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AU research aims to improve the medical treatment of neurological diseases

Professor Bente Vilsen from Aarhus University is receiving support from the Lundbeck Foundation to investigate genetic modifications of the sodium-potassium pump. The research could be a step towards treating serious neurological diseases.

A defective sodium-potassium pump, which is the vitally important cell membrane pump, is the cause of serious neurological disorders such as rapid-onset dystonia parkinsonism and alternating hemiplegia of childhood. There is no effective medical treatment of these diseases, but recent research shows that a defective sodium-potassium pump can be repaired by genetic modification of the pump protein.

Professor, DMSc Bente Vilsen from the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University will now receive DKK 4.736 million from the Lundbeck Foundation to investigate the pump mechanism and the effect of a genetic modification.

Bente Vilsen describes the genetic modification of the pump protein as a 'rescue effect' that can be taken advantage of in the efforts to develop a more efficient medical treatment of the neurological diseases in question.

"The goal of the project is to understand the molecular mechanism that underlies the rescue effect. This is a significant progress towards developing medicine that can restore the normal function of the defective sodium-potassium pump, and thus cure the diseases," says Bente Vilsen. 

Anne-Marie Engel, director of research at the Lundbeck Foundation, is pleased to be able to support a research project like Bente Vilsen’s:

"The sodium-potassium pump has been the subject of many major research projects, not least in Denmark, over many years. We know that the pump is essential to maintaining the balance between  internal and external environments of the cells of the body. Bente Vilsen’s project helps provide us with even more knowledge about the pump itself and how it works. At the same time, it focuses on two genetic diseases of the brain that are at present untreatable, and which are due to mutations in the sodium-potassium pump, and on how we can work with the pump as a goal for treatment of two serious brain diseases. So the project is both an example of exciting and inspiring basic research and also of targeted translational research, which we are pleased to be able to support," says Anne-Marie Engel.

The grant to the project:"Understanding Na,K-ATPase molecular mechanism with a perspective for pharmaceutical targeting” runs for three years from March 2017. 



Professor Bente Vilsen
Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine 
Direct tel.: (+45) 8716 7736 
Mobile: (+45) 2382 2977
Email: bv@biomed.au.dk