10 August 2020

Innovation ambassadors will stimulate entrepreneurship


Andreas Kjær and Mette Rosenkilde from the Department of Biomedical Sciences are two of five excellent researchers who have received a Novo Nordisk Foundation Distinguished Innovator grant to explore the commercial potential of a research discovery.

The purpose of these grants is to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship within academia and thus ensure that research ends up benefitting both patients and society.

It is the firm time the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded these grants. Each researcher receives DKK 6 million each over a 3-year period.

The first five recipients of the grants are:

  • Andreas Kjær, Professor, Rigshospitalet and University of Copenhagen
  • Claus Elsborg Olesen, Senior Researcher, Aarhus University
  • Mette Rosenkilde, Professor, University of Copenhagen
  • Zachary Gerhart-Hines, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen
  • Martin Jakobsen, Associate Professor, Aarhus University

Both Andreas Kjær and Mette Rosenkilde are part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Read more about their projects below.

Andreas Kjær

Project title: uPAR-targeted Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT): a Game-changer

Project description: Precise and optimized treatment of the individual patient is the future paradigm in cancer care. A technique well suited for this is targeted peptide receptor radionuclide therapy. This therapy makes use of radionuclides that are targeted to only affect cancer cells and thereby spare healthy tissue. This enables treatment of both the primary cancer and the possible spread of the disease, and it has few side-effects. The target in focus is called urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor and is expressed by aggressive tumour cells. The new therapy is initially being developed for patients with aggressive brain tumours (glioblastomas) and patients with aggressive neuroendocrine tumours, since both these patient groups experience low survival rates and have few treatment options. However, as the target is expressed across various types of cancer, we intend to later expand the use to include patients with other types of cancer.

Mette Rosenkilde

Project Title: Turning Virus Survival and Defence Mechanisms into Offensive Antiviral Therapy

Project description: Viruses are dangerous because of rapid spreading, lack of medication and lack of immunity, as illustrated by the recent COVID-19 outbreak. This innovative project focuses on novel antiviral principles that interfere with the way viruses use G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs). These receptors are widely used drug targets, with about 40% of all drugs acting on them. Viruses have found ways to manipulate the host to hide from the immune system and spread in the body and to other hosts by taking advantage of host-encoded receptors or receptors incorporated in the virus genome. Our project is based on strong preliminary data and seeks to explore the commercialization potential of interfering with how viruses use these receptors. Our strategy is to directly target the receptors encoded by the virus or to prevent the interaction between virus-encoded ligands and their corresponding host-encoded receptors. As many viruses encode GPCRs or use host-encoded GPCRs, we intend to expand these antiviral principles to a variety of viruses in the future.


Read more about the grants and the additional recipients in the Novo Nordisk Foundation news article