Grifols Announces Winners of the 10th Annual eALTA Research Fellowship at 2013
BARCELONA, Spain, Sept. 9, 2013
- Awards fund early career investigators' research to advance understanding
and treatment of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency.
BARCELONA, Spain, Sept.9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Grifols, a global healthcare
companyspecializing in the production of biological therapies for rare
genetic diseases, today announced the recipients of the 2013 European Alpha [1
] Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Awards (eALTA). The annual awards, sponsored
exclusively by Grifols, provide two fellowships of €50,000 to young
investigators whose research contributes to the understanding and treatment of
alpha  -antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. AAT deficiency is a rare, genetic
condition in which low levels of the alpha  protein can result in the early
onset of emphysema and liver disease and can lead to disability and premature
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The 2013 recipients of eALTA are Dr. Michael Emmet O'Brien of the Royal
College of Surgeons in Ireland and Ms. Beata Poplawska of the National
Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases in Poland. Dr. O'Brien and Ms.
Poplawska were presented with the awards at the 2013 European Respiratory
Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona during the Grifols-sponsored
Dr. O'Brien's research project will explore defective neutrophil degranulation
in individuals with AAT deficiency. This transitional research aims to fully
characterize the anti-degranulation effect of alpha  antitrypsin AAT on the
circulating neutrophils. Dr. O'Brien hopes to demonstrate that the neutrophils
of AAT deficient individuals have disproportionate levels of activation,
resulting in an increase of proteolytic enzymes that have been implicated as a
major causative factor in pulmonary disorders that may present as severe
exacerbations. The potential ramifications of AAT as a modulator of neutrophil
degranulation provides a novel approach to the understanding of the role that
AAT plays in healthy and AAT deficient individuals.
Ms. Poplawska's research will focus on the inhibitory activity of AAT genetic
variants towards three related neutrophil serine proteinases: human neutrophil
elastase (HNE), proteinase 3 (PR3) and cathepsin G (CG). HNE has been studied
extensively in COPD and is generally well understood, but the role of PR3 and
CG in lung tissue destruction is not clear and perhaps underestimated. Ms.
Poplawska hopes to elucidate the effect that two common gene mutations, PiF
and PiZ, have on inhibiting these neutrophil serine proteinases (NSP). Ms.
Poplawska will also evaluate the concentration of both the NSPs and their
inhibitors compared to the 'normal' gene variant MM.
"Research initiatives such as eALTA help stimulate the interest and commitment
of early-career scientists and clinicians to provide the basis for new
therapies and treatment paradigms that ultimately benefit the alpha [1 ]
community," said Claus Vogelmeier, Professor of Internal and Respiratory
Medicine at the Hospital of the Universities of Giessen and Marburg, Germany,
and chair of the independent eALTA Review Team.
Grifols sponsors the eALTA awards to gain new insights into the epidemiology,
pathophysiology and clinical treatment of AAT deficiency and associated
disorders. Grifols is the global leader with augmentation therapies ^1 that
are used to treat alpha  -antitrypsin deficiency and its commitment to
research and continued support of early career scientists and clinicians is
exemplified through the 10 ^th anniversary of the eALTA research programs. To
date, eALTA has awarded research grants totaling €875,000.
Although AAT deficiency is better understood today, there are still new
discoveries being made, and the eALTA program is proud to support research in
this important area.
About eALTA The European Alpha [1 ] Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award
supports basic and clinical research through two annual grants provided to
early career investigators. The program is named in honor of Dr. Carl-Bertil
Laurell, who first described alpha  -antitrypsin deficiency in 1963. The
primary goal is to identify and support research projects that enhance the
understanding of disease mechanisms of AAD deficiency, improve existing
therapies, and identify potential new therapies. The eALTA program also
encourages the entry of new clinicians and scientists into the field of AAT
disorders and fosters collaborations among scientists in the field. For more
information, go to http://www.ealta.eu/ .
About Grifols Grifols is a global healthcare company with a 70-year legacy of
improving people's health and well-being through the development of
life-saving plasma medicines, hospital pharmacy products, and diagnostic
technology for clinical use.
As a leading producer of plasma medicines, Grifols has a presence in more than
100 countries and is the world leader in plasma collection, with 150 plasma
donation centres across the US. Grifols is committed to increasing patient
access to its life-saving plasma medicines through significant manufacturing
expansions and the development of new therapeutic applications of plasma
proteins. The company is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, and employs more
than 11,000 people worldwide.
In 2012, Grifols' sales exceeded 2,620 million euros. The company's class A
shares are listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange, where they form part of the
Ibex-35 (MCE:GRF). Its non-voting class B shares are listed on the Mercado
Continuo (MCE:GRF.P) and on the US NASDAQ via ADRs (NASDAQ: GRFS). For more
information visit www.grifols.com .
About Alpha  -Antitrypsin Deficiency Alpha  -antitrypsin deficiency,
also known as AAT deficiency or alpha  , is an inherited disorder that
causes a significant reduction in the naturally occurring protein, alpha 
-proteinase inhibitor. While rare, alpha  is the most common cause of
genetic emphysema in adults and the most common cause of liver disease in
children. Individuals suffering from alpha  often develop severe chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) leading to disability and premature
death. Alpha  is estimated to affect more than 100,000 people in Europe
alone, although greater than 90% of individuals remain undiagnosed.
1. MRB 2012 Data
Contact: Europe Media Contact / Grifols Global Press Office, Raquel Lumbreras,
email@example.com, or Borja Gomez,
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