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Find Calls for Proposals on CORDIS

WHAT'S NEW?  (3 of 3)
Project: Genomics, mechanisms and treatment of addiction
Acronym:   GENADDICT
What's new:   New project
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Project: Task-force in Europe for Drug Development for the Young
Acronym:   TEDDY
What's new:   New project
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Project: Curing autoimmune disease. A translational approcah to autoimmune diseases in the post-genomic era using inflammatory arthritis and myositis as prototypes and learning examples.
Acronym:   AUTOCURE
What's new:   New project
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Title: Targeting newly discovered oxygen-sensing cascades for novel cancer treatments Biology, equipment, drug candidates.
Project summary:   The application will aim at understanding the role of hypoxia and factors regulating it, in tumour development. These processes have been proven highly important for tumour progression and resistance to chemiotherapy. Because of their strong over-expression in solid cancer tumours this new knowledge may open a new therapeutic window. Strengths of this application stand on the strong academic-clinical-industrial interaction and the successful mobilisation of a diverse set of competence
Title: Mutant p53 as target for improved cancer treatment
Project summary:   The principal goal of this program is to characterise a subset of mutations in the p53 gene that bring about a gain of function (GOF). It is hoped that this information will be of use in the prediction of response to conventional chemotherapy, as well as in prognosis. In the long run, it is hoped that small molecular weight compounds, able to restore wild type function to the mutated molecules, will be optimised for use in cancer therapy.
Title: European Consortium for Stem Cell Research
Project summary:   EuroStemCell aims to build the scientific foundations required to take stem cell technology to the clinic. Combining the expertise of more than 100 researchers across 27 research groups in 14 partner institutions, the overarching aim is an integrated trans-European effort to develop well-characterised cell lines of therapeutic potential, derived from embryonic, neural, mesodermal and epithelial stem cells.

The ability to produce specialised cell populations at scale will create new opportunities for assignment of gene function, identification and validation of drug targets, pharmaceutical screening, toxicology testing, and, in the longer perspective, for repair of diseased or damaged tissue by cell transplantation.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 

Title: Novel molecular drug targets for obesity and type 2 diabetes
Acronym:   DIABESITY
Project summary:   The rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and associated complications is a major global health problem. In Europe alone, approximately 33 million adults will be suffering from diabetes by 2010. Obesity, which is a major recognised risk factor for type-2 diabetes, is itself rapidly increasing in prevalence resulting in a "diabesity" epidemic. The current cost of type-2 diabetes in the European Union is 15 billion per year, and medical complications arising from diabetes account for up to 8% of total health costs in Europe. A component of our disposition to obesity is genetic, the biggest predictor of how obese you will be is how obese your parents are. For most people, neither dieting nor current pharmacological interventions are effective in achieving long-term weight reduction. Dieting is largely ineffective because once a chronically overweight state has been attained, our brains interpret dieting as a threat to survival, and the control systems in the hypothalamus of the brain reduce our metabolism and attempt to maintain body weight i.e. our brains "defend" our existing energy stores. Thus to treat diabesity, a way must be found to modulate the ways in which the brain controls metabolism, body weight and composition. The DIABESITY project aims to identify new genes implicated in obesity and develop strategies for validating these genes as targets for future pharmacological manipulation. We It will study how these genes interact with hypothalamic pathways that regulate appetite and metabolism using multiple approaches to establish the functional role of genes in regulating metabolism, body weight and composition. Using this approach the team aims to identify several new drug targets for the treatment and prevention of diabesity. The project, which started in January 2004, will run for 5 years and gathers 27 partners (from 24 participating institutions).
Additional project information:   Project website  Commission News Alert 
Title: Web accessible MR decision support system for brain tumor diagnosis and prognosis, incorporating in vivo and ex vivo genomic and metabolic data
Project summary:   This proposal aims to provide a decision support tool to aid the diagnosis and staging of brain tumors using 1H brain Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. This would facilitate the development of evidence-based clinical decision-making in this area. Strong points were the integration of technologies in the consortia, the quality of the proposed S &T and the leading role of SME.
Title: Rational Treatment Strategies Combating Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation (OXPHOS) Disorders
Project summary:   This project aims at tackling defects in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, which lead to multi-system disorders affecting tissues and organs with high energy demand. Disorders of respiratory chain complex I, complex IV, of mitochondrial DNA maintainance and of mitochondrial protein synthesis will be investigated using a scheme articulated around 4 nodes: clinical aspects of OXPHOS disease; pathophysiology; OXPHOS assembly and regulation; therapies' development. By putting an emphasis on translational research, the overriding aim of the project is to provide a platform for the development of effective treatments for OXPHOS disease, that can have a real and sustained impact on the lives of patients, including children. A better knowledge of mitochondria in general should also have an impact in other research areas, for instance human development and ageing, or neurodegenerative disorders, which represent a high public health interest. 12 partners, of 9 countries including CZ, are involved in the project. No SME is at present included as full partner, but 4 SMEs are associated to the network, in training activities, development of new chemical entities and web design. It is foreseen to engage other SMEs during the course of the project.
Title: Advanced molecular tools for array-based analyses of genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and cells
Acronym:   MolTools
Project summary:   This project aims to deliver a wide range of novel microarray technologies and applications. Microarrays are used for high throughput analyses of genes, transcripts, proteins and cells.
Additional project information:   Project website  Europa news article 
Title: Adult mesenchymal stem cells engineering for connective tissue disorders. From the bench to the bed side
Acronym:   GENOSTEM
Project summary:   The proposal deals withautologous adult mesenchymal stem cells to be used in the field of connective tissue disorders such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone factures, tendon and cartilage injuries etc.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: Selection and development of Microbicides for mucosal use to prevent sexual HIV transmission / acquisition.
Project summary:   The main objective of this 4 years IP is the development, up to clinical phase I, of a specific HIV microbicide for the prevention of sexual transmission/acquisition of HIV, based on the interruption of viral replication at the mucosal level.
Title: Selective targeting of angiogenesis and of tumor stroma
Project summary:   The applicants propose to develop novel strategies to address tumour traetment by targeting the tumour-associated vasculature. Based on a stringent 20 workpackages step-by-step proposal, the applicants propose to go all the way from target identification through target validation to clinical implementation and validation.
Title: Mucosal Vaccines for Poverty Related Diseases
Acronym:   MUVAPRED
Project summary:   The aim of this project is to develop mucosally delivered vaccines against HIV and TB which will induce local immunity able to neutralise the pathogens at their port of entry and systemic immunity able to prevent systemic spread of the infection.
Additional project information:   CORDIS News article  Commission News Alert 
Title: Development of a novel approach in hazard and risk assessment or reproductive toxicity by a combination and application of in vitro, tissue and sensor technologies
Acronym:   ReProTect
Project summary:   The project foresees the development of novel cell-based in vitro methods in toxicological assessment. Relevant in vitro models are expected to be developed and subsequently validated, impacting positively on the policy support and development (REACH system for example). The increase of cell sustainability has been well addressed, as are the areas of stem cell research, array technologies, sensor development and definition of markers for toxicity. The development of a conceptual framework and the activities of the technology scouts is expected to move the field beyond state of the art. The proposal will undergo a thorough ethical review in December 2003 as one workpackage is focussing on human embryonic stem cells.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Integrated technologies for in-vivo molecular imaging
Project summary:   This project brings together a multidisciplinary team (engineers, physicists and biologists) focused on developing and applying high resolution methods of in vivo molecular imaging. The development of these new techniques and probes will enable scientists to solve biological questions on the sub-cellular, cellular and whole small animal (mouse) level.
Title: Genetics for Healthy Ageing
Project summary:   The aim of the project is to identify genes involved in healthy ageing and longevity, allowing individuals to survive to advanced old age in good cognitive and physical condition and in the absence of major age-related diseases. To achieve this aim, demographers, geneticists, epidemiologists, molecular biologists, bioinformaticians, and statisticians collaborate in this IP. They will collect and analyse tissue samples from an unprecedented high number of 2550 sibpairs older than 90 years of age and compare them to the same number of younger controls. Analysis will include a genome scan by microsatellites, linkage disequilibrium mapping using SNPs, positional cloning, mutational analysis, detailed analysis of chromosomal regions already suggested to be involved in ageing and longevity, and genotyping of mitochondrial DNA. Comprehensive data analysis will combine advanced postgenomic and bioinformatic approaches to identify gender-specific genes involved in healthy ageing and to develop innovative mathematical and statistical models capable of combining the genetic data with demographic characteristics, health status, socio-economic factors, and life style habits. The participating SME is specialised in high-throughput approaches for studying gene expression by using DNA micro-array technology. 22 partners from 9 EU Member States and one partner from Poland are involved in the project.
Title: Extracellular Proteases and the Cancer Degradome: Innovative Diagnostic Markers, Therapeutic Targets and Tumour Imaging Agents
Project summary:   The main aims include the definition of new molecular targets for drug design, the development of novel specific interventions that are based on thorough knowledge of the pathophysiology of proteases, the identification of new molecular diagnostic and prognostic indicators of patient risk that can improve health care delivery. If successful, this project will enable, for the first time, a rational basis for developing inhibitors of specific proteases in selected cancers.
Additional project information:   Project website  Europa news article  CORDIS News article 
Title: European integrated project on spinocerebellar ataxias: Pathogenesis, genetics, animal models and therapy
Acronym:   EUROSCA
Project summary:   The project focuses on autosomal dominant SpinoCerebellar Ataxias (SCA), ranging from basic science to clinical applications. In particular, it will establish a CAPIT-SCA (Core Assessment Programme for Interventional Therapies) clinical scale, maintain a SCA registry, perform research on genetic modifying factors in SCA, develop disease models and pursuit novel therapeutic strategies based on a detailed understanding of the gene role and function. This will be the most ambitious international project on dominant SCA, which will pose Europe in the leading position in this field of research. The consortium gathers 22 participants, including 2 ACC partners (HU, PL). An SME has been foreseen, but has not yet been included as partner. This SME is supposed to screen for and provide small molecules for pre-clinical development of active compounds against neurodegene-ration.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: The Development of Immunotherapeutic Strategies to Treat Haematological and Neoplastic diseases on the Basis of Optimised Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation
Acronym:   ALLOSTEM
Project summary:   This proposal aims to solve the medical problems associated with allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and to enhance the immunotherapeutic effects of allogenic stem cell transplantation.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Abnormal proteins in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders
Project summary:   This project studies protein aggregation in all common neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's Chorea, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, transmissible spongioform encephalitis, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The planned research ranges from biochemistry of protein aggregates, gene discovery, human genetics and tissue, to studies on model organisms, cell biology and proteomics, and further to clinical measures including brain imaging, the development of diagnosis and the discovery of novel drug targets and therapies. The consortium gathers 36 participants. One ACC partner (PL) is included. Co-ordination and management is provided by VERUM Foundation, a private non profit organisation based in DE. Two SMEs (Cellzome AG and EVOTEC Neurosciences GmbH) are included in the project.
Title: An Integrated project for the design and testing of vaccine candidates against tuberculosis: Identification, development and clinical studies
Acronym:   TB-VAC
Project summary:   Taking advantage of the complete sequencing of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome and the availability of new research tools, the project joins 30 leading European research institutions with the objective of optimising and developing TB vaccines better than the available BCG.
Additional project information:   CORDIS News article  Commission News Alert 
Title: Biocrystallography (X) on a Highly Integrated Technology Platform for European Structural Genomics
Acronym:   BIOXHIT
Project summary:   The main objective of BIOXHIT is to exploit high-throughput structure determination using X-ray crystallography with synchrotron radiation. It focuses on the development of hardware synchrotron technologies, high throughput crystallisation technologies and data collection / processing, thereby developing standardisation of methodologies in synchrotron data acquisition and treatment.
Title: Novel approaches to pathogenesis, diagnosis and Treatment of autoimmune diseases based on new insights into thymus-dependent self-tolerance
Project summary:   This application proposes to use a novel approach for the treatment of autoimmune disease by targeting the restoration of central self-tolerance in the thymus. The project would concentrate on type 1 diabetes as a model of autoimmune disease.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Genome-Based therapeutic drugs for depression
Acronym:   GENDEP
Project summary:   Will analyse transcriptomics and proteomics to identify new targets for tailor-made drugs to treat depression. Will predict response to psychiatric drug treatment and the reduction of adverse events from such drugs. Looks at the roles of ethics committees, the attitudes of clinical service users and service providers.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Further improvement of radiotherapy of cancer through side effect reduction by application of adult stem cell therapy
Project summary:   The project has the goal to reduce the level of normal tissue complications after radiotherapy. The strategy chosen by the consortium is to use isolated human stem cells form different sources including bone marrow/blood and epithelial tissues to repair damaged normal tissue. The intention is to optimise stem cell culture conditions and establishing the best scheduling of radiation treatment and cellular infusion to enable recovery of specific organs from radiation exposure.
Title: Translational and Functional Onco-Genomics: from cancer-oriented genomic screenings to new diagnostic tools and improved cancer treatment.
Project summary:   The project will identify and characterise novel cancer-related genes expected to play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Up-or down-regulation of identified genes in models of tumour aggressiveness will provide proof-of-concept validation of their potential usefulness as new molecular targets for drug screenings. The diagnostic potential of the candidate cancer genes will be evaluated and validated by systematic analysis of tumour samples with different techniques
Title: Regulation of mitosis by phosphorylation - A combined functional genomics, proteomics and chemical biology approach
Acronym:   Mitocheck
Project summary:   The regulation of cell proliferation is crucial to understand several human diseases, especially cancer. The goal of Mitocheck is to generate a catalogue of kinase substrates that play a crucial role in mitosis and that might be disregulated in cancers
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: Protein kinases - Novel Drug Targets of Post Genomic Era
Project summary:   The overall objective of the project is to develop Proteinkinase inhibitors based on a combination of design and screening by using natural compounds from the European biosphere in addition to chemical libraries. The proposal aims to develop the PK inhibitors to a pre-clinical stage, including testing of efficacy, potency and selectivity in both in vitro and in vivo studies. The integration of the necessary scientific disciplines is very well structured comprising structural biology, in silico screening, functional biology, design ann scaling of assays, robotic high-throughput Protein expression, in vivo pharmacological screening, pharmacokinetics, toxicological studies and access to clinical facilities.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: New molecules in mood disorders: a genomic, neurobiological and systems approach in animal models and human disorder
Acronym:   NEWMOOD
Project summary:   This project aims at studying the biological factors underlying depression. It promises to create conceptually novel, targeted patient-dependent approaches for the treatment of depressive disorders by addressing and deciphering the underlying genetic factors and molecular mechanisms of the disease. The strength of the proposal lies in the integration of the clinical and experimental aspects of depression. Considering the high incidence of depression and the resulting individual as well as societal burdens, the successful project may have a major impact on public health. This geographically well distributed network gathers 13 participants including three ACC partners (EE, HU, PL). SMEs are foreseen, but have not yet been included as participants.
Additional project information:   Europa news article  CORDIS News article  Nature Science Update article 
Title: Targeting replication and integration of HIV
Acronym:   TRIoH
Project summary:   This project aims at the development of novel anti-HIV molecules targeting the replication cycke and the integration process of HIV. In addition, the viral entry will be addressed, the starting point of the infection. Multidisciplinary proteomic approaches are to be used to study the different steps in the viral cycle. As potential inhibitors synthetic compounds, peptides, DNA- and RNA based systems will be designed and the cellular factors involved in productive HIV and SIV will be generated to enable testing of the inhibitors in Rhesus monkeys and should allow to develop some candidate compounds ready for clinical trials.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Identification of risk genes for atherothrombosis in coronary artery disease by transcriptome and proteome analysis and high throughput exon resequencing
Project summary:   The ambitious project will generate population genetics data that will provide new information on the cause of CVD and atherotrombosis though the identification of genes and gene variants, proteins and intracellular signalling pathways that are contributing. To reach this objective the consortium brings together over than 160 staff members of 16 departments working in CAD and will create a virtual European Cardiovascular Genetics Institute. 16 partners (3 SMEs), of 6 EU countries, are involved in the project. Gender balance concerning the participants is achieved, 45 % of the personnel are women. Integration and expertise will lead to innovation and invention, which has the intent to be exploited by the associated SMEs and the pharmaceutical sector. This is a highly focused, well structured and clearly outlined integrated project with an good mobilisation of resources and an high quality of management.
Title: AIDS vaccines integrated project
Project summary:   The aim of this project is a joined effort of European and African research groups to develop an effective vaccine against HIV/AIDS. The consortium will conduct phase I clinical trials in Europe to test new preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccines. The novelty of the HIV/AIDS vaccines to be developed by AVIP lays on the combination of both structural and regulatory HIV genes/products. Priority has been given to 4 combined vaccine candidates, in which single antigens already underwent or are starting phase I studies or are under GMP development.
Title: Functional Genomics in Engineered ES cells
Project summary:   Self-renewal, commitment and differentiation of murine embryonic stem cells will be investigated in this project using a functional genomics approach to discover genes, regulatory pathways and fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms. This ambitious project is industry-led and has a number of SMEs.
Title: Zebrafish Models for Human Development and Disease
Project summary:   The zebrafish is a model organism whose potential for the functional analysis of genes has not yet been fully realised. This project uses high throughput tools, technologies and approaches (e.g. mutagenesis screening, forward genetics and targeted knock-out) in this non-mammalian vertebrate to harvest large data sets on gene functions underlying development and disease.
Title: European Microbicides Project
Acronym:   EMPRO
Project summary:   This project aims to develop new topical microbicides that block entry of HIV at mucosal sites with the aim of establishing a pipeline of candidate microbicides while taking selected microbicides through Phase I clinical trial.
Additional project information:   CORDIS News article 
Title: Methods and advanced equipment for simulation and treatment in radio-oncology
Project summary:   The present project proposes innovative research in software development and advanced sensor technology to validate in clinical conditions the specific aspects of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy employing photons, protons and advanced brachytherapy. The major strength of this project was its potential likelihood to help solve limitations of current radiotherapy technology and clinical application and the well- suited partnership.
Title: Recombinant Pharmaceuticals from Plants for Human Health
Acronym:   Pharma-Planta
Project summary:   The project aims to use plants as expression systems to produce recombinant antibodies for use in medicine. It includes consideration of regulatory requirements, GMP and pre-clinical toxicity testing, and new strategies for a second generation of recombinant molecules.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article  BBC news article 
Title: Genome-Wide Discovery and Functional Analysis of Novel Genes in Lymphangiogenesis
Project summary:   The aim of this project is to discover novel genes important for lymphatic vascular versus blood vascular development and function. Mouse and zebrafish models will be used to identify novel genes involved in lymphangiogenesis processes in a functional genomics approach.
Title: Integrated Membrane Protein Actions
Project summary:   The 3D-structures of integral membrane proteins are of great interest both in terms of fundamental understanding and biomedical application. The E-MeP structural genomics programme seeks to develop high throughput technology for membrane proteins and expression systems to obtain high-resolution structures of such membrane proteins. The project will incorporate many innovative technologies (e.g. membrane protein bioinformatics and EM methods), and also intends to address the challenge of generating milligram-scale production of eukaryotic membrane proteins, which up to now is seen as a major bottleneck in membrane protein research.
Title: Functional Proteomics: Towards defining the interaction proteome
Acronym:   Interaction Proteome
Project summary:   This project focuses on protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions. The project will use large screens on selected biologically and medically relevant target systems by applying tools such as mass spectrometry technology, cryo-electron tomography and fluorescence labelling within cells to visualise the proteins and their complexes in the cellular environment.
Additional project information:   Project website  Europa news article  Max Planck Society Press Release 
Title: Innovative Chemochine-Based Therapeutic Strategies for Autoimmunity and Chronic Inflammation
Acronym:   INNOCHEM
Project summary:   The general objective of INNOCHEM is to develop innovative chemokine-based therapeutic strategies for autoimmunity and chronic inflammation. The project is based on the scientific excellence of the applicants, which have made major recognized contributions to the field since the very beginning of chemokine discovery, and on the construction of shared technological platforms. This will include: i) proteomics and ii) transcriptional profiling for the outline of the "chemokinome" in pathophysiological conditions and identification of new antagonists; iii) molecular modelling of agonist/antagonist receptor or agonist/inhibitor interaction, for pharmacology and drug design; iv) gene modified mice for target validation in autoimmune disorders. Genetic, structural, biological, and immunopathological studies will provide a framework for the development of innovative chemokine-based therapeutic strategies. The therapeutic approaches to be investigated are innovative and not limited to conventional antagonists. These will include decoy receptors, agonist binders, and non-competitive allosteric inhibitors. In addition to academic groups, therapy-oriented research will include 3 biotech SMEs, 1 medium and 2 big Pharma companies. The companies involved develop complementary non-overlapping approaches to target the chemokine system with recombinant and low molecular weight molecules. INNOCHEM is expected to conduct a "proof of principle" clinical study in volunteers in the first 18 months. The ambition of this project is to re-establish European leadership in basic and applied chemokine research by integrating academic and industrial cutting edge groups to develop innovative therapeutic strategies against autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory disorders.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Innovative Medicines for Europe
Acronym:   InnoMed
Project summary:   The discovery and development of new drugs is very costly and attrition rates are high. Initiatives to reduce the rate of attrition during later phases are clearly desirable and if successfully implemented will reduce development costs. The InnoMed proposal addresses the complex issues associated with the future of biomedical research in the EU, and addresses ways of achieving accelerated development of, safe and more effective medicines, aiming to revitalize the European biopharmaceutical research environment. InnoMed s wide consortium base, being led by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry and Associations (EFPIA), guarantee s a commitment from all the stakeholders needed to change the process of drug development in Europe. The course for addressing the necessary changes is to first develop a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) that will encompass the whole path from discovery of a new drug target to the validation and approval stages of a new drug compound. This SRA is already in the process of being elaborated involving all the relevant stakeholders via meetings and workshops and four key bottlenecks in the drug development process have been identified:
  • Safety
  • Efficacy
  • Knowledge Management
  • Training and Education
The elaboration of this SRA will be performed in a first stage within the frame of the European Technology Platform (ETP) and, will, of course, be subject to regular updating. The resulting comprehensive strategy with a detailed roadmap will reveal a variety of concrete research topics to be deployed within the ETP. The implementation of these research topics will deliver added value to the drug discovery and development process and to individual stakeholders. InnoMed will demonstrate the validity of the approach through two research sub-projects: AddNeuroMed, which will develop and validate novel surrogate markers based upon in vitro and in vivo models in animals and humans, using Alzheimer s disease as a testing platform. PredTox will deliver new biomarkers of toxicity and a greater understanding of mechanisms of toxicity.
Title: Novel molecular diagnostic tools for the prevention and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
Acronym:   MolDiag-Paca
Project summary:   The MolDiag-Paca Integrated Project proposes to develop novel molecular diagnostic approaches for the prevention, early diagnosis and risk stratification of pancreatic cancer. Based on large scale transcriptome, genome and proteome analyses, novel molecular techniques will be developed for the detection of cancer cells or preneoplastic cells in minimal amounts of clinical tissue (fine needle biopsies) or fluid (pancreatic/duodenal juice or serum) samples. Novel tools will include transcript and epigentic analyses, chip technology, single or multiple marker protein studies, DNA/RNA PCR analyses, serum proteomics and molecular imaging. The project benefits from large multinational European trials such as ESPAC or EUROPAC. At the end clinical trials of novel diagnostic tools developed should be initiated.
Title: Concerted Safety & Efficiency Evaluation of Retroviral Transgenesis in Gene Therapy of Inherited Diseases (CONSERT)
Acronym:   CONSERT
Project summary:   CONSERT will integrate leading European activities for a structured implementation of novel therapies using genetically enhanced postnatal stem cells, with focus on the treatment of monogenic immunodeficiencies, hemoglobinopathies, anemias and storage disorders. CONSERT will develop and evaluate methods for genetic stem cell modification with wide implications for many other disorders including viral infection and cancer. A central and exceptional theme of our work is an unbiased safety and efficiency evaluation of the key technology used in the genetic modifications of replicating somatic cells: retroviral vector-mediated transgenesis.

Lenti-, spuma- and gammaretroviral vectors will be tailor-made for target disorders and tested for potency and safety in preclinical disease models. Designed with a translational aim, basic studies in stem cell biology and selectable marker technology will complement this research.

In parallel, molecular studies in precise cell systems and animal models will provide a deeper mechanistic understanding of transgene-host interactions. Supervised by a proactive ethical project, CONSERT will stimulate a competitive and complementary evolution of biomedical academia, clinics, innovative health service providers, and associated training opportunities.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Beta Cell Programming for Treatment of Diabetes (BETACELLTHERAPY)
Project summary:   Our consortium with leading teams in molecular, developmental and functional biology has worked out an integrated program to generate insulin-producing beta cells in therapeutic quantities and established interactions to translate knowledge to associated bioindustry and multicenter clinical trials, as well as to society. Nature's biologic program to develop and preserve a functional beta cell mass throughout life is taken as platform for directing strategies towards laboratory production of a therapeutic beta cell mass. Beta cells will be derived from embryonic stem cells and from transdifferentiating liver, intestinal and pancreatic exocrine cells. Functional genomics will be used to compare phenotypes of beta cells from new sources with those isolated from the pancreas. This analysis will direct further research and judge on the start of preclinical testing. It will also generate new tools and quality control criteria that will allow standardization of ongoing trials and adjustments in graft biology to increase its long-term survival and function in patients.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Gene therapy: an Integrated Approach for Neoplastic Treatment (GIANT)
Acronym:   GIANT
Project summary:   Translation of genetic knowledge from the Human Genome into disease-specific therapy for untreatable congenital and acquired diseases is now reality. However, the gene therapy vectors currently used in experimental settings can be developed for safe clinical application only if fundamental problems are solved: ie the limitation of vector dose by attachment targeting and expression control and a decrease of non-specific toxicity. Minimisation of vector immunogenicity (stealthing) is necessary to reduce bloodstream and immune-mediated reduction of effective vector concentration. In the GIANT project, targeting and stealthing of both viral and non-viral vectors will be used to select candidates for testing in Phase I clinical studies. GIANT will concentrate firstly on one uniform model system and disease target (prostate carcinoma) for vector testing standardisation and in vitro, preclinical and clinical vector comparison. We will use a clinically approved vector backbone of adenoviral constructs re-targeted to prostate cancer via surface antigens, and hybrid prostate targeted promoters. The consortium includes a GMP vector production facility and clinical facilities with scientific and ethical permission to carry out human cytotoxic gene therapy trials, guaranteeing the immmediate translation of selected vectors into the clinical testing. The biomaterials obtained will serve to develop new assays for vector distribution, efficacy and monitoring of the immune response against various vector systems.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Rational design and standardized evaluation of novel genetic vaccines (COMPUVAC)
Acronym:   COMPUVAC
Project summary:   Recombinant viral vectors and virus-like particles are considered the most promising vehicles to deliver antigens in prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer. Several potential vaccine designs exist but their cost-effective development cruelly lacks a standardised evaluation system. On these grounds, COMPUVAC is devoted to (i) rational development of a novel platform of genetic vaccines and (ii) standardisation of vaccine evaluation. COMPUVAC assembles a platform of viral vectors and virus-like particles that are among today's most promising vaccine candidates and that are backed up by the consortium's complementary expertise and intellectual property, including SMEs focusing on vaccine development. COMPUVAC recognises the lack of uniform means for side-by-side qualitative and quantitative vaccine evaluation and will thus standardise the evaluation of vaccine efficacy and safety by using "gold standard" tools, molecular and cellular methods in virology and immunology, and algorithms based on genomic and proteomic information. "Gold standard" algorithms for intelligent interpretation of vaccine efficacy and safety will be built into COMPUVAC's interactive Genetic Vaccine Decision Support System, which should generate (i) vector classification according to induced immune response quality, accounting for gender and age, (ii) vector combination counsel for prime-boost immunisations, and (iii) vector safety profile according to genomic analysis. Since one of our "gold standard" antigens is the West Nile virus (WNV) envelope protein, an additional aim of COMPUVAC is to generate a candidate vaccine against WNV. As end products, our vector platform and "gold standard" tools, methods and algorithms will be available to the scientific and industrial communities as a toolbox and interactive database which standardised nature should contribute to cost-effective development of novel vaccines with validated efficacy and safety profile

Title: Design of small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of Alzheimer s disease based on the discovery of innovative drug targets
Acronym:   ADIT
Project summary:   Alzheimer s disease (AD) is the most common degenerative dementia, with enormous unmet medical, social and economic needs. ADIT aims at the development to the preclinical stage of novel chemical entities having specific neuroprotective activity. Proteomics and transcriptomics methodologies and sophisticated bioinformatics are used to identify proteins involved in Amyloid- -mediated neurodegeneration. In vitro, in vivo and ex vivo experiments are carried out in order to identify and validate drug targets ready for bioassay design and lead discovery. The ambitious final goal of the project is the progression of two drug candidates towards clinical development.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Role of p63 and related pathways in epithelial stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and in rare EEC-related syndromes
Acronym:   Epistem
Project summary:   The main goal is to study the role of p63 (a key molecule in embryonic development) and related pathways, in epithelial stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and in rare Ectrodactyly Ectodermal dysplasia - clefting (EEC) - related syndromes, for which there is currently no cure. The focus is to generate new knowledge and translate it into applications that enhance human health. Both fundamental and applied research will be involved. The project integrates multidisciplinary efforts to understand the molecular basis of factors involved in epidermal stem cell generation, maintenance and differentiation, and in skin disease.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Novel Testing Strategies for In Vitro Assessment of Allergens.
Acronym:   Sens-it-iv
Project summary:   Allergies to sensitising agents are steadily increasing. Risk assessment for potential skin- or lung-sensitisers, completely depends on animal testing. The overall objective of Sens-it-iv is to produce in vitro alternatives for these assays, and develop them upto the level of pre-validation. Besides reducing animal experimentation, an increase the accuracy of predicting sensitising potencies is expected. In vitro mechanisms, relevant for in vivo sensitisation, will be identified at the level of human lung or skin epithelial cells (EC), dendritic cells (DC) and T-cells. These efforts imply specific scientific (S) and technologic (T) objectives: Existing data on sensitising, irritating and toxic compounds are collected (S). In vivo changes induced by selected compounds in the specified cell types are described using functional genomics (S). Similarly, the impact of compounds on individual cells, and the interaction between these cells is assessed in vitro (S). The physico-chemical properties of chemicals responsible for metabolic activation and hapten-formation are determined (S). The data are collected in an Inductive Database allowing queries for data patterns and predictive models (T). Mechanisms specifically involved in skin and respiratory sensitisation are identified using bio-informatics (S). The information is used to adapt/improve existing techniques, and to develop organotypic models derived from human cells assays (T). A proof of principle is established on a set of selected skin and respiratory sensitisers, irritants and toxic compounds (T). Sens-it-iv is innovative primarily by the coordinated and extensive characterisation of the impact of compounds on cell-cell interactions for identification of the key mechanisms of sensitisation. Consistency with existing and ongoing projects, and optimal exploitation of these achievements is ensured by the involvement of ECVAM, COLIPA, ECOPA, IVTIP and OECD in various levels of the project.
Title: Optimization and pre-validation of an in vitro test strategy for predicting human acute toxicity
Acronym:   A-CUTE-TOX
Project summary:   Validated alternative test methods are urgently required for safety toxicology of drugs, chemicals and cosmetics. Both REACH and the 7th amendment of the Cosmetics Directive call for the broad replacement of animal experiments on a short-term. While some animal tests for topical toxicity have been successfully replaced one by one by alternative methods, systemic toxicities require new test strategies in order to achieve an adequate safety level for the consumer. The aim of A-Cule-Tox is to develop a simple and robust in vitro testing strategy for prediction of human acute systemic toxicity, which could replace the animal acute toxicity tests used today for regulatory purposes. The involvement of ECVAM and that of regulators (such as European Chemicals Bureau) guarantees the follow-up. The Scientific objectives of the project are: 1. Compilation, critical evaluation and generation of high quality in vitro and in vivo data for comparative analysis. 2. Identifying factors that influence the correlation between in vitro toxicity (concentration) and in vivo toxicity (dosage), and to define an algorithm that accounts for this. 3. Explore innovative tools and cellular systems to identify new end-points and strategies to better anticipate animal and human toxicity. 4. To design a simple, robust and reliable in vitro test strategy amenable for robotic testing, associated with the prediction model for acute toxicity. The project will develop the concepts required to compose testing strategies via the continuous implementation of novel in vitro and in silico alternatives. This approach requires the dimension of a transnational Integrated Project, involving prominent toxicity research groups in the EU, close monitoring by and input from the regulatory community and professional managerial steering. In return, it offers the realistic opportunity to achieve a substantial reduction of animal experiments in acute systemic toxicity assesments.
Title: RNA Interference Technology as Human Therapeutic Tool
Acronym:   RIGHT
Project summary:   The RIGHT project aims at exploiting the vast potential of RNA interference (RNAi) for human therapy, based on an advanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Rational and selective approaches will be taken to generate efficient RNAi reagents, and strategies will be developed for efficient delivery to cells and tissues of diseased organisms. RIGHT combines the strengths of 5 synergistic competence domains to reach this ambitious goal and overcome key technological barriers such as undesired interferon response and insufficient delivery, stability and targeting of RNAi to the appropriate cells. 1. The understanding of the molecular processes associated with RNAi and microRNA will be improved as a basis for the development of molecular strategies and tools enabling the successful application of RNAi for human therapy. 2. Improved inhibitors including RNAi mimics and potent delivery reagents will be chemically synthesized and extensively tested in cell culture and living organisms in order to increase sensitivity, specificity and cost-effectiveness and reduce side effects. 3. Potent viral or non-viral RNAi vectors will be generated and their features evaluated in relation to their chemical counterparts. 4. For the development of a drug, synthetic or genetic RNAi reagents will be assessed with pharmacokinetic methods, and extensive phenotyping of treated animals will be performed. 5. Selected disease models will be used for the paradigmatic assessment of RNAi as a therapeutic tool to generate RNAi leads for clinical tests. The RIGHT partnership of leading research institutions and biotech SMEs will deliver tools such as new enabling technologies, chemically synthesized and genetically generated inhibitors with efficient delivery properties. Within 4 years, the potential of RNAi to diagnose and successfully treat severe unvanquished diseases will be demonstrated and proof of principle provided for the value of RNAi as a therapeutic tool in living organisms.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: A multidisciplinary study to identify the genetic and environmental causes of asthma in the European Community
Acronym:   GABRIEL
Project summary:   Europe wide study to examine causes of asthma

Imperial College London and Munich University are to take the lead in a €11 million (£8 million) study to examine how genetics and environment influence the development of asthma in Europe.

The GABRIEL project, funded through an EC Framework 6 grant, involves over 150 scientists from 14 European countries, using the latest research across a variety of disciplines, including genetics, epidemiology and immunology, to identify key factors in the development of asthma.

Professor Bill Cookson, from Imperial College London, and co-ordinator of the study, said: “Asthma is the major chronic childhood illness in Europe. The cost of the childhood asthma to the European Community is more than €3 billion each year. Although effective therapies of mild asthma exist, the 10% of children with severe disease account for 60% of this expense. Even when treatment is effective, it is not able to cure the disease.”

“Asthma is due to a combination of genetic and environmental effects. It runs strongly in families. It was rare a hundred years ago, but is increasingly common in developed societies across the world. A rural environment is still strongly protective against the disease.” “We hope this study will help us identify just how genes and the environment cause the development of asthma. The hope is that we in GABRIEL will be able to identify both risk and protective factors, with the long-term aim of preventing the illness.”

Professor Erika von Mutius from Munich University and co-leader of the project added: “Previous studies have shown the causes of asthma are diverse with many genetic and environmental factors all potentially having an impact. Traditionally it has been hard to analyse all the genetic and environmental information but the latest developments in areas such as genomics and bioinformatics now allow us to make sense of huge and complicated datasets.”

As well as looking at genetic and environmental interactions, GABRIEL will study the molecular basis for environmental factors which can increase the risk of industrial asthma, identify the agents which protect strongly against asthma in rural and farming communities and use genetics, genomics and proteomics to discover novel genetic and microbial factors that cause or protect against asthma.

Professor von Mutius added: “One particular area we will be looking at is the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, a theory which argues a lack of exposure to microbes in early childhood may cause an increased risk of developing asthma and allergies. Earlier work has indicated this may be the case, but we hope the scale of GABRIEL will allow us to properly test the hypothesis and to identify the responsible agents.”

GABRIEL will also develop model systems to investigate the molecular basis of genetic and environmental interactions which influence asthma, and use these model systems to translate novel findings into means of prevention and treatment for asthma.

The project will test genetic factors in over 40,000 subjects with childhood or adult asthma, with data from environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, nutrition, allergen exposure and industrial agents.

Professor von Mutius has observed “This type of very large-scale study can only be carried out with International co-operation. We are most fortunate that we are able to carry out the GABRIEL project within Europe, with its wide diversity of environments and genes and yet its shared scientific heritage.”

Professor Cookson said that “GABRIEL would not be possible without European Community funding. It allows us to draw on the best of asthma and genetic research from many countries. The protective effect of a rural childhood indicates that asthma is a potentially preventable illness. We hope that GABRIEL will lead us to a clearer idea of what we may be able to use to prevent the disease from appearing”.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Live attenuated replication-defective influenza vaccine
Acronym:   Fluvacc
Project summary:   We propose to develop an intranasal vaccine against pandemic influenza, based on reverse genetics. This technology will permit to rapidly generate replication-defective strains from new emerging influenza viruses that are safe and effective. We will generate reassortant vaccine viruses containing the surface glycoproteins from emerging wild-type influenza strains and the internal proteins of a master strain lacking the NS1 gene . The efficacy and safety of the resulting vaccine strains will be evaluated in chickens and ferrets. In addition we will scale up our production technology based on Vero cells. To establishing a fast and efficient downstream process we will further develop and scale up our purification method on monolithic columns. Subsequently, after toxicological evaluation of the cGMP produced candidate vaccines, clinical studies will be performed in healthy volunteers. The complementary constellation, the quality of the partners, efficient project management and availability of the combined resources will enable to successfully reach the goals of this project. It will allow the SMEs to significantly shorten the time necessary for the preclinical development phase and will bring the proposed chimeric vaccine viruses a major step closer to a marketable stage. Therefore, the project will contribute to the integration of partners in European research networks and, by its highly innovative features strengthen the European research. Through the involvement of partners from the Czech republic and from Slovenia this project contributes to the integration of new member states. Due to the enormous market potential, significant earnings can be expected. The patents, virus strains and technologies generated through theseproject will allow the SMEs to negotiate significant upfront, licensing and royalties payments from pharmaceutical companies.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: EuroPathoGenomics: a Network of Excellence to Strengthen Genome Research on Pathogenic Microorganisms
Acronym:   EPG
Project summary:   The genomes of pathogenic bacteria offer clues about how to combat these microbes. To promote European research into this area, the European Union supports the Network of Excellence “EuroPathoGenomics” with 6.7 million Euro. This project, comprising 37 top-level laboratories from 13 different nations, is co-ordinated by the University of Würzburg under the direction of Professor Jörg Hacker. There is an urgent need for research in the field of infection diseases. The WHO estimates that diseases caused by bacteria or viruses are responsible for one-third of all deaths world-wide. Furthermore, many pathogens become increasingly resistant to available drugs and antibiotics. Up to now, the complete genomes of about 200 pathogenic microbes have been sequenced, and further sequencing projects are in progress throughout the world. Scientists hope to gain additional knowledge and insights into the processes by which microbes cause diseases. Innovations in diagnostic techniques and therapy, as well as the development of vaccines, are expected to come out of the research network. One of the major objectives of the network “EuroPathoGenomics” is to structure and organise the overwhelming mass of data coming out of genome research into microorganisms and their corresponding hosts. The aim is to detect interactions between host cells and both pathogenic and harmless microbes. The network brings together existing initiatives that investigate genomes of pathogenic microorganisms. The German network of expertise “PathoGenoMik”, which is located at the University of Würzburg, is integrated into “EuroPathoGenomics”, as well as the research networks “Génopole” and “Pathopole” in France, MICMAN in Sweden and Finland, and “Genau” in Austria. Another focus of the project is the establishment of the “EuroPathoGenomics Graduate Academy”. This virtual network brings together existing European graduate colleges. It provides young scientists a broad-based interdisciplinary study programme with a wide range of seminars, lectures, and practical workshops. It is hoped that the Graduate Academy will not only train young scientists but will enhance the exchange of knowledge between them, and improve communication within the network and the dissemination of expertise.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Reprogramming the immune System for the Establishment of Tolerance
Acronym:   RISET
Project summary:   Transplantation dramatically improves the survival of patients with end-stage failure of vital organs. However, as a direct consequence of the immunosuppressive drugs permanently required to prevent rejection, recipients have a significantly increased risk of infection and malignancies Moreover, these drugs are expensive, do not prevent long-term damage of the graft, and exert toxic effects outside the immune system. The induction of transplant tolerance, defined as permanent acceptance of the graft in absence of continuous immunosuppression, would be a major step forward Recent advances in post-genomic immunology suggest that this goal is achievable in a near future. Indeed, new biotechnology products have been shown to promote long-term transplant acceptance in pre-clinical models. RISET will focus on the translation of these advances into industrial development and clinical practice First, diagnostic tests to identify transplanted patients for whom immunosuppressive treatment could be safely minimized or withdrawn will be developed. These tests will be applied to patients under conventional treatment as well as to patients enrolled in pilot clinical investigations based on cellular products with potential for tolerance induction. Because of the nature of this research, effective communication with patient organizations and regulatory bodies will be organized, and related ethical and societal questions will be specifically addressed. In parallel, relevant models of tolerance will be used to identify new genes, molecules or cell types that will form the basis for novel diagnostics and therapeutic approaches. The exploitation of the knowledge created in RISET will be facilitated by the inclusion of several SMEs in the consortium and the creation of an industrial platform. In order to exploit innovative concepts emerging outside the consortium, RISET will be open to new industrial or academic partners for which a budget has been provisioned.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Curing autoimmune disease. A translational approcah to autoimmune diseases in the post-genomic era using inflammatory arthritis and myositis as prototypes and learning examples.
Acronym:   AUTOCURE
Project summary:   Objective: To transform knowledge obtained from molecular research particularly within genomics, into a cure in an increasing number of patients suffering from inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is used as a prototype since this disease offers unique opportunities to define and evaluate new therapies. State of the art and beyond: Development of the first generation of targeted therapies (anti-TNF and anti-IL-1) in chronic inflammatory disease used RA as the prototype disease after work from European investigators included in the current IP. This work demonstrated (i) that targeted therapies can be efficient and (ii) that cure is still not achieved, but is within reach through a strong international consortium covering translational research and molecular technology. Work plan: -Potential key molecular mechanisms determining the course of RA and myositis are defined from genetic studies in humans, from relevant animal models and from basic cell and molecular biology. - Predictors of disease development and therapeutic responses, enabling future individualised therapies, are developed with the help of our unique large patient cohorts and, biobanks.. - Development and evaluation of new therapies is performed using combinations of novel molecular tools and precise definition of disease phenotypes. Impact of the project: We aim to produce (i) an increased understanding of the causes of RA and myositis enabling better prevention; (ii) new potential targets for therapy in arthritis and myositis, which can be further tested in other rheumatic inflammatory diseases; (iii) a prototype system for translational research in Europe, enabling collaborative development of targeted therapies in many inflammatory diseases and enabling European SMEs to rapidly develop ideas and patents into targeted therapies in inflammatory diseases.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Genomics, mechanisms and treatment of addiction
Acronym:   GENADDICT
Project summary:   Addiction is a brain disease, common in Europe, with deleterious consequences on individual physical and psychological health, and serious societal and economic consequences through criminality and violence, decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs. In every family, in a lifetime one can identify someone who has suffered from addiction; alcohol, nicotine or illicit drug use affects many people. Over 20 years there has been little advance in the drug treatment for addiction, with most new treatments addressing physical drug withdrawal rather than treating drug craving and relapse. The contribution of genetic influences to addiction liability has been recently recognised but the identification of genetic risk factors and genes involved in the molecular basis of addiction is a new major challenge for the post-genomic era. This project is a collaboration between basic science groups, one SME and a leading biotechnology company devoted to human studies on the role of genes in complex diseases. This public-private partnership brings together a highly innovative genealogical led human genetics approach and a team of researchers with Europe¹s best genomic mouse models. The core of the research effort will be the identification of genes associated with drug addiction using an unbiased genome-wide approach. The strong environmental component in the etiology of drug addiction has presented a particularly difficult problem for genetic studies of this brain disorder in the past. The groups of this Consortium propose to meet this difficult challenge by combining powerful animal genetics and gene profiling strategies with a human genetic approach that is relatively resistant to environmental modifications of the drug addiction phenotype. Genes identified in this project will help to elucidate dysfunction of genetic pathways in the addicted brain and provide new targets for the development of novel therapies.

This integrated project started on 1 January 2005, and lasts 60 months. It involves 8 participants from 7 EU countries.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: New Electron Microscopy Approaches for Studying Protein Complexes and Cellular Supramolecular Architecture
Project summary:   In this project, three currently distinct research areas will be integrated to investigate the 3D structures of biological macromolecules (e.g. proteins): cellular tomography, electron crystallography and single particle analysis.
Title: The European Epigenetics Network
Acronym:   EPIGENOME
Project summary:   These two NoE proposals are to be merged into one NoE on epigenetics. This area has recently moved to the forefront of human genetics research by providing new insights into the regulation of genes. The resulting “EPIGENOME” project aims to unravel the basic mechanisms underlying epigenetic regulation and focuses on various aspects of chromatin dynamics, the histone code and nucleosomes remodelling.
Title: Targeting cell migration in chronic inflammation
Acronym:   MAIN
Project summary:   This NoE uses an extensive array of post-genomic techniques to study chronic inflammatory responses which is a major clinical problem; currently there are poorly selective drugs and many compromise the immune system.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: Network of European Brain and Tissue Banks for Clinical and Basic Neuroscience
Project summary:   This project aims at structuring and spreading excellence in collecting high quality human post mortem brain tissue and at fostering research in cellular and molecular bases of brain disorders. The project will establish standardisation of neuropathological and clinical diagnosis, quality control, tissue handling, safety and ethical issues for research projects dealing with clinical or epidemiological aspects of neurological and psychiatric diseases. These standards will be disseminated as the basis for using human post mortem brain tissue in investigation methods such as expression profiling or proteomics. Activities of training and exchange of neuroscientists in this topic are also planned. Therefore, this network is expected to have a major structuring impact by establishing the ground for trans-European brain tissue research banking and a clear definition of banking standards. The consortium unites 19 different banks/departments from countries throughout Europe including 2 Hungarian partners. The project includes two SMEs, the Netherlands Brain Bank and a German company, which will assist with project co-ordination.
Title: Strengthen and develop scientific and technological excellence in research and therapy of leukemia (CML, AML, MDS, CLL, adult ALL) by cooperation and integration of the leading national leukemia network
Project summary:   The networking on clinical trials in the fields of leukemia and breast cancer. Strong points of both are to target high impact cancers, to have the capability of collating existing national or international initiatives and to develop a very strong translational rationale.
Title: Special Non-Invasive Advances in Foetal and Neonatal Evaluation Network
Acronym:   SAFE
Project summary:   The project aims at establishing non-invasive markers for prenatal and neonatal diagnosis. The main objective is to use rare foetal cells and foetal cell-free DNA that are present into the maternal circulation for prenatal purposes. The network ambitions to open the possibility for new screening tools
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: European Vascular Genomics Network
Acronym:   EVGN
Project summary:   The planned network will bundle the scientific potential of the European vascular biology research by building a communication platform, data sharing, sharing research tools and introducing training and exchange programmes. The consortium plans to concentrate on three important determinants of the cardiovascular disease: endothelial dysfunction, plaque instability and therapeutic angiogenesis to recover ischemic organ function and reduce heart failure. Each of the three areas has potential for development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that will provide permanent benefit for patients. This project integrates post-genome research into the more established biomedical and biotechnological approaches to cardiovascular disease. The network assembles the necessary critical mass and promote multidisciplinary interaction by uniting 25 basic and clinical institutions. The management is of very good quality. 28 partners (2 SMEs; 1 Industry), of 8 EU Member States plus Switzerland, are involved in the project.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: A European Network for Integrated Genome Annotation
Project summary:   The subject of this network is genome annotation, which is the process of 'defining the biological role of molecules (DNA, proteins, etc.) in all their complexity'. A European Virtual Institute for Genome Annotation, a European School for Bioinformatics, and extensive dissemination activities will be included.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article  EMBL-EBI press release (PDF 49kB) 
Title: European Vigilance Network for the Management of Antiviral Drug Resistance
Acronym:   VIRGIL
Project summary:   The VIRGIL NoE will set up the first ever European vigilance network addressing current and emerging antiviral drug resistance and focuses on three pathogens (influenza and viral hepatitis B and C). However, the structure is approach- rather than pathogen- oriented, integrating several platforms addressing epidemiological studies, surveillance, optimisation of clinical management, pharmacology, basic research on the molecular mechanisms of resistance, including cell culture and animal models, host determinants, innovation and technology, spreading of excellence and training as well as the societal impact. The network could in the future be extended to new drugs and to other viral pathogens like HIV and herpes viruses (Herpes simplex, Varicella zoster, Cytomegalovirus). VIRGIL integrates 54 partners, mostly from Member States, and from Poland as well as Israel and Switzerland. Most are clinical, diagnostic and basic research departments, five are SMEs and one is a major pharmaceutical industry (BioMérieux). VIRGIL is likely to have high policy impact as a valuable contribution for the Community Network on the epidemiological surveillance and control of Communicable Diseases as well as for the Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan, currently under development.
Title: Translating molecular knowledge into early breast cancer management: building on the BIG (Breast International Group) network for improved treatment tailoring
Acronym:   TRANS-BIG
Project summary:   The proposal aims to build a tumour tissue collection and microarray analysis network to conduct three pilot studies for subsequent randomised prospective (non-drug) studies addressing the question, whether or not adjuvant therapies can be omitted from patients whose probability of developing metastatic disease is low. Strengths were considered the existence of an already established collaboration, the quality of the investigators, the impact on populations of the proposed objectives and its translational approach.
Additional project information:   CORDIS News article 
Title: Epigenetic plasticity of the Genome
Acronym:   EPIGENOME
Project summary:   These two NoE proposals are to be merged into one NoE on epigenetics. This area has recently moved to the forefront of human genetics research by providing new insights into the regulation of genes. The resulting "EPIGENOME" project aims to unravel the basic mechanisms underlying epigenetic regulation and focuses on various aspects of chromatin dynamics, the histone code and nucleosomes remodelling.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: Cancer Control using Populationbased Registries and Biobanks
Project summary:   The project proposes the setting up of a network of excellence that links established bio-banks with population registries and population epidemiology experts. The relevance of the project relies chiefly on the development of a useful linked platform that makes prized sample banks and population registries available for population-based molecular epidemiology projects
Title: European Molecular Imaging Laboratories
Project summary:   The objective of this application is to develop a NoE of European molecular imaging laboratories for early stage diagnosis as well as therapeutic and prognosis assessment of cancer. Major strengths of this application were considered: 1) the quality and multi-disciplinarity of the partnership, 2) the clinical evaluation of currently available probes to provide data which can only be obtained in a timely manner by such a critical mass of expert centres, 3) the training programmes.
Title: Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite
Project summary:   The recent successes in characterising genomes of Plasmodium sp. malaria parasites and their hosts provide a unique opportunity to advance fundamental knowledge and to develop novel strategies to control malaria. The size and complexity of this task require a concerted effort that no single laboratory, or even institution, has the resources or expertise to accomplish alone.Thus the leading groups involved in fundamental research in Europe join and co-ordinate their efforts in a virtual, multi centre-based 'European Malaria Research Institute'
Title: Cells into organs: functional genomics for development and disease of mesodermal organ systems
Project summary:   Very important life threatening or disabling diseases are the result of deficiencies of the mesodermal organ systems. Heart failure and strokes resulting from arteriosclerosis, kidney failure, muscular dystrophy osteoporosis, tumors and leukemia are caused either by defects in embryonic development of mesoderm containing organ systems or their function. The use of stem cells for cell and tissue replacement therapies holds great promise for treatment of degenerative diseases and injury. This approach depends critically on detailed knowledge of molecular and cellular events governing normal differentiation of target organs and tissue engineering. This project will mobilise and integrate twenty four top European groups in twelve top centers of excellence into the network for investigating development and disease of mesodermal organ systems. This task is beyond the expertise of any single research group, requiring intelligent use of the complimentary advantages of different vertebrate and invertebrate systems and combination of multidisciplinary skills. The 23 partners include groups from 7 Member States and Switzerland. SME participation is planned for a later stage of the project.
Title: Genetic testing in Europe - Network for test development harmonisation, validation and standardisation of services
Project summary:   The EuroGentest Network of Excellence focuses on the issues of harmonisation, validation and standardisation of genetic tests. It aims at improving the organisation and the harmonisation of external quality assessment/assurance schemes, at facilitating the development of guidelines and at supporting the accreditation/certification of the genetic services. The network tries to bridge a gap between research and diagnostics applications. It also intends to collect tools for the education of various stakeholders and to improve the quality of genetic counselling services. Substantial attention is paid to issues resulting from testing including legal, health policies and health economic impact, IPR (Intellectual Property Rights), ethical and social questions: confidentiality, informed consent, employment and insurance.
Additional project information:   Project website 
Title: Diagnostic Molecular Imaging
Acronym:   DIMI
Project summary:   The goal of the DiMI Network of Excellence is to integrate multidisciplinary research for the development of new probes and multimodal non-invasive imaging technology for early diagnosis, assessment of disease progression and treatment evaluation. The general objectives are to study non-invasively gene expression and function in major diseases such as neurodegeneration, stroke, heart failure, atherosclerosis and autoimmune diseases; to translate fundamental research discoveries into medical applications; to implement technology and training platforms

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Special Non-Invasive Advances in Foetal and Neonatal Evaluation Network
Acronym:   SAFE
Project summary:   The Special Non-Invasive Advances in Fetal and Neonatal Evaluation Network (SAFE) aims to implement routine non-invasive prenatal diagnosis and cost effective neonatal screening through the creation of long-term partnerships. The SAFE Network of Excellence will develop a series of measures to enable the rapid introduction of Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis (NIPD) and Neonatal Screening (NS) throughout the EU and beyond. At present NIPD, based on a pioneering observation that circulatory cell free fetal DNA is present in maternal plasma and serum, has already begun to impact clinical practice.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Acronym:   DC-THERA
Project summary:   Dendritic cell (DC) immune-biology has enormous potential for development of new immunotherapies for cancer and infectious disease. Europe possesses a critical mass of leaders in the field who have pioneered many innovative advances and provided initial proof of principle for the approach. This NoE, DC-THERA, will integrate the activities of 25 participant groups of scientists and clinicians and 6 high quality SMEs across Europe. It will incorporate additional groups, particularly from future member states, as Associated Members of the Network Their collective expertise and resources will be forged into an ambitious Joint Programme of Activities to restructure the field. It will translate genomic, proteomic and bioinformatic information, with knowledge from molecular cell biology and pre-clinical models, into therapeutic endpoints: clinical trials of DC-based therapies for cancer and HIV. Towards this end, four thematic S&T Clusters have been defined, with a fifth for horizontal activities. The latter includes development of synergistic links with other Networks, providing added value to EC Programmes by underpinning all projects developing new vaccine strategies for major killer diseases. The Network will implement an IT-based integrated knowledge management system and provide a centralised European resource of databases for the field. DC-THERA will develop new research tools, integrate existing and new technological platforms, recruit additional support staff, and make these available as shared resources for all partners It will implement an ambitious Education and Training Programme, including new PhD studentships, a Visiting Scholars Scheme, high quality training courses, and a postgraduate degree in translational DC immunobiology. DC-THERA will contribute to the European biotechnology sector and have a major impact on European policy-making for the future. DC-THERA will evolve itself into a Centre of Excellence for DC Biology,with a lasting and global impact.

Additional project information:   Project website 

Title: Biosimulation - A New Tool in Drug Development
Acronym:   BioSim
Project summary:   The multidisciplinary BioSim Network aims at strengthening the European competence in systems biology and biosimulation. The purpose is to illustrate how modelling and simulation through a more rational utilization of the available experimental and clinical information can contribute to a faster development of new, effective drugs. The Network involves 40 partners: 26 university groups, 9 SMEs, 4 regulatory agencies and 1 large pharmaceutical company. Several partners maintain close collaborations with other large pharmaceutical companies. The partners cover a wide range of activities, from systems biology, complex systems theory and pharmacokinetics to biochemistry, cellular biology, pharmacology, endocrinology, physiology and testing of new drug candidates. BioSim also includes hospital departments performing experimental treatments of depression, various forms of tremor, and cancer. This underlines the importance that the Network ascribes to a close collaboration between experimental and theoretical research groups. The Network has six main activity areas: communication with the public and collaboration with the regulatory agencies, methodological issues, diabetes, mental disorders, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Additional project information:   Project website  CORDIS News article 
Title: Task-force in Europe for Drug Development for the Young
Acronym:   TEDDY
Project summary:   The Task-force in Europe for Drug Development for the Young (TEDDY) is a Network of Excellence funded under the Sixth EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6). The project started in June 2005 and is expected to run until 2010. It involves 17 partners from 9 EU countries, Romania and Israel. The overall aim of TEDDY is promoting the availability of safe and effective medicines for children in Europe by integrating existing expertise and good practices, as well as stimulating further developments. Today, no more than 30% of marketed drugs in Europe can be considered safe and effective with respect to their paediatric use, as a consequence of insufficient efforts in dedicated biomedical research. This gap is rooted, on the one hand, in the complexity of scientific and ethical issues linked to the design and execution of clinical trials involving children, and on the other hand, on a perception of poor profitability which seems to prevent pharmaceutical companies from investing significantly in this sector. However, along with other age groups, children as well should benefit from breakthroughs in genomics, biotechnology, pharmacology and therapeutics. The European Legislator is developing a Regulation on medicinal products for paediatric use which is likely to improve significantly the current situation. Within this general institutional framework, and in synergy with other processes and actors, TEDDY wishes to dwell on the development of a new research matrix that integrates scientific domains, assesses the impact of findings and monitors policy implementation. TEDDY aims at optimising the paediatric use of current drugs and promoting the development of new drugs.

Additional project information:   Project website