DRUGtrain explores drug repurposing to find treatment for ADPKD


With funding from Horizon 2020, European consortium DRUGtrain is exploring if available drug molecules also have a therapeutic effect against the currently incurable kidney disease ADPKD. "Our goal is to identify how existing drugs will work against ADPKD and thereby contribute to new treatment options," says Alina Meyer, PhD student at Uppsala University.

Alina Meyer, PhD student at  the Department of Pharmacy
Alina Meyer, PhD student at the Department of Pharmacy

Finding new therapeutic areas for existing drugs, drug repurposing, is considered to be of increasing medical importance. A recent study shows in an analysis of a number of drugs that these can be used, on average, against eleven times more diseases than intended, but the road to healthcare still requires a lot of work. In the European project DRUGtrain, a number of researchers collaborate to try the potential of available drug molecules against Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). One of them is Alina Meyer, PhD student at Uppsala University's Department of Pharmacy.

“Drug repurposing is opening vast opportunities and experienced something of a public breakthrough during the corona pandemic. As a PhD student, I am attracted to its close-to-patient perspective and the opportunity to make valuable contributions to healthcare. The fact that DRUGtrain also provides the opportunity to operate in an international context of course adds an extra dimension to my project,” says Alina Meyer.

ADPKD, or Kidney cysts, occur when a number of fluid-filled cysts form in the kidneys. The disease is hereditary and very common - estimated to affect at least one in 3000 people in Sweden as well as globally. With no curative treatments in sight, researchers at the University of Leiden have presented a line of drug molecules that are assessed to have potential effect also against ADPKD. With funding from Horizon 2020, the research environments in DRUGtrain will now try out the most suitable candidate to proceed with.

DRUGtrain-meeting in Leiden
DRUGtrain-meeting in Leiden

“The consortium, uniting six universities, four companies and an patient organization, will – by laying the foundation for a treatment against ADPKD – hopefully also contribute to improve drug repurposing and to the development of strategies of compounds. The selected molecules will be tested in nine PhD projects around Europe, and with access to Uppsala University's Lab and Per Artursson's frontline expertise and infrastructure within proteomics, bioinformatics and high-resolution mass spectrometry, I look forward to starting our operational work,” says Alina Meyer.

DRUGtrain is also a Marie Skłodowska-Curie investment in training a new generation of multidisciplinary researchers in biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences. The structure contains six meeting places, hosted by the consortium partners, where the PhD student will gather for two days of courses and networking. Earlier this year they teamed up at the University of Leiden. In April 2023, the PhD students will meet again, this time at the Janssen Pharmaceuticals site in Beerse, Belgium.

“Between our international gatherings, we stay in continuous contact online, for example in the form of a Journal Club and a joint blog. As a PhD student in DRUGtrain, we will also conduct three internships around Europe, and well aware that I am facing some very intensive years, I already know that my doctoral time will be an extremely valuable experience,” states Alina Meyer.


  • DRUGtrain is a European consortium and a Marie Curie-Skldowska doctoral network, receiving principal funding from Horizon 2020 (EU's research and innovation funding programme)
  • In the DRUGtrain consortium, nine PhD students, among them Alina Meyer at Uppsala University, are analyzing the potential of selected drug molecules for future treatment of Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD).
  • Integrated into the research program are six forums, hosted by the consortium's partner organisations, where the PhD students gather for networking and interdisciplinary courses.



Alina Meyer, PhD Student
Department of Pharmacy

Text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Department of Pharmacy

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Last modified: 2024-04-04