Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

EUROFAN: revealing the secrets of yeast to help improve human health

EUROFAN is a project that involves revealing the secrets of yeast and understanding yeast genes in order to gain information that can be used to improve human health. The biological function of orphan genes (newly discovered genes) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is studied and a process is being developed to establish a stock collection and database of gene function for industry and research.

Yeast is the only eukaryote (the group including all plants, animals and fungi and which is genetically more complex than bacteria which are prokaryotes) for which the genome is entirely known, in large part due to the European Yeast Genome Sequencing Network (EYGSN). The structure of the yeast genome and at least one third of its genes are similar to those of man, and can thus be used to study various diseases, particularly cancers and genetic diseases. There are also species of yeast which cause human infections some of which are still difficult to cure. EUROFAN is conducted in consultation with the Yeast Industry Platform (YIP), an association of about 20 companies which helps orient the research and ensures rapid technology transfer to European agro-food and pharmaceutical industries.

Over 800 strains are being constructed, each with one orphan gene inactivated, and are being used to study the function of the genes in question. More than 350 of these genes have been isolated (cloned). The strains and the cloned genes will be made available to research and industry alike by EUROSCARF, the European genetic archive and resource centre. The advances made include: the characterization of carbohydrate metabolic genes, and systems involved in nutrient uptake; construction of a computer-controlled batch reactor with commercial potential; and new insights into yeasts which cause human disease, in particular Candida albicans, opening the route to new possibilities for therapy.

Reported by

University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST)
United Kingdom