the physical-chemical aspects of the interaction between skin and drugs, which is important to the development of new drugs. This will hopefully help optimize the drug properties and allow for maximum utilization while simultaneously minimizing side effects.

“Our new center meets a huge demand for understanding how drugs interact with skin. With a strong team of highly qualified researchers, we will set new standards for research in the field of dermatology and I’m both proud and grateful that this grant from the LEO Foundation has helped us attract new and strong forces to UCPH. This new strategic effort will benefit patients as well as society in general,” said Dean Ulla Wewer from the Department of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

Generating new knowledge while also providing a space for innovative research methods and new analytical technologies is what the center aims for. The LEO Foundation has backed the center with a grant of DKK 40 million over the next ten years, which in itself is quite remarkable.

“We’re very happy to support this important initiative and the grant of DKK 40 million over the next ten years is the single largest grant the foundation has ever awarded. What’s more important, however, is the fact that we are quite convinced that the center with its strong team of researchers has the potential to become a global powerhouse in terms of research on the dynamic interaction between drugs and skin,” said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.