New IMI project REsolution focuses on solute carriers, a large family of proteins that is not well studied despite being implicated in a number of diseases
Transport proteins act as our cells’ gate-keepers, controlling the flow of nutrients and other molecules (including drugs) into and out of the cell. With over 400 members, solute carriers (SLCs) are the largest group of transport proteins. Yet although they have been implicated in a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and schizophrenia to name just a few, SLCs have not been studied in detail.
The IMI project RESOLUTE, which started in 2018, is working hard to change that, and has already delivered a wealth of open access tools, knowledge and resources on the biology and biochemistry of SLCs that will make it easier to identify SLCs that are involved in specific diseases.
Now a new project, dubbed REsolution (‘Add medical genetic solutions to RESOLUTE’) is set to build on the work of RESOLUTE by adding genetics to the equation. Put simply, like all proteins, SLCs are created based on instructions encoded in our genes. Variations in these genes can result in variations in how the SLCs work, and this could explain why (for example) some people’s cells take up certain molecules more easily than others.
REsolution aims to gather existing data, and generate new knowledge on genetic variation in SLCs. Together with the information gathered by RESOLUTE, this will form a valuable resource that could help researchers to identify the SLCs (and their genetic variants) that are most clearly involved in diseases. This could in turn contribute to the development of new drugs to treat these diseases.
‘In the last decade, the amount of data on human genetic variations has skyrocketed,” says REsolution academic coordinator Giulio Superti-Furga from the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. ‘The REsolution initiative offers the chance of interpreting what these variations mean in terms of transporter functions and our individual ability to access molecules from the environment. It should create a large impact on medical and, particularly, pharmacological research.’
‘REsolution is the natural evolution of our collective work to advance a more holistic view of the SLC protein family,’ adds Claire Steppan, the EFPIA project lead from Pfizer. ‘Through the development of this rich dataset, we hope to enhance the broader scientific community’s understanding of SLCs and ultimately accelerate the development of promising therapeutics for patients in need.’
REsolution will run for two years and has a total budget of EUR 2 million, half of which comes from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, and half of which comes from in-kind contributions of the EFPIA partners in the project.
Visit the REsolution web page
Read the CeMM press release on the start of REsolution