Prof. Peter Kühnen is a physician and scientist at the Institute for Experimental Pediatric Endocrinology at the Charité. His work was funded by the SPARK-BIH / Validation Fund program from 2018-2020. He has now been awarded the Paul-Martini-Prize 2020 for his studies on normalizing body weight. The prize, endowed with 50,000 euros, is awarded annually by the Paul Martini Foundation, Berlin, for outstanding achievements in clinical-therapeutic drug research.
The Melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) is playing a pivotal role for weight regulation. The team of Prof. Peter Kühnen and Prof. Heike Biebermann demonstrated that the MC4R agonist setmelanotide led to a specific intracellular signaling profile. They examined this biased signaling and identified thereby obese MC4R deficient patients, which were enrolled in a setmelanotide treatment trial. Additionally, obese patients with a specific epigenetic risk variant were enrolled to elucidate, whether this treatment is leading to reduced hunger feeling and weight loss.
Prof. Peter Kühnen, Institute for Experimental Pediatric Endocrinology at Charité says: “The SPARK support was essential for our work. Without the support by the BIH SPARK validation fund track 2, we would not have been able to continue with our clinical trial and therefore, particular indications for this MC4R agonist would potentially not have been tested. Additionally, the funding allowed us to gain new knowledge about biased signaling introduced by MC4R variants and provide thereby critical new information about central body weight regulation. Apart from this financial support, it was extremely helpful to interact and communicate with SPARK experts.”