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The “Chronic Inflammation”. The programme aims to develop a new comprehensive concept for multidisciplinary research and for the interaction between the academic sphere, business, and the health and medical care system within the field of chronic inflammation. The programme also aims to achieve new forms of treatment, and to ensure that Swedish business benefits from the results.

The financiers of the programme support research and development projects within medicine, medical care, bioinformatics, biotechnology and other technology, and they support projects in behavioural science that are important for the understanding of several widespread diseases. The financiers would like, furthermore, to stimulate a close interaction between the academic sphere and business with the aim of strengthening Sweden’s competitiveness and economic growth.

The financiers have agreed to support a research and development programme within the field of chronic inflammation. Two consultative processes took place during the spring and autumn of 2005, analysing Sweden’s current position within this field. These processes covered a wide range of topics. The results of these consultations have formed the basis for the conclusion that current research activity and the current research infrastructure within the field can form the basis for innovative concepts concerning the forms for collaboration within research and development. It is expected that a major focussed investment within chronic inflammation will lead to a reinforcement of current research, and it will lead to the development of new research fields and new forms of treatment in the boundary region between different scientific disciplines and between different stakeholders. The collaboration should include the users (patients) in order to further reinforce this development. Such a collaboration has been initiated with the Swedish Rheumatism Association (“Reumatikerförbundet”) during the initial stages of the programme, and the Association has decided to participate as financier in the programme. It is not only desirable but also possible that further patient organisations will actively participate in the programme.

New knowledge about the innate and acquired immune systems – and how these systems are affected by genetic factors and other factors – has increased in recent years the possibilities for us to understand the mechanisms that lie behind chronic inflammation. Increased knowledge has also meant that several chronic inflammatory diseases can be understood on the basis of a common platform of knowledge. Such progress has led to increased opportunities for prevention and for more highly focussed therapies.

The preparatory work for this programme has made clear how important it is to apply and benefit from research results produced in the academic sphere to a greater extent and more rapidly. This is important not only within the health and medical care system but also within companies. One important reason for this is to develop the ability to meet the major costs to society that various diseases within the field of chronic inflammation involve, while another reason is to enable the relevant patient groups to enjoy an increased quality of life. The programme requires the exchange of ideas and knowledge between stakeholders who do not normally collaborate, and it is expected that this requirement will lead to new and more effective therapies against inflammatory diseases and their consequences. The conditions required to ensure that those who suffer from these diseases are to enjoy a higher quality of life and a more rapid return to employment are in this way increased. Increased collaboration can, in addition, reduce the time required for the development and commercialisation of new therapies, including new drugs, new aid devices, and new medical devices.

It is expected that the aim of achieving an integral patient or user perspective in the research can best be reached by the use of different models in which the knowledge of the users (the patients) concerning the disease will act as a starting point, and in which new knowledge from the research projects returns to the users (the patients). The concept “Chronic Inflammation – a National Research Programme, with Knowledge Generation and Collaborative Production” is fundamentally based on a tight coupling between preclinical research and clinical research, and it is fundamentally based on a close collaboration between stakeholders: various academic participants, the business world, the health and medical care sector, and patients, in order to create a comprehensive view of the field of chronic inflammation.

Those who have taken the initiative to the programme have decided to distribute knowledge of the proposed programme in an open dialogue with the academic world, business, the health and medical care system, and patients. This process will involve two stages. The first stage is an invitation to researchers and other stakeholder representatives to submit a brief registration of interest. The second stage will be conditional on the submission of realistic proposals, and it will involve those who have taken the initiative to the programme inviting formal applications. It is expected that programme funds corresponding to a total programme cost of SEK 80 million over a five-year period will be assigned, with an additional SEK 5 million being assigned for support for international marketing in collaboration with ISA.