“INTRICARE is a European joint doctorate (EJD) program shaped to address the urgent, unmet medical needs concerning vulnerable plaques,” said lead researcher Leon Schurgers at CARIM, Maastricht University, and the main contact between NattoPharma and the University. “It is guided by the academic and industrial demand for a new generation of entrepreneurial scientists, who have the skills, expertise and know-how to expedite our understanding of early atherosclerosis and translation thereof into concrete clinical interventions for prevention and therapy.”
INTRICARE is an interdisciplinary and international consortium involving four leading academic institutions (CARIM/MUMC+ Maastricht; Universitätsklinikum Aachen; Karolinska Institutet Stockholm and King’s College London) and 9 SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises), including NattoPharma. The grant will fund 15 ESRs, which will engage in network-wide training events, public engagement activities, and international collaboration through secondments, at industrial or academic partner institutions within the EU. Six ESR’s will be hosted by CARIM, supervised by Leon Schurgers, Tilman Hackeng, Rory Koenen, Eline Kooi, Erik Biessen, and Thomas Unger. The INTRICARE network will be coordinated by Leon Schurgers, Tilman Hackeng, and Thomas Unger.
“Organized around three pillars—initiation of atherogenesis, vascular remodelling associated microcalcification, and imaging of microcalcification and vulnerable plaque formation—the consortium will join forces to address the aforementioned needs through training and research,” Dr. Schurgers continued.
Since 2004, NattoPharma has worked closely with the Maastricht University in documenting benefits of menaquinone-7, the company’s exclusive vitamin K2 branded as MenaQ7. This grant will provide training in innovative therapeutic strategies that include MenaQ7, identifying selective targets for microvascular calcification, and its consequences for plaque stability, and provide subsequent strategies for prevention or amelioration of vulnerable plaque formation.
“Horizon 2020 grants are the European equivalent to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant here in the United States,” said NattoPharma Chief Medical Officer Hogne Vik, adding that NattoPharma’s first priority has always been the documentation of MenaQ7’s biological effects on bone and vasculature.” “The assignment of this grant is an honor that further validates the importance of the work we have been doing with Maastricht University, and shines a light on the impact vitamin K2 can have on improving global health. We could not be more thrilled to have a third grant awarded to our partner for further study of MenaQ7.”