Important legal notice
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Communicable diseases
Communicable diseases - Focusing on neglected killers
“To focus on the development of novel diagnostics and antivirals to reduce the threat of a SARS epidemic.”

The problem

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) causes a highly contagious pneumonia. Recent studies have shown that some people may be infected with SARS but show no overt symptoms. These people act as possible carriers of the disease, making the chances of another SARS breakout in the future probable. Rapid transmission and high mortality rates make SARS a potential global threat. At present, there are no effective drugs to treat the SARS virus – vaccines and diagnostic tests are still being developed.

SEPSDA  New antiviral drugs and diagnostics to tackle SARS


SEPSDA is a Sino-European project that will apply biotechnology to develop improved diagnostic tests and generate potential therapeutic compounds.

The project will:

  • Undertake serological studies to develop diagnostic tests that are sensitive to lower viral loads
  • Analyse the genome and proteome of the SARS virus to determine genetic variability and identify potential therapeutic agents
  • Determine the 3D structure of SARS proteins in order to screen compound databases for molecules that inhibit viral function
  • Develop therapeutic antibodies that may block virus entry into the host cell

Contribution to policy development:

  • A strengthened surveillance of SARS allowing the public health authorities more time to coordinate a response
  • Improved control of the disease enabling medical personnel to treat and contain a SARS breakout
  • Enhanced understanding of the factors influencing infectiveness and their impact on disease management
  • Improved links between European and Chinese centres will facilitate exchange of information and provide access to SARS strains prevalent in China

Project deliverables

  • Genome and proteome analysis – by month 36
  • Expression of 10 SARS viral proteins – by month 12
  • Crystallisation of 10 SARS viral proteins – by month 24
  • Generation of 50 lead compounds with anti-SARS activity – by month 36
  • Generation of 1to 2 antibodies with therapeutic potential – by month 36
  • Development of different types of SARS test kits – by month 36


  • The data collected will be made available through an industrial platform, a secure website which will form the basis for information exchange between the consortium and the pharmaceutical industry
  • A database will be set up for each section of the project for use by all participants contributing to that area
  • Scientists who become members of the industrial platform will also have access to the data

Technical information

Project acronym: SEPSDA
Project’s official full title: Sino-European Project on SARS Diagnostics and Antivirals
Research priority: 2. Providing health, security and opportunity to the people of Europe
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 003831
Start date: Not available
Kick off meeting: Not available
Completion date: Not available
European Commission scientific officer: Cornelius Schmaltz (

Name: Institut fűr Biochemie, Universität Lűbeck
Abbreviated name: IFBL
Address: Lűbeck
Country: Germany
Tel: +49 451 500 40 60
Fax: +49 451 500 40 68


Name: University of Aarhus
Abbreviated name: UAAR
Country: Denmark

Name: BioInfoBank Institute, Polish Academy of Science, Poznan
Abbreviated name: BIB
Country: Poland

Name: Euroimmun AG, Lűbeck
Abbreviated name: EUAG
Country: Germany

Name: Tsinghua University, Beijing
Abbreviated name: TLSB
Country: China

Name: Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Science
Abbreviated name: SIMM
Country: China

Name: National Centre for Clinical Laboratory, Beijing
Abbreviated name: NCCL
Country: China

Name: Beijing Genomics Institute, Chinese Academy of Science
Abbreviated name: BGI
Country: China