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Last Update: 2018-09-12   Source: Research Headlines
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Early warning for widespread and deadly diseases

EU-funded researchers are applying innovative techniques to detect early-warning signs of some of the most widespread and deadly diseases in Europe, enabling underlying health conditions to be treated sooner and more effectively, and ultimately saving lives.


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An EU-funded network of universities, hospitals and pharmaceutical and life sciences companies is studying an inflammatory condition associated with a variety of diseases. Their work on metabolic syndrome could lead to faster and more effective therapeutic approaches for diseases such as diabetes, which affects 33 million people in the EU, cardiovascular disease, which accounts for almost half of all deaths in the region, and cancer.

Metabolic syndrome occurs when the immune system is activated and produces damaging compounds that can cause excess fat molecules, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood to oxidise and become sticky – much like old cooking oil. Sticky fats, or lipids, can wreak havoc in the body, changing the function and behaviour of proteins, cells and even DNA.

The MASSTRPLAN team, including 14 early-stage researchers in six countries, is hoping to enhance methods to detect the presence of these oxidative molecules and identify the changes they cause as potential biomarkers for the early detection of harmful health conditions.

Using mass spectrometry – which enables molecules to be identified by their mass – and other analytical techniques, the researchers aim to lay the groundwork for the development of novel clinical tests to detect sticky lipids in the blood, in order to improve early-stage diagnosis of diseases linked to metabolic syndrome.

As part of an interdisciplinary training network funded by the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the MASSTRPLAN researchers will gain essential expertise in a range of cutting-edge techniques and technologies, supporting future European innovation in fields such as molecular analytics, biotechnology, bioinformatics and biopharmaceuticals.


Project details

  • Project acronym: MASSTRPLAN
  • Participants: United Kingdom (Coordinator), Portugal, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, United States Minor Outlying Islands, Switzerland
  • Project N°: 675132
  • Total costs: € 3 545 010
  • EU contribution: € 3 545 010
  • Duration: October 2015 to September 2019

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