Important legal notice
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Health - Taking the temperature of European healthcare
“To understand the transmission and pathogenicity of avian influenza virus at a molecular level so as to promote the development of diagnostic tools.”

The problem

Recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) have received widespread publicity. The spread of this ‘bird flu’ virus in poultry and wild waterfowl throughout Asia, Europe and Africa has been associated with several hundred transmissions to humans, causing death in more than 50% of cases. The virus has also spread to other mammals including cats. If the virus acquires the capacity for easy transmission among humans, the medical and economic consequences could be devastating. Effective diagnostic methods, a vaccine and new antiviral drugs are urgently required.

EUROFLU  Molecular studies to combat avian flu


EUROFLU will study the molecular mechanisms underlying the virulence, host specificity, inter-species transmission and pathogenicity of HPAIV.

The project will:

  • Investigate the factors that allow the virus to infect specific host cells
  • Examine the replication of viruses within infected cells
  • Analyse real infections using chickens and mice as model organisms
  • Promote the development of effective diagnostic tools, anti-HPAIV vaccines and drugs

Contribution to policy development:

  • EURO-FLU will form an interdisciplinary consortium of experts to advise policy-makers on ways to develop effective strategies to combat the threat of avian influenza.
  • It will supply research results required to assist the funding decisions of policy-makers.
  • The project will provide insights promoting new tests, drugs and vaccines to support anti-influenza policy structures.

Project deliverables

  • Development of chicken and mouse model systems to study viral transmission and pathogenicity – October 2007-December 2009
  • Identification and characterisation of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses and their molecular mechanisms of cell recognition – from September 2008
  • Results of studies of molecular factors most likely to be useful in diagnosis, vaccine development and anti-viral therapies – December 2009
  • Final report and recommendations – December 2009


  • Project website, brochures and press releases – from January 2007
  • Publication of results in scientific journals – as available
  • Presentations at international scientific meetings – as opportunities arise
  • Direct dissemination to key contacts in the pharmaceutical industry and politicians – as appropriate

Technical information

Project acronym: EUROFLU
Project’s official full title: Molecular Factors and Mechanisms of Transmission and Pathogenicity of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus
Research priority: Health determinants and the provision of high quality and sustainable health care services and pension systems (in particular in the context of ageing and demographic change)
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 044098
Start date: 1 January 2007
Kick off meeting: January 2007
Completion date: 31 December 2009
European Commission scientific officer: Cornelius Schmaltz,

Name: Justus-Liebig Universität
Abbreviated name: JLU-IMV
Address: Institute for Medical Virology, Frankfurter Str. 107, D-35390 Giessen
Country: Germany
Tel: +49 641 99 47750
Fax: +49 641 99 41209


Name: Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal
Abbreviated name: CReSA
Country: Spain   

Name: Friedrich-Löffler Institut
Abbreviated name: FLI
Country: Germany

Name: Georg-Speyer-Haus
Abbreviated name: GSH
Country: Germany

Name: IBEX – International Biotechnology Experts Ltd.
Abbreviated name: IBEX
Country: Israel

Name: Institute of Virology
Abbreviated name: IV-SAS
Country: Slovakia

Name: RiNA Netzwerk
Abbreviated name: RiNA
Country: Germany

Name: Robert Koch-Institut
Abbreviated name: RKI
Country: Germany

Name: Tel Aviv University
Abbreviated name: TAU
Country: Israel

Name: University of Ioannina
Abbreviated name: UniIoannina
Country: Greece

Name: Universitätsklinikum Münster
Abbreviated name: ZMBE
Country: Germany