Faculty of Medicine

13 million NOK for research towards phenylkentonuria

Aurora Martinez’ Pluvia receives NOK 13 million from the Norwegian Research Council for research on a cure for phenylkentonuria

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Today, all newborn children in Norway are tested for phenylkentonuria, a rare but severe disease if left untreated.

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Today, all newborns in Norway are screened for phenylketonuria, a metabolic disease that can be very serious if it is not detected and treated. The only treatment for around half a million patients worldwide is to keep a strict diet.

Phenylketonuria is caused by the lack of a specific enzyme in the liver, phenylalanine hydroxylase. This enzyme converts phenylalanine to tyrosine, and when the enzyme is missing, the amount of phenylalanine will increase in the blood to damage the brain and nervous system.

Professor Aurora Martinez and her research group at the Department of Biomedicine have been investigating the possibility of correcting the enzyme deficiency for several years. This can significantly improve the quality of life of those who have the disease. Bergen technology transfer (BTO) explain on their website that at least 50% of patients may get help from the medicine that the company is developing.

The 13 million they receive is part of the Research Council of Norway's (RCN) program "User-driven research-based innovation" (BIA)

In 2015, the company also received support from the RCN FORNY2020 program:

- FORNY set the foundation for the project and the company, and the support from the BIA program will help the company grow and intensify its activity. This is an excellent opportunity, says Anne Sophie Schillinger, Business Developer in Bergen Technology Transfer.

Pluvia has been established in a collaboration between BTO and the research group at the University of Bergen.