INNOLFACT aims to assess olfactory function among the elderly and develop new nasal immunomodulator therapies to stop the progress of neurodegenerative disorders

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INNOLFACT aims to assess olfactory function among the elderly and develop new nasal immunomodulator therapies to stop the progress of neurodegenerative disorders

  • The Government of Navarre is funding the project to the tune of €1.7 million.

INNOLFACT is a multicenter initiative whose aim is to implement precision olfactory medicine and develop gender-based nasal immunomodulator therapies, particularly in the areas of aging and neurodegenerative disorders. The Government of Navarre’s Ministry of Economic and Business Development selected ten strategic R&D projects, one of which was INNOLFACT, which earned the highest score of all the candidates and was awarded total funding of €1.4 million for the 2020-2022 period.

A consortium was created to implement the project made up of the institutions involved. The team leader is the Navarrabiomed Clinical Neuroproteomics Unit under the direction of Enrique Santamaría Martínez, the principal investigator (PI) and unit head. The other consortium members include professionals from the Navarrabiomed Geriatrics Unit, the Hospital Complex of Navarre (CHN), ADItech, the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA), Clínica Universidad de Navarra and Ojer Pharma laboratories.

Research development

During the research phase, the institutions will focus on the characterization of the olfactory molecular mechanisms involved in the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and on jointly assessing the olfactory and immune systems in the aging process. Researchers expect the results to provide predictive biomarkers and, as a result, new nasal immunomodulator therapies that allow for intranasal drug administration instead of conventional intravenous therapy.

Enrique Santamaría, PI and head of the Clinical Neuroproteomics Unit, explained the project’s ambitious goals: “With INNOLFACT, we want to perform an in-depth characterization of the olfactory system-immune system-brain axis. The technological resources made available by consortium members will enable us to carry out an exhaustive molecular characterization of this axis in both humans and animal disease models, which will help us identify and characterize molecules with immunomodulating potential that can also be used for intranasal administration. This provides advantages when treating cerebral disorders that currently have no treatment.”

The consortium will also analyze the olfactory capacity of elderly people with the aim of determining if loss of smell may be a symptom of a weaker immune system and one that is therefore less able to fight neurodegenerative disorders. Work will also be done to offer self-diagnostic tests and specific training sessions designed to improve or stop olfactory deterioration and help strengthen the immune system.

Collaborating institutions

The INNOLFACT research project forms part of the scientific activity of the Navarre Health Research Institute (IdiSNA) with the support and collaboration of different institutions: the Spanish Olfactory Network (ROE), Association of Family Members of Alzheimer’s Patients in Navarre (AFAN), Navarre Association of Parkinson’s Patients (ANAPAR), Spanish Parkinson’s Disease Federation (FEP), Committee of Representatives of Disabled Persons in Navarre (CERMIN) and Federation of People with Physical and Organ-Related Disabilities (COCEMFE NAVARRA). Navarrabiomed also liaises with the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR), where more than 600 researchers from 50 countries participate.