ERC Proof of Concept Grant for prof. Harald Schmidt

Professor Harald Schmidt received an ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) grant to develop a new medication for stroke and other acute neurodegenerative conditions. In 2011, Schmidt received an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant worth 2.3 million euros for his research on the role of oxidative stress in the development of cardiovascular disease. This study led to the development of a potential new therapy for stroke patients. The 150,000 euro ERC PoC grant will allow Schmidt to optimise his treatment method (chose the optimal compounds), carry out preclinical trials and work out a business plan for the commercial production of the drug, to provide PoC for a first-in-man trial in stroke.

Stroke (the collective name for cerebral haemorrhage and cerebral infarctions) is the second leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability. Currently, there is only one drug available – an anticoagulant; however, this drug is marginally effective and has over thirty contraindications and a high risk of fatal bleeding. As a result, 85% of stroke patients are not treated with this drug. The needed innovation would be a drug which is broadly applicable, i.e. has no contraindication, can be given in all forms of stroke and already in the ambulance, bears no risk to cause secondary bleeding, is effective (i.e. reduces the brain infarct, increases survival and improves neurological outcomes for patients) and  has a different mechanism of action (i.e. directly neuroprotective). Schmidt discovered a new therapeutic principle that fulfils the above requirements as part of his ERC Advanced Investigator Grant. This involves a combined therapy that targets three different points of the disease mechanism, thereby increasing the chance of clinical success.

The PoC research project, titled 'SAVEBRAIN: proof of principle for a first-in-class neuroprotective therapy in stroke and other acute neurodegenerative conditions', is being carried out in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung (Lübeck).

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