Lundbeck Foundation provides funding for research in new ways to combat strokes

Lundbeck Foundation has granted DKK 10 million to a ground-breaking research project aimed at identifying new types of medicine for strokes.

The first of the six 2015 Lundbeck Foundation Fellows has just been announced: Assistant Professor Anders Bach is 36 years of age and completed his PhD in 2009. Anders Bach will receive DKK 10 million from Lundbeck Foundation to establish his own research team at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen. Over the next five years, he will have the opportunity to conduct a dedicated search for completely new drugs to relieve the damaging effects of strokes.

We need new medicines
“We need to develop new types of medicine”, says Anders Bach who, due to this appointment as a Lundbeck Foundation Fellow and the accompanying DKK 10 million, will be able to head his own research team.

In the event of a stroke, the affected part of the brain does not receive sufficient oxygen and sugar. This triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions which are difficult to stop and results in the destruction of whole areas of the brain. Anders Bach's new approach is to identify drugs which can act as chemical handbrakes and block this destructive cascade. The plan is to screen several thousand drugs – so-called fragments that are smaller than normal drugs – using completely new methods and then to optimise these to form biologically active molecules. As a Lundbeck Foundation Fellow, Anders Bach will have the opportunity to focus conduct his research without distractions for five years, and he and his team will be able to dedicate themselves fully to the project.

Courage to break new ground
“I'm incredibly happy to have been given the opportunity to try out new approaches. We need a new approach to the development of medicines for the treatment of strokes”, he says.

Anders Bach has been preparing for the project for several years. He regards the Lundbeck Foundation grant as more than mere research funding.

“The fact that one of Denmark's largest foundation's has chosen to support my research project is a great recognition and a pat on the back. Their grant shows that they believe in the new approach I wish to take.”

“This is a talented and promising young researcher in medicinal chemistry. He has a remarkable track record”, says Anne-Marie Engel, director of research at Lundbeck Foundation. She has great expectations for newly appointed Fellow Anders Bach. “We see great potential in his research. His research project is well planned and he has a strong international network which I am convinced will make a positive contribution to the project”.

Anders Bach will now start the recruitment process for two postdocs and a PhD for the project.

“Of course, there are no guarantees when you adopt a new approach to develop new forms of treatment. We won't be developing the medicine ourselves, but I hope that, in five years, companies will be able to make use of my research team's results to develop medicine. There's a need for it and it will benefit a lot of people”, says Anders Bach.

About the Lundbeck Foundation Fellowship Programme
With its Fellowship Programme, Lundbeck Foundation aims to provide particularly promising scientists with a unique opportunity to conduct focused and dedicated research for a period of five years. Each Fellow receives a research grant for DKK 10 million. The fellowships are awarded to young scientists who have obtained a PhD within the past five to seven years and are qualified to establish or develop their own biomedical research teams at Danish universities or university hospitals.

Facts about strokes
In Denmark, approximately 12,500 people a year suffer a stroke.  Many of those who survive are permanently disabled. They may lose their mobility or their speech may be impaired. In principle, there is only one type of treatment for a stroke, thrombolysis. The medicine dissolves the blood clot in the brain but, unfortunately, there is no medicine that can correct the damage that has already occurred due to a lack of oxygen and sugar. Therefore, strokes have massive consequences for a great many people.

For additional information:
Regitze Reeh, Director of Communications, tel.: +45 30546608, e-mail: rr@lundbeckfonden.com
Anders Bach, tel.: +45 21288604, e-mail: anders.bach@sund.ku.dk



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