Research is now being carried out in the following
- diseases of genetic origin
- chronic and degenerative diseases
- cancer, cardiovascular diseases and
- infectious diseases and multidrug resistance
- applying new knowledge of the function
of genomes in both humans and certain pathogenic organisms, e.g.
by genetic programming of human cells to combat cancer and viral
- earlier, improved, non-invasive diagnostics
- new vaccines, e.g. for AIDS
- new gene- and cell-based therapies
- new biological sources of medicines
new quality and safety controls for drugs,
including alternatives to animal experimentation
It is always better to prevent the onset of illness.
A cleaner environment, better eating habits, healthy lifestyles
and the early diagnosis of common diseases will all reduce healthcare
costs and lead to a better quality of life.
New prophylactic vaccines are being developed,
especially for infectious diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis,
hepatitis and malaria (see the leaflet Communicable
diseases: a global emergency), and for allergies, too.
A better understanding of the impact of the environment
on health is needed, and of the diet-related risk factors that contribute
to chronic disease. More sensitive tests to detect toxic contaminants,
such as BSE, will lead to safer food.
The number of people over 65 in Europe is forecast
to double by 2025. Age-related diseases, such as Parkinsons
and Alzheimers, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and cancer are
all likely to increase dramatically.
Around 5% of all Europeans over 65 suffer from Alzheimers
disease alone. New methods are currently being investigated to prevent
or delay neuronal death, which is what happens in neurodegenerative
diseases such as stroke, Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
Similarly, investigation into the genetic factors predisposing to
rheumatoid arthritis should allow a breakthrough in the understanding
of the mechanisms behind this crippling disease, leading to better
Air pollution: a European study (APHEA)
The APHEA project involved the study of
the short-term effects of urban air pollution in 15 European
cities. The results, based on statistics regarding pollution
levels, showed that pollutants had a real effect on deaths
due to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
A possible new vaccine for malaria
Up to 500 million people a year are affected
by malaria and the numbers are increasing. Treatment
is also becoming more difficult. In one project, a promising
new antimalarial vaccine has been evaluated under real
life conditions in West Africa.
||A field worker examines
slides for malarial parasites.