Researchers in Sweden have identified a number of drug targets that can be used in the development of new efficient treatment strategies for fatty liver disease and liver cancer with minimum side effects. KTH the Royal Institute of Technology’s Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) research centre and Gothenburg University employed the biological networks generated for 46 major human tissues in order to identify the liver-specific gene targets. The researchers mapped the metabolic changes caused by accumulated fat in liver cells, and combined this data with an analysis of biological networks of liver and other human tissues. Doing so enabled them to identify the liver-specific drug targets whose inhibition will not cause any side effect to other human tissues, said lead author Adil Mardinoglu. Mardinoglu added that the team’s network modelling approach, which relied on data from the Sweden-based Human Protein Atlas project and The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project consortia, can be used in the identification of drug targets and eventually in the development of efficient strategies for treating a number of chronic liver diseases. The researchers identified liver-specific genes linked to NAFLD pathogenesis, such as pyruvate kinase liver and red blood cell, (PKLR), or to HCC pathogenesis, such as PKLR, patatin-like phospholipase domain containing 3 (PNPLA3) and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), all of which are potential targets for drug development. Mathias Uhlen, director of the Human Protein Atlas project and co-author of the paper, said: “I am extremely pleased that the resource created through the Human Protein Atlas effort has been used in the analysis of clinical data obtained from liver disease patients and that this analysis has led to the identification of liver-specific drug targets that can be used for treatment of this clinically important patient group.” The research has been published in Molecular Systems Biology, an EMBO press journal. The post New targets for fatty liver disease drugs appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Partners of the Cimu­lact (Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020) project, recently met at the University of Malta’s Valletta campus to discuss the future impact of citizens’ visions. Between October 2015 and February 2016, workshops were held in the 30 participating countries, in which 1,500 people attended. The result presented 170 visions, which were later processed and clustered. Various meetings were subsequently held, including an additional workshop in each country and a pan-European conference, which was attended by experts and European Commission programme officers. Based on the issues that the participants had raised, 23 research topics and 40 policy recommendations emerged from this process. These reflected citizens’ expectations, desires and concerns for the future of Europe. The 23 topics address the different challenges that European citizens face in their everyday lives, and specify how research may address these challenges. These include, for example, how to ensure equal and holistic health services for all; how to develop evidence-based personalised healthcare; how education can be a platform for social innovation and local development; and how to achieve smarter consumption. The project is based on the premise that open science is not just about making science available to people, it is also about engaging people in setting the direction for research. During the meeting in Malta, participants also discussed ways to increase citizen participation as a source of information for research, regularly solicit citi­zen feedback on projects and increase participatory practices. Professor Sandra Dingli from the University of Malta’s Edward de Bono Institute, who hosted the meeting, said: “It is interesting to see that three future visions gene­rated and prioritised by Maltese citizens clearly address some of the European Commission’s grand challenges, in particular those related to the environment, health and wellbeing.” Funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by the Danish Board of Technology (DBT) Foundation in Copenhagen, Denmark, the project aims to bridge the gap between citizens and policy makers. The post Project to address citizens’ visions appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Software funded by the EU to help immigrants access healthcare services in European countries has been tested for the first time in Spanish health centres. Researchers received €3.6m to develop the software, which can be used on laptops and tablets to respond to users’ questions in their native language, or to interpret hand gestures or facial expressions – and then explain what they mean. The software is tailored to target immigrants from the Middle East and north Africa. Leo Wanner, the researcher leading the KRISTINA project, said: “Migrants who arrive in European countries may not be familiar with the health system at all. “Our agent would be able to assess their problem based on their age, location, gender, and other things – so it can tell them in natural language where they need to go.” The programme reminds patients about medical check-ups and vaccinations. The software was tested this summer in Barcelona and Tarragona, Spain. A second prototype of the KRISTINA project focuses on elderly Turkish immigrants and Polish health aides in Germany. The software can have conversations in German and Turkish and share tips on managing dementia and eating healthy food. Wanner said the software tailors its assistance once it gets to know users. “If we have an elderly person greet the virtual agent in a bit of a depressed voice in the morning, it will recognise that and ask what is wrong. It will ask if they slept poorly or look for anything it can do to cheer them up. For example, it might remind them their family are coming to visit later that afternoon,” he said in comments to Horizon magazine. The KRISTINA project’s researchers said the software could be a way to improve health treatment and bring down costs for EU countries’ healthcare systems. The post Digital health tool tested to help immigrants appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
A new open-source service created by the OPERANDO project aims to protect user privacy online, increasing the power users have over the data they transfer to online service providers. The service is called ‘PlusPrivacy’ and offers a unified social networks privacy dashboard where the user can manage their privacy settings for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. There’s also a ‘single-click privacy’ that automatically sets all accounts to the most ‘privacy friendly values’. ‘Privacy-for-Benefit’ is still being developed but the plan is to create new business models which will allow users to partially trade their private data for ‘economic benefits’ — which could be the first step towards personal data as currency. Zeev Pritzker from Arteevo Technologies Ltd, one of the partners in the OPERANDO project consortium, said: “Typically this would be a discount given by a service/product provider. “PlusPrivacy will then get a small fee for brokering the deal that will be paid by the product/service provider.” According to Pritzker, the data traded with service providers via PlusPrivacy would be the same as data currently ‘given away’ every time a user logs in to services such as Facebook, Twitter or Google. Pritzker added: “While most users are not aware of it, [logging in with social media accounts] gives a third party access to their social network data. PlusPrivacy will prevent this — reminding the user to log in with email and password instead — while giving the user the option to log in with, say, Facebook and receive an economic benefit in exchange.” Pritzker emphasised that the exchange would only happen if people explicitly opt in. The post Online privacy tool to protect user data appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Most of the environmental impacts of lawn area establishment and maintenance result from the properties and production of soil substrate, according to a lifecycle assessment (LCA) case study.  In our living environment, green lawns are also sources of environmental impacts, especially when nicely managed. One might think that machinery would be the most important source of greenhouse gasses, but, on the other hand, lawns would be good targets for the circulation of nutrients in organic material as an alternative to peat. These aspects were the background of our approach. In the LCA case study, we analysed the environmental impacts of the establishment and maintenance of lawns, including the production and use of various soil substrates. Many materials can be used in the production of substrates for various landscaping purposes. Anyway, substrate material must be homogeneous, safe and applicable for the roots of the plant to adhere and grow. The substrate must not contain harmful compounds, products or organisms that endanger the health of lawn plants and must be safe to manage and use. We focused on comparing substrates with different peat and compost contents mixed with mineral soil in the substrate. The study included different composting materials (e.g. sludge and municipal biowaste) and composting methods (e.g. use of woodchips or peat as adhesive material). Lifecycle assessment methodology and ISO standards 14040 and 14044 were used in environmental impact assessments. Primary environmental impact categories, which we assessed, were climate change and aquatic eutrophication. We regarded the lifetime of lawn to be 20 years, and fertilisation of the establishment phase to endure for the first ten years. Carbon dioxide from peat degradation is regarded as fossil, and that from organic compost and woodchips as biogenic. A 20 cm thick substrate layer, which means two thousand tonnes of substrates per hectare of lawn area, were assumed to be needed when establishing a new lawn field. This is a large amount of material to be managed and moved. Climate impact of the lifecycle of lawn areas using different pilot substrates varied between 25 and 51kg CO2-eq/m2 lawn (in the lifetime of 20 years). Degradation of peat appeared to be the most significant factor of the influence of climate; the contribution of peat degradation was up to 80% of the total carbon footprint when amount of peat in the substrate was 44 kg/m2 lawn area. The percentage of compost to emissions was 38% in substrate, which contained 55 mass-% compost. Thus, the most effective means of reducing the impact of landscaping on climate is to replace peat with circulated organic material as compost. Nitrous oxide and methane emissions were related to the use of compost. There is the next challenge to develop treatment of compost to avoid these emissions. The significance of fuel consumption by machinery in lawn establishment and mowing was low. The high contents of N and P in compost-based substrates may lead in wet situations to nutrient emissions into water systems, which can have significant local impact. Local conditions must be considered when choosing raw materials for substrate. Lawn mowing, even with conventional machinery, does not have a significant climate change impact on the entire lifecycle of landscaping. New solar panel-operated lawn mowers would minimise this impact. We developed guidelines for comparing conventional and highly recycled material content lawns at various intensity levels and a calculation tool to optimise landscaping from an ecological perspective. Our developed LCA calculation tool helps to optimise soils substrate contents in order to manage the environmental impacts. Various organic materials in substrates can be compared by the tool on a case-by-case basis. This study was carried out in LIFE09ENV FI 00570 LCA IN LANDSCAPING project that was supported by the EU LIFE Programme. The post Smaller lawn footprints appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
An international research team has developed inks made of graphene-like materials for inkjet printing. New black phosphorous inks are compatible with conventional inkjet printing techniques for optoelectronics and photonics. Professor Zhipei Sun at Aalto University in Finland said: “Our inkjet printing demonstration makes possible for the first time the scalable mass fabrication of black phosphorous-based photonic and optoelectronic devices with long-term stability necessary for a wide range of industrial applications.” Scientists optimised the chemical composition to achieve a stable ink through the balance of complex and competing fluidic effects. The researchers’ work demonstrated the benefits of their novel technique by inkjet printing devices that take advantage of the properties of black phosphorous. Its semiconducting bandgap can be readily varied by engineering the number of atomic layers and can cover the visible and near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The researchers also demonstrated printed black phosphorous-based nonlinear optical devices that can be inserted into lasers to act as ultra-quick optical shutters, converting a continuous beam of laser radiation into a repetitive series of short bursts of light suited for industrial and medical applications, such as machining, imaging and sensing. In the study, black phosphorous was also able to act as an efficient and responsive detector of light. The new ink was developed by an interdisciplinary team of international researchers at Aalto University, University of Cambridge (UK), Imperial College London (UK) and Beihang University (China). The research was supported by the Academy of Finland, Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Nokia Foundation and the European Commission. The post Researchers print graphene-like materials appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
A European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)-funded network of researchers is developing innovative solutions to strengthen Europe’s communication systems. The solutions also aim to increase the systems resilience to terrorist attacks, natural disasters and hardware or software failures. Academics and industry experts in collaboration with governmental bodies are addressing the risks of network failure. They aim to introduce innovative methods to defend existing and future communication networks against disruptions, as well as supply operators and providers with recommendations on how to design and update networks. The research is being co-ordinated through the COST Action ‘Resilient Communication Services Protecting End-user Applications from Disaster-based Failures’ (RECODIS). The aim is to establish new techniques for risk management, anomaly detection and remediation mechanisms across a variety of applications including utility networks and cloud-based systems. RECODIS vice chair Professor David Hutchison, said: “RECODIS will further advance the understanding and development of resilience techniques that can be built into future communication networks and the systems and applications that they so critically serve. “By anticipating, planning, and coping with disasters, resilient systems can help make society more secure and much safer.” “COST funding provides for people-networking across the Action, including plenary meetings a few times each year, but also – this is very important – for the exchange of researchers between institutions and organisations in short-term scientific missions.” RECODIS builds on EU projects such as SECCRIT, SPARKS, and HyRiM. Resilience principles and mechanisms that underlie this work were previously investigated in the EU ResumeNet project. The post New solutions to safeguard communication networks appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
MedAware, a provider of algorithm-rich solutions for the detection and elimination of prescription errors, has announced that the company has raised $8m (~€6.8m) in ‘Series A’ funding. Investors participating in the round included BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), Gefen Capital, OurCrowd and Yingcheng City Fubon Technology Co. In addition, MedAware has received grants from Israel’s Innovation Authority and the BIRD Foundation, as well as from the European Commission as part of its Horizon 2020 programme, bringing the company’s total funding raised to date to $12m. The funding will be used to advance the company’s approach to identifying the most consequential medication mistakes, thus improving patient safety and saving lives. MedAware will leverage its patented software to perform a real-time evaluation of a prescribed drug against a specific and up-to-date patient profile. The company’s advanced machine-learning algorithms mine data to detect outliers in prescription behaviour that could potentially be fatal and immediately flag them as life threatening. Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, said:  “OurCrowd is proud to be investing again in MedAware, a company whose product is changing the way that medicine is prescribed. “The ability to ensure that prescriptions will heal rather than harm by utilising machine learning and big data analysis, is about as good as it gets in impact investing. It gives me goosebumps to realise that by investing in this revolutionary company we will indeed save lives.” MedAware intends to use the Series A funding to develop additional machine learning-enabled decision support solutions, as well as making ongoing product enhancements to cover more catastrophic types of errors. Gidi Stein, CEO of MedAware, said: “MedAware was purpose built around our commitment to patient safety. “Every catastrophic error we identify is a patient saved. Through this round of Series A funding we will be able to build on the successes we’ve achieved to date and scale our approach to protect physicians and their patients all over the world.” The post Project secures funding to eradicate prescription errors appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Accomable, the ‘Airbnb for disabled people’, is working with EU-funded project EuTravel to shape the future of accessible travel and enable those with a mobility issue to book ‘door-to-door’ transport across the EU. Working with major global distribution system (GDS) providers and transport companies, EuTravel will tap into existing mainstream IT travel reservation systems and sources of travel data to enable people to find and book complete door-to-door transport routes via multiple modes of transport, including air, rail, bus and ferry, to and from all countries within the EU, via a single platform. Managed by Inlecom, a management consultancy firm, EuTravel has collaborated with Accomable, the global platform for finding adapted hotels and vacation rentals for disabled and elderly people, to participate in the project pilot and identify the challenges faced by less mobile travellers, and to ensure accessible transport options are easy to find and book as part of the new system. Inlecom’s project support director, Yash Chadha, said: “Accessibility is at the heart of the EuTravel project. Our technology will make it easy for citizens of the EU and international visitors to travel across the single market, and to plan journeys which suit their individual needs. Key to this is ensuring the service is open to everyone, including disabled users and anyone with a mobility issue, which is why we’re thrilled to have Accomable onboard as consultants on accessibility.” Accomable’s CEO and co-founder, Srin Madipalli, said: “Our mission has always been to enable anyone to go anywhere, so we are delighted to be working with EuTravel project to ensure disabled people worldwide can research and book accessible transport across the EU with ease. “Our disabled customers are extremely aware of how difficult it is to plan accessible transport routes when travelling at home and abroad, as online information is often incorrect or out of date. Our role will be to consult EuTravel project towards delivering a solution that contains full accessibility information you can trust.” The post Project to assist travel for the disabled appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Dr Maria Asplund, junior professor Dr Lena Henningsen, and Professor Dr Lars Pastewka of the University of Freiburg, Germany, have been chosen to receive funding from the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC has presented the researchers with a starting grant of just under €4.5m for new projects. Asplund, of the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK), is receiving almost €1.5m for the project ‘SPEEDER’. Electrical fields can control how cells move at the edges of a wound, and thus influence how well skin injuries heal. However, there has not been a material suitable for use to stimulate the cells. The SPEEDER project aims to develop a supercapacitive polymer that can store and release a particularly high amount of energy, enabling electrical fields to be maintained over an extended period of time. The researchers are planning to incorporate the material as active components in an electronic dressing. This could be used in severe cases to speed up the healing process and prevent the wound becoming chronic. Henningsen, of the Institute of Chinese Studies, is also receiving a grant of almost €1.5m for her project ‘The Politics of Reading in the People’s Republic of China (READCHINA)’. READCHINA will use the perspective of reading practices to investigate the intellectual, literary and societal transformation that has taken place in China since the 1940s. Pastewka of the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) is also receiving an ERC grant of almost €1.5m for his project ‘Emergence of Surface Roughness in Shaping, Finishing and Wear Processes (ShapingRoughness)’. Detailed knowledge of why surfaces are rough is presently lacking. Pastewka will use computer simulations to study microscopic processes during mechanical deformation to discover the mechanisms underlying formation of roughness and predict specific topographies of machined surfaces. The post Freiburg researchers receive ERC funding appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.