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Commission support to research on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)

The European Commission has recently approved funding of some ECU 21.9 million for 22 new research projects on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

Selected from a total of 66 proposals submitted in answer to the joint call for proposals for RTD activities on tra...
The European Commission has recently approved funding of some ECU 21.9 million for 22 new research projects on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

Selected from a total of 66 proposals submitted in answer to the joint call for proposals for RTD activities on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), published by the Commission in April 1997 (OJ No C 134 of 29.4.1997, p. 17), the projects will cover such areas as the evaluation of the possibilities of transmission to humans, the clarification of the role and structure of the "prion", and the implementation of new therapeutic strategies.

The 22 new research projects on TSEs will be funded by the three "Life sciences and technologies" programmes of the European Union: FAIR (three projects); BIOMED (12 projects) and BIOTECH (seven projects).

A BIOTECH project, which brings together two well established laboratories with five new research teams working in this area, will try to determine the function of the normal Prpc protein and to gain an insight into the mechanism whereby it is converted into the pathogenic form PrPsc. Projects supported by the BIOMED programme include an attempt to develop a new method of non-invasive diagnosis for Creutzfeld Jacob Disease based on nuclear magnetic resonance technology. Another BIOMED project will support the development of a system of "in vitro" testing for the evaluation of potential therapeutic agents.

Projects supported by the FAIR programme will include the setting up of the first European network for the epidemiological surveillance of scrapie (the TSE affecting sheep). This network groups together 15 partners from 11 countries, making it possible to monitor epidemics in time and space and to develop methods for gathering, storing and processing samples and data.

These projects are to be financed as a result of the Decision taken by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, on 1 December 1997, to raise by ECU 115 million the total budget for EU research programmes, including ECU 35 million to be allocated to research on TSEs.

Source: European Commission, Service du Porte-parole

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