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Europe: NattoPharma, partners receive €4M research grant

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NattoPharma’s International Research Network, coordinated by the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Maastricht University (CARIM), has been awarded a second prestigious grant funded by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie research and innovation program.

Beneficiary partners of the network are three research university departments in Europe (CARIM/MUMC+ Maastricht; Universitätsklinikum Aachen and Karolinska Institutet Stockholm).

The €4 million (US$4.32 million) grant is coordinated by University of Maastricht CARIM, MUMC+, and will train 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) focusing on vascular smooth muscle cell mediated microcalcification and the effect of vitamin K to hold or regress this process.

“INTRICARE (International Network for Training on Risks of vascular intimal Calcification And roads to Regression of cardiovascular disease) is a European joint doctorate (EJD) program shaped to address the urgent, unmet medical needs concerning vulnerable plaques,” says lead researcher Leon Schurgers at CARIM, and the main contact between NattoPharma and the university.

“It is guided by the academic and industrial demand for a new generation of entrepreneurial scientists, who have the skills, expertise and know-how to expedite our understanding of early atherosclerosis and translation thereof into concrete clinical interventions for prevention and therapy.”

INTRICARE is an interdisciplinary and international consortium involving four academic institutions (CARIM/MUMC+ Maastricht; Universitätsklinikum Aachen; Karolinska Institutet Stockholm and King’s College London) and nine small- and medium-sized enterprises, including NattoPharma.

The grant will fund 15 ESRs, who will engage in network-wide training events, public engagement activities, and international collaboration through secondments, at industrial or academic partner institutions within the EU.

Since 2004, NattoPharma has worked closely with the Maastricht University in documenting benefits of menaquinone-7, the company’s exclusive vitamin K2 branded as MenaQ7.

This grant will provide training in innovative therapeutic strategies that include MenaQ7, identifying selective targets for microvascular calcification, and its consequences for plaque stability, and provide subsequent strategies for prevention or amelioration of vulnerable plaque formation.