A consortium co-led by the University of Helsinki awarded 2 million euros for research of severe paediatric SIRS

The research can help improve the investigation of root causes, tailored treatments and prognosis of severe paediatric SIRS.

An international consortium co-led by the University of Helsinki has been awarded a grant of total 2 million euros for developing personalized medicine for improved understanding of related pathogenesis to improve management of SIRS (the systemic inflammatory response syndrome) in critically ill paediatric patients. The amount of the ERA PerMed grant for the University of Helsinki is 450 000 euros.

At the University of Helsinki, the consortium is led by Academy Research Fellow Markku Varjosalo, Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE. The project is called TIPS (Tailored Immunotherapy for Paediatric SIRS). The project starts in January 2021 and will last 36 months. Researchers from Germany, Luxembourg and Turkey also participate in the consortium.

Diagnostic tools to guide targeted treatment

The systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) mimics or is caused by infectious sepsis. Severe SIRS is characterized by sudden dysfunction of multiple organ systems (e.g. disorientation, excessive coagulation, acute kidney failure). Even with prompt recognition of an underlying disease, mortality rates of 7-25% are seen.

Presently, we lack targeted therapy for SIRS. Its triggers may vary or remain unknown. Frequently, emergency treatment decisions are made blindly, without knowledge on the underlying pathology or trigger. Despite reports of widespread changes in gene transcription (transcriptomics), as well as quantitative and qualitative changes in proteins (proteomics), systematic omics studies are still lacking in SIRS.

RNA expression and proteomic profiles into development of treatments

As partners in TIPS and in the absence of readily available diagnostic tools to guide targeted treatment for paediatric SIRS patients, the researchers at the University of Helsinki and HUS have set the goal of defining omics-generated personalised immune profiles to guide diagnostics and to aid development of patient-tailored therapies and in the long-term improved outcome.

“Investigation of root causes, tailored treatments and prognosis of severe paediatric SIRS may improve if collective characterization and quantification omics are utilized,” Markku Varjosalo says.

ERA PerMed is a new ERA-Net Cofund, supported by 32 partners from 23 countries and cofunded by the European Commission. To align national research strategies, promote excellence, reinforce the competitiveness of European players in PM, and enhance the European collaboration with non-EU countries, national funding organisations have agreed to launch Joint Transnational Calls for collaborative innovative research projects in Personalised Medicine (PM).