Publication date: 2009-05-15
'He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything,' says an Arabic proverb. It is health and hence hope that we will be focussing on in this week's instalment of CORDIS Express. Articles on diabetes and obesity, a link between cowpox and pet rats and new insights into stomach cancer are among our highlights as well as research into better emergency rescue services. For good measure, we throw in reports on EU-funded projects attempting to improve quality of life for the elderly and patent processing in Europe.
News - Top Stories
A new European consortium is searching for new compounds to prevent diabetes and obesity. DIOMED ('Diabetes, obesity and medicine'), which kicks off on 22 May, will run for 3 years and has been funded with EUR 813,673 by the EU's Territorial Cooperation Programme for south-west Europe (Interreg IV-SUDOE), which supports transnational and interregional innovation projects. The consortium, coordinated by Antonio Zorzano of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Barcelona, Spain, brings together experts in biology, chemistry, protein structure, nano-screening technologies and technology transfer from six centres in Spain, France and Portugal.
At the beginning of 2009, four young women were admitted to hospital in the northern French town of Compiègne suffering from fever and blackish lesions on their skin. The patients were eventually diagnosed with cowpox, and recovered following treatment. According to EU-funded researchers, all four were infected after being scratched by a pet rat. The researchers warn that as exotic pets increase in popularity, cases like this may well become more common. They also call for the establishment of diagnostic capacity to identify emerging pathogens as quickly as possible. EU support for the work came from two projects: RIVIGENE ('Genomic inventory, forensic markers and assessment of potential therapeutic and vaccine targets for viruses relevant in biological crime and terrorism'), which was financed under the 'Research for policy support' budget line of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6); and EVA ('European virus archive'), which is funded under the Capacities programme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
EU-funded researchers in Denmark, France and Portugal have shed new light on how the bacterium Helicobacter pylori causes stomach cancer. They found that the bacterium, which infects about half the world's population, contributes to the onset of stomach cancer by impairing DNA repair mechanisms. The results are an outcome of the INCA ('The role of chronic infections in the development of cancer') project, which was financed with EUR 12.4 million under the Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Previous studies of H. pylori have shown that in a small number of infected patients, complex interactions between the bacteria and the host lead to the development of stomach cancer. Recent data have suggested that H. pylori infection either causes DNA damage and mutation, or that it inhibits DNA repair.
These articles have been taken from CORDIS News, a daily news service updated every weekday lunchtime. For more research and innovation headlines, go to the CORDIS News homepage.
Focus on Innovation
Researchers in the EU-funded PERSONA ('Perceptive spaces promoting independent aging') project are drawing on a range of advanced technologies to empower the elderly and support them in their efforts to maintain both their independence and a good quality of life. Over EUR 6 million of the project's EUR 11.6 million budget comes from the 'Information Society Technologies' Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). PERSONA began in 2007 and is scheduled to run until 2010. The proportion of senior citizens in Europe's population is rising steadily, and by 2020 a quarter of this population will be over 65 years of age. Many of these people will suffer from health conditions and memory problems that could reduce their quality of life and make it harder for them to live independently.
Future of Research
EU Member States are promoting the creation of an EU-wide patenting system called 'Community Patent' that would allow individuals and enterprises to obtain a unitary patent common to all. Experts say patents fuel innovation and creativity, thus helping intensify and sustain Europeans' competitiveness. For a team of EU-funded researchers, the use of semantic Web technology could be just what the patent doctor ordered. Backed with EUR 2.5 million in funding, the PatExpert ('Advanced patent document processing techniques') project targeted the development of a functioning service and a change in the paradigm currently being followed for patent processing. The project was financed through the Information Society Technologies Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
The advent of satellite technology has opened up a world of good for Europeans. This is especially true for a team of researchers from the Germany-based Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, who are focusing on strengthening emergency rescue services with the development of a state-of-the-art localisation system. In one of their latest projects, the researchers are working on a solution that combines satellite-based positioning with terrestrial guidance tools and situation-based sensor systems, including integrated toxic gas sensors. Beneficiaries of this system will be rescue professionals; while they are out saving lives in times of disaster, the system will watch after them. According to the researchers, modern localisation systems offer rescuers exactly what they need to stay safe while they do their jobs.
The HEAVYROUTE ('Intelligent route guidance of heavy vehicles') project, funded as part of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), has scheduled its final seminar to take place on 9 and 10 June in Brussels, Belgium. The volume of freight transport on roads has grown steadily over the years and is expected to increase significantly over the next decade. HEAVYROUTE is based on the belief that problems resulting from this can in part be solved by improving the generation and usage of maps for trucks in Europe. The use of mapping systems based in satellite guidance has increased dramatically and is providing major benefits to professional drivers.
GA2LEN ('Global allergy and asthma European network') is organising a training course on clinical trials in allergic diseases research from 6 to 8 July in Rome, Italy. The course will provide basic information on the role of clinical research to comply with good clinical practice. The course is suited for practicing allergists and young researchers. It will cover the requirements for designing and performing clinical research both in the context of contracts with pharmaceutical or biotech companies and as independent research.
Calls and Tenders
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a call for tenders for a quantitative microbiological risk assessment of Campylobacter in the broiler meat chain. The aim of the contract is to carry out a quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) at EU level and based on existing models, regarding Campylobacter spp. in the broiler meat chain from primary production to consumer level. Campylobacteriosis is an infection by campylobacter, which produces inflammatory, sometimes bloody diarrhoea, frequently including cramps, fever and pain.
The defence, security and aerospace company BAE Systems is proposing a project to create an advanced autonomous system capable of assessing natural disasters without continuous human control and intervention. Such a system would have to be able to plan on the basis of prior knowledge, use sensors in novel and intelligent ways to gather data, interpret these data and provide a cohesive situation assessment. It could be installed on unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). BAE Systems is looking for partners with experience in mission planning, satellite imaging, disaster management, data capture and interpretation, sensor management, machine vision and object identification.
The CORDIS Partners Service publish partner profiles and find research collaborators to take part in EU-funded research, join a consortium or run a private collaboration in your area of interest. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7. To find partners for the Sixth Framework Programme, go to our FP7 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
Finding affordable information and communication technology (ICT) solutions to reduce the risk of and response to natural disasters in Africa is the challenge the AIDA ('Advancing ICT for DRM in Africa') project consortium has set itself. 'Many developing countries in Africa are exposed to serious natural disaster risks and their need for an adequate ICT infrastructure supporting DRM [disaster risk management] is high,' the consortium explains. Exploring ICT trends and needs for the future and sharing information with all DRM stakeholders in Africa, the project partners hope to achieve a big impact with the limited budget of EUR 1.27 million, two thirds of which come out of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). AIDA is scheduled to run until mid-2010.
Finally and Briefly
Standing out - one way or another - sometimes isn't so good: people stare, make rude remarks, no one wants to dance with you at the ball, that kind of thing. As potential prey, however, being peculiar might after all be a good thing! Researchers at the University of Tennessee in the journal BMC Ecology have proposed the theory that predators ignore prey that looks peculiar. Their theory is based on their finding that birds of prey will rather snack on salamanders that look like your Average Joe than Peter Peculiar.