Navigation path

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia


   Infocentre

Published: 13 November 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesRare & orphan diseases
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Denmark  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Netherlands  |  Spain  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

MEET the next generation of mitochondrial researchers

An EU-funded project has trained a new generation of researchers in mitochondrial disease - a range of rare disorders emerging as a new field of medical interest. The research, which included the discovery of novel genes associated with the disease, is feeding into the search for better diagnosis and treatment for the disorder.

Photo of female scientist looking through a microscope

© science photo - fotolia.com

Mitochondria are tiny bodies in human cells that generate energy. When they fail to work properly, usually due to faulty genes, they can cause a wide variety of so-called mitochondrial diseases. There are many hundreds of such disorders which can affect several body systems and are extremely difficult to diagnose.

“These diseases are rare when taken separately, but as a subset of human illnesses they represent a substantial portion,” says Giuseppe Gasparre of the University of Bologna and coordinator of the EU-funded MEET project. “Unfortunately, cures have hardly been developed, and therapies mainly slow down fatal progression of the disease, or temporarily attenuate symptoms.”

The project’s researchers pursued several lines of investigation, both at a basic and a clinical level. Over a four-year period, they contributed to 40 research publications and there are more to come.

“The most immediate impact will be on diagnosis,” says Gasparre. “As a large fraction of patients have not yet received a genetic diagnosis for their mitochondrial disease, the discovery of novel disease-associated genes that MEET accomplished will aid genetic analyses and diagnostic procedures, and speed up therapeutic choice.”

MEET also aimed to advance understanding of mitochondrial disease by training a new generation of young researchers. The training focused on helping to bridge the gap between basic and applied research in mitochondrial medicine.

Working with patients

MEET supported 11 PhD students and three postdoctoral researchers through the EU’s Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie funding programme. With the aim of developing a European community of mitochondrial researchers, each fellow was based at one of the nine academic and industrial partners and also participated in an extensive programme of training and secondments.

Alongside the scientific training, the fellows learned how to write proposals for EU funding, commercialise research innovations and communicate scientific information. The latter was especially important as building links between researchers and patients was central to the project.

“Usually the patient is considered as someone external to research activities,” says project manager Serena Paterlini, who also supervised MEET’s outreach work. “On the contrary, the MEET consortium wanted to put patients in the centre. We brought researchers out from their labs and put patients into the labs. For many of our fellows it was the first time they really had contact with someone suffering from the diseases they were researching.”

The project has produced videos – some with a commentary in sign language – and a colouring book to help children understand mitochondrial disease. Patients and their families were invited to suggest project activities through the MEET website. And on their own initiative, the research fellows raised over €3 000 for the International Mito-Patients (IMP) charity to help develop a standard therapy for muscular pain in mitochondrial disease.

A diagnosis for better treatments

The MEET fellows now have the tools to build their own careers in academia or industry. “They know they had a great opportunity,” Paterlini says. “It was not a normal PhD programme but something extraordinary.”

Although the project has finished, the partners are seeking funds to continue the training. Unfortunately, says Gasparre, there is no specific programme to guarantee continuity for successful projects and the researchers that benefit from them.

“Four years may not be long enough to witness a young scientist blossom, and in the consortium’s opinion initiatives promoting continuity would be more than welcome,” he adds.

Project details

  • Project acronym: MEET
  • Participants: Italy (Coordinator), Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom
  • Project N°: 317433
  • Total costs: € 3 824 630
  • EU contribution: € 3 824 630
  • Duration: January 2013 to January 2017

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details


  Top   Research Information Center
 
Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia