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ERC funding for bone marrow fibrosis

Rebekka Schneider, research physician at Erasmus MC's department of Hematology, has received a €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for her research project on bone marrow fibrosis entitled 'deFIBER' .

More insight
onderzoeksteam Primaire myelofibroseBone marrow fibrosis (BMF) is the continuous replacement of blood forming cells in the bone marrow by excessive scar tissue, leading to failure of the body to produce blood cells, and ultimately to death.

Primary myelofibrosis (PMF), an incurable blood cancer, is a perfect example of the step-wise development of BMF. Schneider will use the ERC grant to get more insight into the onset and course of BM fibrosis, to improve diagnostics for PMF, and to find new treatments for the disease. 

Schneider: "We will specifically look for novel markers to identify the first phase of PMF, which would enable earlier diagnosis. This is very important in PMF because the first phase of the disease shows no fibrosis. Once fibrosis has occurred it is non-reversible."

Promising results
The ERC project is of special significance to Schneider. "When I started as a Fellow in Pathology nine years ago, I was already frustrated by the fact that bone marrow fibrosis was not well understood. I tried to find markers to identify early stages of the disease, but the cells driving bone marrow fibrosis remained obscure."

During her post-doc in Boston, USA, Schneider started a side project, and obtained the first promising results. More experiments followed after her return to Aachen, Germany, and finally in Rotterdam - where she started in September 2016 - she and her team identified Gli1+ cells as the fibrosis-driving cells in bone marrow fibrosis.

Schneider: "I hope that the ERC grant will help to disentangle the mechanisms of the fibrotic transformation and subsequently 'deFIBER' the bone marrow in bone marrow fibrosis."

Date published: 7 September 2017.

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