Bilkent University is a beneficiary of the Halt-RONIN grant, an EU Horizon project funded with over 6 million euros. Fifteen European institutions and three UK partners participate in this project, which is coordinated by Prof. Javier Cubero (Complutense University of Madrid). The project is based on the identification of biomarkers for the early detection of chronic inflammation in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) that may advance to liver cirrhosis, liver failure or hepatocellular cancer.
Assoc. Prof. Özlen Konu from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics will lead the research conducted at Bilkent University for Halt-RONIN, with contributions from Assoc. Prof. Can Alkan of the Department of Computer Engineering and from a team of graduate and post-graduate researchers.
The Bilkent Halt-RONIN team will contribute to the project by
1) developing novel preclinical zebrafish models to test the role of genetics and diet in the onset and progression of inflammation in NASH;
2) applying omics technologies and systems biology approaches to profile the molecular changes in the transition from fatty liver to NASH in the zebrafish models; and
3) collaborating with partners from Halt-RONIN for comparisons within and across species in finding biomarkers for the early detection of NASH.
Halt-RONIN will last for four years and is expected to generate strong international scientific ties with significant translational output to improve the diagnosis and treatment of chronic liver diseases. These conditions are associated with considerable health and financial burdens worldwide.
Project name: Discovering chronic inflammation biomarkers that define key stages in the Healthy-to-NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) transition to inform early prevention and treatment strategies.