Scientific background

An increasing number of European citizens suffer from debilitating chronic and degenerative diseases. They occur mainly in elderly people but their incidence is on the rise in part due to the aging population of the continent. The growing European biotech industry has shown an increasing interest in new scientific evidence which will allow them to develop new technologies and small molecules tackling these diseases.

Only recently, the biotech industry and other stakeholders have given particular attention to Hedgehog-Gli signalling, which is considered to be one of the most promising cellular communication pathways for regenerative medicine (reviewed in Ruiz i Altaba, 2006). Hedgehog is the name given to the gene and its protein product that act intercellularly to induce changes in responding cells by moduating the activity of the transcription factors of the Gli family.

In order to exploit the huge potential of Hh-Gli signalling, combined biological, chemical and business expertise is required to tackle the problem of developing new drugs that modulate this pathway. The HEALING network will train 13 early stage researchers (ESRs) and 4 experienced researchers (ERs) in Hh-Gli signalling, stem cells and small molecule drug development. Thus it will bridge this gap and provide these high potentials the required knowledge to tackle the promise of controlled modulation of Hh-Gli signalling as a novel therapeutic route to improve regeneration of tissues and improve healing.