Publication date: 2012-06-22
This week’s CORDIS Express takes a closer look at some of the latest achievements and breakthroughs of European researchers. The combined findings from 14 EU-funded food traceability projects that investigated the safety and integrity of the whole food chain have just been published. A Grand Minima of solar activity can affect climate conditions. European researchers have discovered that embryonic stem cell properties are impacted by the laboratory conditions used to grow them. A potential cure to fatal nerve-destroying illnesses may soon be available. A team of scientists has created a novel tool to identify hotspots of malaria parasite evolution, and quickly and efficiently track the increase of malarial drug resistance. The Czech Republic is becoming a Silicon Valley when it comes to robot-related technologies. In Finally and Briefly read about woolly mammoths and cooperation.
News - Top Stories
The combined findings from 14 EU-funded food traceability projects that investigated the safety and integrity of the whole food chain have just been published, representing over 10 years of research results. Now, in light of the February 2012 launch of the European Commission's Bioeconomy Action Plan, the forthcoming Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, continued negotiations on CAP reform, and an ever vigilant consumer, CORDIS News takes stock of how far we've come on the road to a safer food chain and how these EU-funded projects have made a difference.
A European team of researchers has discovered that a Grand Minima of solar activity can affect climate conditions. Scientists from the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, in collaboration with Swedish and Dutch colleagues, have provided evidence for a direct solar-climate linkage on centennial timescales. What the scientists found was that an abrupt cooling in Europe, together with an increase in humidity and in particular wind, coincided with a sustained reduction in solar activity 2 800 years ago. The study was presented in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Europeans are driving research and technology, and their latest achievement is in discovering that embryonic stem cell properties are impacted by the laboratory conditions used to grow them. In their groundbreaking study, a European team of researchers evaluated embryonic stem cells grown in a pure undifferentiated state. The use of next generation sequencing technology enabled them to analyse gene expression (i.e. transcriptome) and chromatin modifications (i.e. epigenome). The study, presented in the journal Cell, was supported in part by four EU-funded projects: HEROIC, PLURISYS, EUROSYSTEM and ATLAS. The results pinpoint key differences between pure stem cells and embryonic stem cells grown in laboratory settings.
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
Newly developed self-illuminating polymers have been intentionally designed with the ability to home in on toxic prions and render them harmless, offering the potential to cure fatal nerve-destroying illnesses. This Swedish-Swiss study was supported in part by the LUPAS ('Luminescent polymers for in vivo imaging of amyloid signatures') project, which is backed with almost EUR 5 million under the Health Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The findings were presented in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Future of Research
In a groundbreaking study, an international team of scientists has created a novel tool to identify hotspots of malaria parasite evolution, and to quickly and efficiently track the increase of malarial drug resistance. The findings are presented in the journal Nature. Led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom, the researchers used new sequencing technologies and informatics methods to evaluate malaria genomes from 227 patient blood samples in six countries. They identified a number of differences in how malaria develops in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
In 1920, Czech writer Karel Capek introduced the word 'robot' to the world. His play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) was a work of science fiction, but robots, albeit very different from how Capek imagined them, are rapidly becoming a reality today. Their development is being helped by groundbreaking research taking place in the Czech Republic, a country with a long history of innovation in many fields. The Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague, the oldest institute of technology in Central Europe, stands at the forefront of robotics research. Teams there are working on a range of technologies that promise great advances in robotic devices, applications and human-robot interaction.
An event entitled 'Unanswered questions in cancer sequencing' will take place from 2 to 3 November 2012 in Cambridge, UK. New generations of DNA sequencing technologies are enabling the systematic study of genetic derangement in cancers. The sequencing of cancer exomes or transcriptomes, or even entire cancer genomes, is now possible, though technical and economic challenges remain. Nonetheless, the application of new technologies is dramatically expanding our understanding of this disease. Although, the science community anticipates many exciting discoveries in the near future, the ultimate success of these endeavours rests on the ability to translate what is learned into better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer.
The Sixth European Space Agency Workshop on Satellite Navigation Technologies will take place from 5 to 7 December 2012 in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Navigation technology is becoming a major part of daily life. Behind the user-friendly apps and components, though, lie a complex and ever-changing systems of technologies. The Galileo system is expected to add to European capabilities and stimulate further developments in the field.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission has published a call for proposals under the Lifelong Learning Programme on the implementation of the European strategic objectives in education and training. The general objective of the call is to promote the implementation of the four strategic objectives of the 'Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020)' (lifelong learning and mobility; quality and efficiency; equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; creativity and innovation) and a set of strategic priorities agreed for 2012-14.
The Portugese Polytechnic Institute of Bragança is looking for partners to participate in a project that will be focusing on discovering new bioactive compounds in plants. The project’s main aim will be the identification, characterisation and evaluation of the potential of bioactive compounds sourced from plants. The bioactive compounds will be characterised from the chemical and biological points of view. Those showing the most interesting properties will be tested in the formulation of innovative products. In order to promote the stability of the bioactive compounds during the final product processing conditions, or in order to obtain their controlled release, the substances will be micro/nano-encapsulated, using biocompatible and biodegradable matrices.
The CORDIS Partners Service helps you to find research collaborators in order to benefit from EU or other funding. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7.
Although many European countries have introduced bans on smoking in public, Europeans are having a hard time stamping out their nicotine habit. In some cases, that has forced governments to soften antismoking legislation. Lighting up doesn't carry the social stigma in Europe that it carries in other countries. The ‘Tackling socioeconomic inequalities in smoking: learning from natural experiments by time trend analyses and cross-national comparisons’ (SILNE) project seeks to analyse various natural policy experiments within Europe with the aim of generating new empirical evidence on the effectiveness of possible strategies to reduce inequalities in smoking. The project will first assess whether changes in national tobacco control policies have influenced inequalities in smoking cessation among adults in various EU countries. It will then do a comparison between European countries to assess whether cross-national differences in specific tobacco control policies were associated with inequalities in smoking initiation among adolescents. SILNE will review the published results of intervention studies, and integrate these data. Researchers from different European countries will work together, and bring together four large international networks relevant to inequities in smoking.
The CORDIS FP6 Find a Project section offers factsheets and contact details for projects funded under the Sixth Framework Programme. You can also browse the FP5 projects section (archived) to see what kinds of research proposals have been chosen for European funding in the past.
Finally and Briefly
Evolution has sometimes been characterised as being a never-ending process which favours individuals that are the most competitive or adaptive. The fittest survive, the saying goes, and the weakest do not. However, this 'eat or be eaten' approach to history may be much more nuanced than it would initially appear.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Plön (Germany), Harvard University (US) and the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) wanted to know if a process would that favours those who help themselves, and not others, would actually lead to cooperative behaviour.