Doctoral student Elina Nummenmaa from the Immunopharmacology Research Group at the University of Tampere received the 2017 Young Investigator Award at the World Congress on Inflammation in London.
“I was not expecting the award. It feels really great to receive international recognition especially as a young researcher,” Nummenmaa says.
At the congress, Nummenmaa gave a presentation on her doctoral study, which introduces a completely new disease mechanism and a new potential drug target for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Her research is focused on the TRPA1 ion channel, which has previously been associated with pain sensation, but has recently also been found to have a role in arthritis and the degradation of cartilage. Nummenmaa’s study discovered the first drugs that prevent the production of the detrimental TRPA1 in the chondrocytes of patients with osteoarthritis. These findings are significant because inhibiting the production of TRPA1 in the joints could prevent pain, inflammation and cartilage degradation associated with osteoarthritis.
In 2016, a study, which forms one part of her thesis, already brought Nummenmaa recognition and the Medcare Foundation’s Heikki Isomäki Prize for the best abstract sent to the annual meeting of the Finnish Society for Rheumatology.
Nummenmaa will be putting the final additions to her thesis next year after which she plans to continue her research abroad.
“Studies abroad are important for my future career. After a postdoc period I could think about continuing research in Finland,” Nummenmaa says.
Text: Jaakko Kinnunen