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Michele De Luca wins an ERC Advanced Grant

Modena, 23 April 2021 – The European Research Council (ERC) yesterday announced the winners of the 2020 Advanced Grants. The grants, worth a total of €507 million, will support 209 researchers across Europe. Eight projects were won by researchers working in Italy, including the project presented by Michele De Luca, Director of the “Stefano Ferrari” Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Unimore) and co-founder and Scientific Director of Holostem Terapie Avanzate.

I am indeed very happy and proud to share the wonderful news of Prof. Michele De Luca winning an ERC Advanced Grant” comments Marco Dieci, CEO of Holostem Terapie Avanzate. “He is one of the founders of the company and a member of the Board of Directors, but above all he is our Scientific Director. The milestone he has reached today is the recognition of the deep commitment with which he has pursued his lines of research over the years, stimulating the birth of revolutionary ideas in the field of regenerative medicine. As a company we are proud to offer our know-how to enable the realisation of a valuable project. Together with the University of Modena, the science on which Holostem is founded has also won”.

Prof. Michele De Luca – leading expert on stem cells and gene therapy and known worldwide for having saved the life of a “butterfly baby” in 2017 thanks to genetically modified epidermal grafts developed by academic research and manufactured by Holostem – brought to  Unimore an investment of almost €2.5 million, which will allow innovative research to be carried out in the field of gene therapy applied to genetic diseases affecting the epithelia. The ‘Holo-GT’ project, in fact, is a revolutionary approach that combines epidermal stem cell reprogramming technologies and innovative techniques to overcome the limitations that currently exist in genomic editing.

“The project is aimed at producing a new genetically modified epidermis entirely ‘built’ in the lab” – explains Michele De Luca“and aims to tackle genetic skin and epithelial diseases, such as dominant forms of epidermolysis bullosa or dominant genetic diseases affecting other squamous epithelia, all of which cannot yet be challenged by currently available technologies”.

Established in 2007, the European Research Council (ERC) supports European scientific research with various types of grants to meet the global challenges of today and tomorrow. Advanced Grants are the most ambitious form of European funding because of both the prestige of these grants in the scientific arena and the extreme difficulty in winning them. Applications have increased over the years, leading to 2678 projects submitted in all fields of research in the last ERC call under Horizon 2020, but only the 8% of applicants were successful.

“The Advanced Grants are a very prestigious and sought-after form of long-term research funding,” adds Prof. Carlo Adolfo Porro, Rector of Unimore. “Only established researchers with a solid scientific record can participate to these calls, presenting innovative and, in some ways, visionary projects: this is the case of Prof. Michele De Luca, who heads one of the most important international research centres on regenerative medicine since years. This successful experience, thanks also to the support of the Unimore Research Department, has enabled our University to win one of the three projects won by Italy in the field of Life Sciences”.

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