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Companies and academics from across Europe are coming together in a new EU project to tackle non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The €34m initiative is aimed at developing new diagnostic tests to assess patients with NAFLD and detect those most at risk of developing severe inflammation and liver scarring. NAFLD, which is associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes, occurs when fat builds up in the liver cells, leading to inflammation, scarring of the liver, and ultimately cirrhosis. It affects 20-30% of the global population, but fewer than one in ten will come to harm as a result of the condition. Identifying who will be most severely affected and progress to liver cirrhosis or cancer means that appropriate care can be provided earlier. However, this can currently only be done via liver biopsy in a specialist hospital. ‘Liver Investigation: Testing Marker Utility in Steatohepatitis’ (LITMUS) will therefore seek to develop, validate and quantify better biomarkers for testing NAFLD. To this end, the project brings together clinicians and scientists from academic centres across Europe and companies from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). It is funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI) Joint Undertaking and co-ordinated by Newcastle University, UK, in close collaboration with pharmaceutical company Pfizer Ltd. “Lack of easy and accurate diagnostic tests means that many patients go undiagnosed until late in the disease process,” explains Newcastle’s Professor Quentin Anstee, the co-ordinator of the LITMUS consortium. “It has also held back efforts to develop new medical treatments for NAFLD. “Availability of better diagnostic tests will help us to target care at an early stage of disease to the people who are going to be most severely affected. It will also help us to develop more effective medical treatments for NAFLD and to run the clinical trials that the regulatory agencies need so that they can license these medicines to be prescribed by doctors.” The 47 partner-strong consortium also includes the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg, which will be responsible for collecting and storing the biological samples used in the study. LITMUS will run until the end of October 2022. The post EU project takes on liver disease appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Horizon 2020, which intends to invest €77bn in research and innovation projects between 2014 and 2020, is one of the largest R&D funding programmes in the world. The scheme accounts for 8% of the EU budget. H2020 aims to create €400bn of socio-economic benefits by 2030, however it is being pressured to show that there is an immediate impact. Since 2014, the scheme has given more than 15,000 grants, including €45m in research projects to address the Zika virus outbreak, and €5m to develop a heart valve. Currently, around €27bn has been invested. Pascal Lamy, president emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute, conducted an interim evaluation this year of H2020 and concluded that the programme was providing value, as well as calling its research council a “beacon of scientific excellence”. However, the Financial Times suggest that funding is a problem for the programme as H2020 would like to fund more projects than it currently does. European Parliament supporting the increase of allocation to €129bn after 2020, however it is expected that budgets may come under pressure after Brexit. Lamy said: “Europe’s innovation deficit does not stem from a lack of ideas or a lack of start-ups. Our problem is the lack of scale-up. “We have to invest in and promote innovative ideas that can be rapidly scaled up.” He also called for H2020 to support projects which aim to build the first quantum computer, or raise the cancer cure rate to three in every four. He added that these goals would establish a connection between the public and scientists. Meanwhile, William Amos, a professor of zoology at Cambridge University, UK, expressed concern in that funds are being directed towards exciting projects at the expense of blue-sky research. The scheme’s priorities for 2018-2020 were updated last month in order to focus on supporting market-creating innovation. The post The spotlight on Horizon 2020 appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Israel-based Australian battery-technology company UltraCharge has signed a Joint Collaboration Agreement with Dotz Nano to integrate graphene quantum dots (GQDs) in anode technology for lithium-ion batteries. The agreement will see the two companies enter into a three-month pilot co-operation programme to develop longer lasting, faster charging and more dependable technology utilising GQDs. Dotz Nano’s CEO Dr Moti Gross said: “Dotz Nano GQDs have added value for a variety of applications and with this agreement we are continuing to expand our reach into the energy storage market. “It’s good to work with another ASX listed company, with whom we have good co-operation and who are also innovators in their field.” The collaboration agreement is expected to find synergies in several business areas with Dotz Nano now becoming involved in the LIB anode market, and UltraCharge obtaining exposure to the LIB cathode market. It is also expected that Dotz Nano will supply its optimised GQD products to UltraCharge, cultivating the latter’s anode product offering. GQDs quantum dots are semiconductor nanoparticles or nanocrystals, usually in the range of 2-10 nanometres (10-50 atoms) in size. Their small size and high surface-to-volume ratio affects their optical and electronic properties and makes them superior in application compared to larger particles made of the same materials. Crucially for UltrCharge, GDQs enable superior benefits to finished products and applications UltraCharge will be manufacturing in future i.e. lithium batteries. The post UltraCharge seeks graphene-enabled lithium enhancements appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Sweden-based biotech company Symcel has secured just over €3.5m in Horizon 2020 funding to support the evaluation of improved combination testing of antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria in sepsis patients. The project will last for 28 months with a consortium of academic and clinical key opinion leaders from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain; Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy; Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark; and IHE, Lund, Sweden. Jesper Ericsson, CEO of Symcel, said: “The spread of multi-resistant bacteria is one the most severe risks globally to human health. The world is on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era where[in] the healthcare community faces certain harmful bacteria that are resistant to all known drugs. “Consequently, little can be done to treat the critically ill patients concerned. There is a large unmet need for a technology like calScreener™ that measures the metabolism of bacteria. The only way to really be sure an antibiotic is effective in killing bacteria. The prospective clinical validation is a great opportunity for Symcel.” A recent WHO report titled ‘Antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis’ confirms a severe lack of new antibiotics under development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. Dr Suzanne Hill, director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO, said: “Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of severe infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defence.” SymCel was founded in 2004 by Dr Dan Hallén and Professor Ingemar Wadsö (Kemicentrum, Lund University) and now provides a novel cell-based assay tool for real-time cellular bioenergetics measurements. Symcel´s screening technology will be validated as a new surrogate method to correctly and rapidly determine which antibiotics really work against multi-resistant bacteria. The post Symcel secures H2020 Phase II grant appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The European Innovation Council (EIC) should support breakthrough innovation for the benefit of all, the independent High-Level Group of Innovators has said. The group – which comprises successful innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from across the EU – has also recommended that all relevant EU funding schemes are brought into a single, fit-for-purpose ‘one-stop shop’ for innovation financing. This would involve major reforms to introduce excellence, flexibility and agility (for example to combine grant financing with venture capital investments). Carlos Moedas, commissioner for research and innovation, said: “This first set of key recommendations is a substantial contribution to the current debate on a future European Innovation Council. They come at a critical time in the preparations for the next EU programme and provide very clear views on what is needed for Europe to lead on breakthrough innovation.” Dr Hermann Hauser KBE, co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners and chair of the group, added: “It is my great pleasure to present our first set of recommendations on how to make Europe the global leader for breakthrough market-creating innovation. To that end, Europe must set up a European Innovation Council as a key pillar of the next EU framework programme, to focus on excellence even where there is high risk, to empower innovators, to provide them with simple yet powerful tailor-made financial support from start-up to scale-up, and reinforce the EU innovation ecosystems.” The High-Level Group of Innovators, which launched at the beginning of the year, is now preparing a full set of recommendations for its next meeting in January. These will feed into the preparation of the commission’s proposals for the ninth research and innovation framework programme, to be presented by mid-2018. The creation of a European Innovation Council forms part of the commission’s Start-up and Scale-up strategy. The post Experts urge reforms for EIC appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Research by the University of Leicester, UK, into alternatives to conventional batteries has been boosted by funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. Professor Karl Ryder and Professor Andy Abbott from the Materials Centre in the Department of Chemistry have won EU funding for a blue-skies project aimed at developing a new and revolutionary type battery based on aluminium and sulphur. The project SAlBAGE (Sulphur-Aluminium Batter with Advanced Polymeric Gel Electrolytes) is a consortium of EU universities and a battery testing company. The total value is €3m of which €545,000 will go to Leicester. The project aims to deliver a new type of battery based on more abundant, cheaper and safer aluminium (rather than lithium). The project is funded under the EU (Horizon 2020) Future Emerging Technologies scheme which is the most competitive of the EU funding mechanisms. This award is the first of its type for the University of Leicester. In the SAlBAGE Project, a new secondary Aluminium Sulfur Battery will be developed. An aluminium negative electrode will be combined with a sulfur positive electrode including the unprecedented use of redox mediators, to facilitate sulfur reaction kinetics and boost performance. The new battery is expected to have a high energy density (1000Wh/kg) and low price compared with the current Li-ion technology. Ryder, from the university’s Department of Chemistry, said: “We have been working towards this for a while now with projects in metal ion chemistry in new and novel types of ionic liquid electrolytes.  The Leicester group is well known in the academic community as well as in the materials finishing industry, as a source of expertise for ionic liquids. That is our role here.” Abbott, also from the Department of Chemistry, added: “Our recent involvement with other European projects in battery chemistry and recycling, PolyZion and CoLaBATS, has increased our profile in energy research and we are members of the Energy Research Accelerator.” The post Research into revolutionary battery technology appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The first patient has been implanted with a drug delivery system developed by Renishaw for a study investigating it as a delivery method for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The procedure was performed at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and represents the beginning of a joint clinical study between Renishaw and Herantis Pharma. Paul Skinner, general manager for Renishaw’s Neurological Products Division, said: “Renishaw’s drug delivery system could be revolutionary in improving treatment options for Parkinson’s disease. “The system enables the delivery of large drug molecules, such as cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF), directly into the brain – circumventing the blood-brain barrier. “The drug delivery system consists of four catheters which, during the procedure, are accurately implanted into the patient’s putamen, one of the key regions of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease,” Skinner continued. “The catheters converge in a port mounted to the skull behind the ear, through which drugs will be administered on a monthly basis as part of the study. “The system can also be used with other new drug candidates that need to be delivered to precise areas of the brain, which could be crucial in the development of treatments for this and other debilitating diseases.” This clinical study, which has received funding from Horizon 2020, will involve 18 volunteers across three sites – two in Sweden and one in Finland. It will evaluate the safety and tolerability of the drug delivery system and CDNF, a large molecule that could slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, improving the quality of life for patients and prolonging their lives. Following this study, it is hoped that Renishaw’s delivery system will be used in clinical trials for other neurological disorders. The post First patient implanted with drug delivery system appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
15 partners from six EU countries have launched a three-year long Horizon 2020 project set to transform local transport. The PoliVisu project, aimed at transforming local transport systems, will make transport more optimised, resilient and citizen-centric by working with the cities of Ghent, Belgium; Pilsen, Czech Republic; and Issy-les-Mouluneau, France. PoliVisu will promote data-driven policy making as a solution to urban mobility challenges, such as congestion, parking and the inadequacy of transport infrastructure. PoliVisu’s framework envisions agile policy making as a continuous process consisting of three cycles: Design, reconciling different stakeholders’ views and facilitating experimentation of policy scenarios through data visualisation; Implementation, going beyond policy execution by including frequent communication activities coupled with reaction monitoring on social media; and Evaluation, assessing policy impact on environment, mobility, financing and citizen welfare using a range of evaluation techniques. Geert Mareels, PoliVisu co-ordinator, said: “Clearly the project has an ambitious vision and a correspondingly high potential to realise it while delivering multiple benefits to a variety of stakeholders.” He added: “There will be financial benefits for public administrations and logistics companies; business opportunities for consultancy and IT firms; greater policy acceptance among citizens; improved quality of life and more opportunities to innovate thanks to the availability of new data, knowledge and tools. “We invite cities in Europe and beyond to join us on this exciting new journey.” The PoliVisu project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The post PoliVisu project consortium celebrates launch appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The UK-based €1.2m MagnaPharm project, funded under the Horizon 2020 ‘Future and Emerging Technologies’ programme, aims to improve the efficiency of pharmaceutical compounds by crystallising them in high magnetic fields. The ability to do this would have a transformative effect on almost all pharmaceutical compounds, making them more effective in terms of getting into the bloodstream quicker. MagnaPharm builds on the discovery by Dr Simon Hall’s group at the University of Bristol, UK, School of Chemistry that organic crystal growth can be controlled using magnetic fields. Hall said: “The application of magnetic fields to intentionally control variations in the crystal structure of pharmaceuticals is entirely novel and opens up the possibility of producing drugs which are more effective. “One can imagine, for example, being able to take a lower dose of a drug to get the same effect, or even to enable new drugs which have stalled in development due to solubility issues, to come to market.” The new laboratory, one of only few of its kind in the UK, features four high-field electromagnets to enable crystallisation experiments. With these electromagnets, Bristol will be able to act as a high-throughput screening centre for all the pharmaceutical targets under investigation. The project initially targets 12 of the most high-profile, high-worth generic drugs with the aim of uncovering new crystal forms. The post UK project controls organic crystal growth with magnets appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics met with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong on 13-14 November 2017 to discuss education, culture, youth and sport. It was on the occasion of the 4th EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue in Shanghai. The dialogue was launched in 2012 to build trust and understanding between the peoples of the EU and China. This year’s exchanges focused on culture, but education, gender equality, youth and, for the first time, sport were also discussed. Following the meeting, Navracsics said: “The EU and China increasingly share global responsibilities. We work together on complex issues, from fighting poverty and tackling climate change to boosting trade and security. We build on shared views but sometimes we need to bridge differences. Promoting mutual understanding and respect between our people and cultures is therefore today more important than ever if we want to succeed.” Over the past decade the EU and China have closely co-operated in the areas of education, training, culture, multilingualism and youth through sector-focused policy dialogues. The two parties took stock of progress achieved under Erasmus+ mobility actions. Since 2015, more than 4,000 students and staff have already benefitted from the programme. Additionally, with over 70 universities participating in the action, China remains the top beneficiary of capacity-building projects among partner countries, contributing to the modernisation and internationalisation of China’s higher education system. In research and innovation, following the outcome of the 3rd China-EU High Level Innovation Cooperation Dialogue held on 2 June 2017, both parties agreed to boost researchers’ mobility through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. In the framework of the dialogue on gender equality, both sides discussed how to improve women’s economic empowerment and work-life balance. The post EU-China strengthen co-operation appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.

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