Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Better Quality Water – All Across Europe

20.11.2006
Helmholtz Centre coordinating EU Drinking Water Research Project

Potable water is our most important nutrient. We drink it every day. That's why it is even more important to know what sort of microorganisms are in the water we drink and what diseases these can cause in humans if they occur in sufficient numbers. Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig are now coordinating an EU project that is exploring this question.

With this "Healthy Water" project, the European Union is aiming to learn more about the quality of its water and apply this knowledge toward improving its drinking water guidelines. The project will run over a period of three years at a cost of € 2.4 million. It is financed by the European Union.

"The drinking water quality in Germany," says project coordinator, Dr. Manfred Höfle, "is outstanding." Unfortunately, this same degree of safe and potable water does not exist everywhere in Europe. That's why one key focus of the project is on high risk water sources and distribution systems. Another problem is that monitoring water resources for pathogen impurities is less than satisfactory. "We currently only determine one particular bacteria count," says Höfle," and that is E. coli. We know virtually nothing about the frequency of other bacteria, viruses, or so-called protozoa, which are single-cell animals."

Helmholtz scientists hope to test and develop further a new kind of chip they are working on with the other nine EU project partners from industry and the research community. The chip is designed to detect microorganisms that have not been empirically catalogued in the past. Dr. Höfle and his colleagues are building on their experience with the so-called "aqua-chip", which has already proved effective in detecting bacterial pathogens.

"What we now want to do is increase the number of pathogens we can detect and make the chip sensitive to viruses," explains Dr. Ingrid Brettar, one of the scientists involved in the project. This requires a great deal of sophistication because for bacteria and protozoa DNA is used as proof. Many viruses, on the other hand, store their genetic information on RNA molecules. "The chip," emphasizes Brettar, "must therefore recognize both DNA and RNA."

The new chip will be able to detect previously ignored germs in our drinking water. This ability will open up new opportunities for protecting humans from water-borne infectious diseases. "We suspect that contaminated water causes more illnesses than generally believed," says Dr. Höfle. But to find out which infectious diseases in Europe are induced by unhygienic water, the consortium of scientists involved in the EU project is not banking on the new chip alone. "We also intend to conduct a broad epidemiological study, sending questionnaires to doctors in specific parts of Europe to identify factors that could suggest a correlation between infections and unclean drinking water," Höfle explains. "So far, we do not have this kind of structured data in Europe," he notes. "We think this will give us some indication which pathogens we should pay particular attention to when developing the chip. In doing so, we hope to make a significant contribution toward improving the quality of drinking water in Europe."

Manfred Braun | alfa
Further information:
http://www.gbf.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht FAU researchers demonstrate that an oxygen sensor in the body reduces inflammation
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>