23 October 2018

The European Research Council (ERC) has granted DKK 60 million for a new cross-disciplinary European research project in which the University of Copenhagen is represented. The participating Danish researchers will contribute with protein analysis and cooperate with researchers from Spain and Switzerland.

Photo: Simon Skipper

It is the first time since 2013 that the European Research Council (ERC) grants funding under the cross-disciplinary Synergy Grants. One of the large grants goes to researchers from the University of Copenhagen, among others.

The project receiving the grant of DKK 60 million is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between universities in Spain, Switzerland and Denmark. The researchers will be studying some of the receptors on the human cell.

‘We are four research groups that will be studying a family of receptors on the human cell which we generally refer to as the EGF receptor family. We use many different approaches and technologies that hopefully will learn us a lot about how these receptors work: how they receive transmitter substances, and what subsequently happens inside the cell’, says Professor Jesper Velgaard Olsen from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen.

More Effective Medicine
Today a lot of medicine used in hospitals already target EGF receptors. For example, breast cancer patients are scanned to determine whether their tumour contains the type of EGF receptor called HER2. Because if it does, the patient is given a different kind of treatment. Something similar also applies to other types of cancer.

’You might think that we know everything about this family of receptors, as we give medication against it, but we do not. At molecular level, for example, we are not quite sure why some medication for these receptors has one effect while other medication has a different effect. This is one of the important research questions we will be exploring in this project. It may pave the way for new medicine, just as we hope to be able to make existing medicine more effective’, says Jesper Velgaard Olsen.

In particular, the Danish researchers participating in the project will be studying how the proteins inside the cell behave when growth factors and hormones bind to the EGF receptors, and what subsequently happens to the receptors at molecular level using advanced mass spectrometry and cryo-electron microscopy.

The project will be launched in the spring of 2019 and is expected to run for four-five years.

 Read more in the press release from ERC.

Professor Jesper Velgaard Olsen
+45 35 32 50 22

Press Officer Mathias Traczyk
+45 93 56 58 35