One out of 10 000 children all over the world is born with the rare metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU), also called “Føllings sykdom” in Norwegian. PKU is an inborn error of metabolism that results in decreased metabolism of the amino acid phenylalanine.
There is no cure for the disease, and it is usually treated with a strict, lifelong diet. If the disease stays untreated, it might lead to severe physical and psychological disability, including seizures, behavioural problems and mental disorders. At least 500.000 people in the world are living with PKU.
Professor Aurora Martinez and her research team at University of Bergen have for several years worked on finding a treatment against PKU by correcting effects in the enzyme. The treatment they are developing can improve the patient’s life quality considerably, and they believe they can help at least 50% of the patients.
In total, 160 applications competed for 483 million in funding from the BIA-program this year. Forty-six of these will receive funding from the program.
One of them is Pluvia, who will receive 13 million NOK over three years. The project did also receive funding through the FORNY2020-program at the Research Council of Norway in 2015.
– The funding from BIA is an excellent opportunity for the company to continue its activities. FORNY has set the foundations of the project and the company. The BIA program will help the company to grow and intensify its activities, says Anne-Sophie Schillinger, Business Developer in BTO.
A better life for people with rare diseases
BTO established the company Pluvia in cooperation with the research team and University of Bergen in 2015.
– The grant from the Research Council of Norway is very welcome, and a great recognition of the scientific platform and the great scientists running it at University of Bergen. It also supports the strong belief the investor community have showed in Pluvia and its pipeline, says Anders Haugland, Managing Director of BTO.
– BTO look forward to continue to contribute to the development together with Pluvia, the researchers and the many supporters of the project. Our aim is that yet another project from the research institutions in Bergen will help making life better for those with rare diseases, and contribute to solve specific societal challenges, Haugland continues.
User-driven research based innovation (BIA)
BIA is one of the largest program in the Research Council of Norway, and it aims to be an important partner for the industry. Companies may apply for partial funding of R&D projects based on their own strategies and challenges, regardless of branch of industry or thematic area. The projects must result in substantial value creation for the companies as well as for society-at-large, and must take an international perspective.