University of Tartu researchers aim for medical breakthrough with international research grant

UT medical researchers, under the lead of Professor Sulev Kõks, received 700,000 pounds of funding to study the rare Wolfram syndrome. The research group has worked on this for already 13 years. Researchers believe that the funding provides an opportunity for an applicable breakthrough, which would be a ray of hope for the so far untreatable disease.

UT Professor of Pathophysiology Sulev Kõks said that receiving the research grant is an important recognition for the University of Tartu and his laboratory’s most long-term work so far which has been studied for already 13 years.

The research grant received in cooperation with British researchers supports translational medicine research in drug development. More specifically, UT researchers study a rare disorder, Wolfram syndrome. According to Kõks, this project is a ray of hope for families with children who have Wolfram syndrome because, so far, this disease is incurable.

Wolfram syndrome is caused by a dysfunction in the wolframin gene which causes mental disorders and diabetes. It is estimated that up to 25% of the population may have a fault in this gene. People who have the syndrome are patients who develop two types of diabetes, loss of vision and deafness simultaneously.

“Our job is to conduct preclinical drug trials with one drug candidate. We have developed a model of Wolfram syndrome in our lab which we use in this project,” said Kõks and added that the funding provides an opportunity for an applicable breakthrough.

“The aim of modelling Wolfram syndrome was the fundamental research of the function of one gene. The received data enabled to assume a possible treatment strategy to this very tragic syndrome. Our research received the necessary attention and together with international partners and funding it is possible to achieve a new level in this field of research,” said Kõks.

The research grant for developing a cure for Wolfram syndrome was awarded by the international Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS).

Addditional information:
Sulev Kõks, UT Professor of Pathophysiology
+372 7374371, + 372 5263530
sulev.koks@ut.ee

Virge Tamme Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5815 5392 E-mail: virge.tamme@ut.ee
www.ut.ee