Protein aggregation in host defense and skin inflammation

Grantee: Artur Schmidtchen, Professor, Dermatology and Venereology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University

Amount: DKK 2,100,000

Grant category: Research grants in open competition

Year: 2020

Geography: Sweden

The primary goal of this project is to identify and characterize the ‘aggregatome’, which describes the complete and complex network of proteins that are involved in the specific mechanism where the body – via its immune system – protects itself e.g. from bacteria. Subsequently, the project will explore and define the roles of the ‘aggregatome’ in inflammatory skin diseases.

The ultimate goal is to obtain new and deeper understanding of diseases affected by protein aggregation and potentially identify biomarkers of diagnostic significance.

Deciphering the Role of Non-Coding RNAs in Epidermal Carcinogenesis

Grantee: Andor Pivarcsi, Senior lecturer/Associate Professor, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology (IMBIM), Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala

Amount: DKK 4,164,300

Grant category: Research grants in open competition

Year: 2020

Geography: Sweden

The goal of this project is to investigate the potential role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs, RNA molecules, which do not function through coding for protein, but by regulating other genes) in the development of the most common form of skin cancer with metastatic potential – Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). Such RNAs are known to be key regulators of multiple cellular functions, tissue development and homeostasis, but their role in SCC is not clear. Andor Pivarcsi and his team have identified a group of long non-coding RNAs that have altered expression in this disease. As these lncRNAs may prove to be key players both in the development of cutaneous cancers and in the maintenance of normal skin homeostasis, they now want to investigate their function.

Andor Pivarcsi and his team will do so by defining the role and mechanism of action of selected lncRNAs by a combination of methods, including inhibiting them with anti-sense oligonucleotides, that will effectively prevent their association with natural binding partners. The results will improve our understanding of long non-coding RNAs in cutaneous malignancies and may pave the way towards improved antisense oligonucleotide-based skin cancer therapy.

Andor Pivarcsi is a former LEO Foundation Silver Award Winner (2010).

The LEO Foundation Award 2020 – Region EMEA

Grantee: Dr. Ning Xu Landén

Amount: USD 100,000

Grant category: LEO Foundation Awards

Year: 2020

Geography: Sweden

Ning Xu Landén is an Associate Professor in experimental dermatology and venereology at the Department of Medicine, Solna at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden where she leads a successful research group. She is the author of around 50 scientific articles with more than 3000 citations.

Ning Xu Landén receives the award in recognition of her high impact research in wound healing.

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Molecular body map of human skin: the key for understanding human skin diseases

Grantee: Maria Kasper, Principal Investigator, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm

Amount: DKK 3,949,807

Grant category: Research grants in open competition

Year: 2019

Geography: Sweden

Skin is the largest human organ and contains an intricate variety of cell types that assure tissue architecture and proper skin function, such as thermoregulation and hair growth.

An imbalance of cell types and/or molecular signalling often results in disease. Across the body, skin composition differs in thickness, hair growth, sebaceous and sweat gland density, microbiota exposure and disease susceptibility.

However, a molecular understanding of how cell types and genetic programs vary with skin regions, and molecular alterations in disease, is currently lacking.

Previously, my lab pioneered the use of single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) in mouse skin by generating a comprehensive molecular and spatial atlas of epithelial and mesenchymal cells during hair growth and rest (Joost et al. 2016; Joost et al. 2019). Building upon our expertise, we will molecularly dissect human skin, initially through a body map that spans various body sites of healthy donors, to identify cell types and sub types in human skin and also to investigate important cell type differences and alterations compared to mouse skin. Subsequently, the body map will be the foundation for molecular analyses of skin diseases, including immune-triggered psoriasis.

A carefully constructed and annotated human skin atlas, with spatial and molecular precision, would have enormous value for the scientific community and propel our molecular understanding of skin in health and disease.

The LEO Foundation Award 2017 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Maria Kasper

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Grant category: LEO Foundation Awards

Year: 2017

Geography: Sweden

The Gold Award went to Dr. Maria Kasper, presently leading a research group at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Receiving the phone call with the news of the LEO Foundation 2017 Gold award is one of these few unforgettable moments. My friends often call me “skin nerd” since I love everything about skin.  Thus, it’s such a happiness and great honour for me to receive this prestigious prize. I would like to express my deepest thank you to the LEO Foundation, the ESDR, and my lab members who make everyday’s work fun and colorful,” said Maria Kasper.

The LEO Foundation Award 2010 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. Andor Pivarcsi

Amount: DKK 500,000

Grant category: LEO Foundation Awards

Year: 2010

Geography: Sweden

Presented to Dr. Andor Pivarcsi, young dermatology researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden for his investigation of the role of microRNAs (miRNA) in skin disease.

Dr.Pivarsci’s work centres on miRNAs, a class of recently discovered small RNA molecules, shown to play a critical role in controlling genes behaviour. His research is expected to contribute significantly to our understanding of the pathological mechanisms in skin diseases, such as psoriasis and cancer.

The LEO Foundation Award 2008 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Lars Norlén

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Grant category: LEO Foundation Awards

Year: 2008

Geography: Sweden

Presented to Swedish researcher Lars Norlén. Norlén and his team develop new advanced biophysical measuring methods to describe the molecular structure of the skin barrier.

The frontline research of Lars Norlén will contribute to our fundamental understanding of how drugs impact and interact with their target proteins in connection with the treatment of diseases such as psoriasis. Dr. Norlén holds an MD from Karolinska Institutet, and is a group manager for biophysical dermatology at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. He has worked at universities in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, and co-authored more than 25 original articles and several book chapters.