VIENNA, Sept. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Grifols, a global healthcare company that specializes in the production of biological medicines derived from human plasma, announced today the recipients of the 2012 European Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Awards (eALTA). The annual awards, sponsored by Grifols, provide two fellowships of €50,000 to young investigators whose research contributes to the understanding and treatment of alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency). AAT deficiency is a rare, genetic condition in which low levels of the alpha 1 protein can result in severe lung and liver disease.
The 2012 recipients of eALTA are Emily Fiona Arielle van 't Wout of Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands and Riccardo Ronzoni of the University of Brescia in Italy. Van 't Wout and Ronzoni were presented with the awards Sunday, Sept. 2 at the 2012 European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Vienna during the Grifols-sponsored symposium.
Van 't Wout's research project will explore the production and accumulation in lung cells of the Z-AAT protein – a mutated form of the AAT protein which gives rise to lung and liver damage. Van 't Wout will also study whether cigarette smoke can promote the accumulation of Z-AAT polymers in lung cells, thereby contributing to lung cell damage.Ronzoni's research project will investigate rare AAT mutations in hepatocytes, or liver cells, that cause lung damage through mechanisms that are different from those of the more common Z-ATT mutation. His project will also explore strategies that may interfere with these mechanisms. "Research initiatives such as eALTA not only increase our understanding of the disease and its treatments, but they also help stimulate the interest and commitment of early- career scientists and clinicians who represent the future of research and new treatments for 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 has sponsored the eALTA awards since 2004 to gain new insights into the epidemiology, pathophysiology and clinical treatment of AAT deficiency and associated disorders. As the manufacturer of PROLASTIN and PROLASTIN ®-C (Alpha 1-Proteinase Inhibitor [Human]) to treat AAT deficiency, Grifols demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the alpha 1 community through eALTA and other research programs. To date, Grifols has provided more than €850,000 through the eALTA program. About eALTAThe 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 1-antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency) in 1963. The primary goal of the eALTA program is to identify and support research projects that enhance the understanding of disease mechanisms of AAT deficiency, improve existing therapies, and identify potential new therapies. The eALTA program also promotes the entry of new clinicians and scientists into the field of AAT disorders and encourages collaborations among scientists in the field. For more information, go to http://www.eALTA.eu/. About GrifolsGrifols is a global healthcare company that produces plasma-derived therapies and manufactures hospital pharmacy products, intravenous solutions, diagnostic tools and medical devices. As the third largest global producer of plasma therapies, Grifols has a presence in more than 90 countries and is the world leader in plasma collection, with 147 plasma donation centers across the U.S. The centers collect protein-rich plasma, which is then tested and manufactured into life-saving medicines for patients with rare conditions such as bleeding disorders, immune deficiencies and genetic emphysema. The company's class A shares have been listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange (MCE:GRF) since 2006 and have been part of the Ibex-35 since 2008. In 2011, the company listed non-voting class B shares on the Mercado Continuo (MCE:GRF.P) and on the U.S. NASDAQ via ADRs (NASDAQ: GRFS). About PROLASTIN®-CPROLASTIN-C is indicated for chronic augmentation and maintenance therapy in adults with emphysema due to deficiency of alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor (AAT deficiency). AAT deficiency is a genetic condition in which low levels of the alpha 1-protein can result in emphysema. The active protein in PROLASTIN-C increases or "augments" protein levels in AAT deficient patients. PROLASTIN-C has replaced PROLASTIN in the US and Canada. Important Safety Information for PROLASTIN-C and PROLASTINPROLASTIN and PROLASTIN-C, Alpha1-Proteinase Inhibitor (Human), are indicated for chronic augmentation and maintenance therapy in adults with emphysema due to deficiency of alpha-1 PI (alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency). The effect of augmentation therapy with any alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor (alpha 1-PI) on pulmonary exacerbations and on the progression of emphysema in alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency has not been demonstrated in randomized, controlled clinical trials. PROLASTIN and PROLASTIN-C may contain trace amounts of IgA. Patients with known antibodies to IgA, which can be present in patients with selective or severe IgA deficiency, have a greater risk of developing potentially severe hypersensitivity and anaphylactic reactions. Both PROLASTIN and PROLASTIN-C are contraindicated in patients with antibodies against IgA.
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