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First European initiative on Grid Computing, Biomedical Informatics and Nanoinformatics

From the 1st June 2008 a consortium of seven European and Latin American partners has launched ACTION-Grid, the first ever initiative funded by the European Commission to analyse and link three areas: Biomedical Informatics, Grid technologies and Nanoinformatics.

The objective of the project is to exchange research results and foster collaborations in these three areas between Latin America, the Western Balkans, North Africa and the European Union (EU). In addition the project will support the European Commission in the elaboration of the Research Programme in a specific area, and will lead to a white paper on the topic. The project will run for 18 months and has a budget of around 1 million Euro totally funded by the European Union as part of the EU 7th Framework Programme.

Over the last decade the European Commission has pioneered initiatives to link clinical data and results from the Human Genome and other related projects, methods and tools in the area of Biomedical Informatics. Research on Genomic Medicine and Personalized Medicine opened up new challenges that have attracted numerous researchers and professionals. Similarly, Grid technologies have brought new approaches that promise to deliver the computational power needed for many demanding applications.

One of the main target areas of ACTION-Grid is Nanoinformatics in medicine. In such direction, ACTION-Grid is the first European Commission project addressing the development of Nanoinformatics, a novel informatics discipline, and its applications in (nano)medicine.

Here are some areas and examples in nanomedicine:

. Biopharmaceutics: the study of new drugs based on nanoparticles and the nanosystems designed for drug delivery within the cells

. Implantable materials: for tissue repair and replacement

. Implantable devices: nanodevices for actions such as restoring eye and earlost functions

. Nanosurgery: nano tools can be used to perform common surgical tasks

. Diagnostic tools: For instance, nano-systems for imaging that can help to identify as soon as possible the occurrence of a disease

. Understanding basic life processes

. Modeling and simulation using informatics approaches

. Databases of nanoparticles

For many diseases, nanomedicine promises solutions to improve dramatically current diagnostic methods and therapies. By way of an example, for cancer research, nanostructures are developed to recognize cancer cells and destroy each cell, individually. Although most prospective analyses hope to get clinical applications of these breakthrough technologies years ahead, Nanoinformatics can accelerate all the examples presented above, the processes involved in this research and their agenda.

In such direction, members of the ACTION-Grid consortium have already elaborated an automated Resourceome of informatics methods and tools in the NANO-BIO-MEDical areas that can be accessed by researchers and users. Such resourceome will facilitate access to these new technologies developed in the European Union to other professionals in Latin America, the Western Balkans and North Africa.

Finally, ACTION-Grid will deliver a White Paper for the European Commission,developed by a panel of international experts in the involved areas. It will analyse the future of BMI, Grid and Nanoinformatics in medicine and will propose steps for future actions and research programmes.

ACTION-Grid is coordinated by the Biomedical Informatics Group at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM). Other participants in ACTION-Grid are the Institute of Health Carlos III (co-scientific leader, with UPM, and led by Dr. Fernando Martin-Sanchez), Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Universidad de Talca (Chile) from Latin America, Forth (Greece), HealthGrid (France) and University of Zagreb Medical School (Croatia).

Eduardo Martínez | alfa
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