The Merck Foundation and Feder are supporting research into new treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus.


Carmen Gonzalez Madrid, President of the Fundación Merck Salud highlights the foundation’s commitment to advancing new discoveries for the benefit of patients by calling on the Fundación Merck Salud and the FEDER Foundation for Clinical Research on Rare Diseases. Research plays a fundamental role in the treatment of rare diseases, as it contributes to a significant improvement in the quality of life of patients suffering from these pathologies. “We are pleased to know that we are opening a new path of hope for families living with rare diseases,” said Carmen González Madrid.

Juan CarriónPresident of FEDER and its Foundation, emphasizes that “only 20 percent of the existing rare diseases are being researched and that initiatives such as the Fundación Merck Salud-Fundación FEDER de Investigación Aid and, in particular, aimed at the research clinic for rare diseases, are a hope for families, who live today with one of these pathologies, and for those who will live the same way in the future.”

The Merck Salud Foundation and Fundación FEDER have awarded in the second Rare Diseases Clinical Research Competition 2023 the project “Development of cell therapy based on DNA mimetic peptides for the treatment of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus”, led by Dr. Laura Belver and his team from Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute. He systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a rare autoimmune disease (ORPHA:536) that has a wide range of manifestations and can affect various organs and systems such as the skin, joints, central nervous system or kidneys.

“One of the main problems in the treatment of autoimmune diseases is the lack of treatments that could specifically block the activity of B-lymphocytes that attack us, while not affecting the function of those who protect us. Current treatments for lupus reduce the activity of the entire immune system, which reduces the symptoms of the disease, but increases the risk of infection, ”says Dr. Belver. Likewise, “the aim of this project is to to develop a new therapy that allows to purposefully and exclusively eliminate pathogenic B-lymphocytes that cause damage to organs and tissues in patients with lupus. To do this, we will use chimeric T-lymphocyte receptor technology, which has already been successfully used to treat various types of hematological cancer,” emphasizes Dr. Belver.

“Initiatives like Help Merck Health Foundation – FEDER Research Foundation they make it easier to launch rare disease research projects and give hope and visibility to these patients who are usually overlooked,” says Dr. Belver.

The Merck Salud Foundation and its involvement in healthcare

Since 1991 Merck Health Foundation encouraged Merck Research Grants to fund biomedical projects carried out by groups of Spanish researchers. Its goal is to improve the quality of life of people with diseases or pathologies, to offer support to patients and healthcare professionals in diagnosis, monitoring and doctor-patient relationships. In addition to research grants, the foundation provides grants for education. for residents of “MIR” and the presentation of solidarity awards. The Merck Salud Foundation is funded by leading science and technology company Merck SLU and chaired by Carmen González Madrid for thirteen years.

XV Anniversary of the FEDER Foundation and Scientific Research

The collaboration between the two institutions is also part of the 15th anniversary of the FEDER Research Foundation, which was established to promote the development and improvement of the lives of people affected by rare diseases through promotion and support, in any of its forms, biomedical research programs and dissemination of all existing information about these diseases. Through this collaboration, the Fundación FEDER mainly contributes its expertise and resources to the dissemination of these research grants among the association movement, which is increasingly involved in the support of basic and translational science, as well as among the scientific community, of which Spain has a valuable representation.

Since then and to this day, the Fundación FEDER has focused its activities on three key goals:

» Dissemination and awareness of the importance of rare disease research.

» Supporting research projects through initiatives such as our Annual Grant Call.

» Promoting RH research through various synergies and alliances, and encouraging the participation and role of patients in the research process.

From this point of view, in its history, the FEDER Foundation has supported 29 rare disease research projects aimed at diagnosis and treatment as the most pressing needs of the group.

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