Public Release: 

Roche pledges continued support for Organ Transplantation Research Foundation

Grants will continue to be awarded for innovation in transplantation research

Ketchum UK

Roche announces that it is pledging further funding for the Roche Organ Transplantation Research Foundation (ROTRF) until 2008. With an annual donation of over CHF 5 million, Roche is reinforcing a long-term commitment to transplantation research that aims to improve the lives of thousands of patients living with transplanted organs every year.

William M Burns, Head of Roche's Pharmaceuticals Division, said: "Roche is committed to exploring new research concepts that help to deliver the best possible care for people living with transplanted organs. Our decision to extend our financial support to the Foundation reflects Roche's continued commitment to the transplantation community and to innovation in scientific research. We are proud of our association with this pioneering Foundation."

Prof Phil Halloran, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: "Innovation holds the key to improving the lives of people living with an organ transplant. It is always a challenge to secure funding for scientific research and Roche's support means that ROTRF is able to continue to fund and develop cutting-edge research worldwide. Ultimately, this helps advance our knowledge in transplantation and save lives."

ROTRF is a not-for-profit research foundation, whose remit to support ground-breaking research projects attracts new researchers with innovative scientific ideas, who aim to tackle areas of unmet medical need in organ transplantation. The first grants of this year have been awarded to nine scientists from around the world including Australia, Canada, Germany, UK and USA. Exceptionally, in 2003, almost half of the 89 applicants for research grants were from Europe.

New grants in 2003 focus on the need to further our understanding of the processes underlying chronic and acute rejection, to improve long-term graft survival. The objective of transplantation immunology is to specifically inhibit the body's response to the graft while leaving the remaining immune defence system unaffected and so ensure long-term survival with minimum side effects.

Award-winning projects, newly funded by ROTRF in 2003, include research to understand the body's 'rejection response', including the role of lymphocytes, T cells and inflammation. Researchers in the UK investigating T cells hope that their project will show prevention of progression to chronic graft failure after initial acute rejection. In Germany and Canada investigators will employ advanced techniques, including genetically modifying cells, to suppress the activity of lymphocytes and 'trick' the immune system into seeing the graft as part of the transplant patient's body, therefore minimising the risk of rejection.

Roche in transplantation
Roche is strongly committed to improving the long-term outcomes of transplantation and enhancing the quality of life of transplant recipients. Roche has developed innovative therapies that improve graft and post-transplant health: Zenapax prevents the acute rejection of the newly transplanted organ, CellCept, the largest selling branded immunosuppressive in North America, offers both physicians and patients the possibility of an effective long term immunosuppressive regimen with low toxicity, and Valcyte, developed for the prevention and treatment of cytomegalovirus, a dangerous viral infection associated with transplantation. In addition, Roche supports basic research in transplantation with its funding of the independent Roche Organ Transplantation Research Fund (ROTRF), which directly supports innovative research projects attracting new researchers with innovative and novel scientific ideas to meet unmet medical needs in solid organ transplantation.

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is an innovation driven global healthcare leader focused on pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is worldwide number one in diagnostics, oncology and transplantation and has a leading position in virology. With products and services that address the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the company contributes broadly to the enhancement of people's health and quality of life. Roche employs some 65,000 people in more than 150 countries around the world. The company has business alliances and R&D relationships with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, which are both members of the Roche Group.

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For further information please contact:
Julia Pipe Roche International Communications Manager,Transplant
Mobile tel: +41 79 263 9715
Office tel: +41 61 687 4376
Email: julia.pipe@roche.com

Lisa Marriott
Ketchum Off tel: +44 20 7611 3691
Email: lisa.marriott@ketchum.com

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