Viruses’ growing resistance to drugs means diseases such as hepatitis B and C are increasingly difficult to treat. New pandemics may arise with unforeseeable consequences. The EU is therefore contributing € 9 million to the “Vigilance against Viral Resistance” (VIRGIL) project, to be launched today in Lyon (France). It will start by addressing drug resistance in viral hepatitis and influenza, but will broaden its scope to other viruses. The network will be based on research and technological platforms to monitor existing, and anticipate future, drug resistance. One platform will monitor, test and improve the management of antiviral drug resistance in patients while another will show how resistance occurs and help understand patient-related (immune/genetic) factors causing viral resistance. Other platforms for drugs and pharmacology and for innovation and technology will allow anticipation of ways to rapidly overcome drug resistance. Finally, a societal impact platform will assess the network’s benefit for medicine and patients’ quality of life. VIRGIL, coordinated by Lyon’s INSERM research centre, will gather 55 key European field experts from 12 countries, including 7 partners from industry.
“The heavy use of antibiotics, particularly in hospitals, hastens mutations in bacteria which bring about drug resistance. The same happens in viruses when antiviral drugs are used extensively,” European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said. “VIRGIL complements a €30 million EU research investment into antimicrobial drug resistance over the past two years to address this growing problem. Through collaboration between European academic researchers, the pharmaceutical industry, clinicians and public health authorities the network will help overcome problems associated with viral drug resistance to help save lives.”
Killer diseases: on the rampage?
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