Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

IRB Barcelona to coordinate two European projects on biomedicine

23.12.2008
The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) has been chosen by the European Commission (EC) to coordinate two European health research projects, as part of the second call of the VII Framework Programme.

This concession makes IRB Barcelona a leader in European projects in Spain, together with the Spanish National Research Council. In all, Spanish centres will be heading ten projects. The EC will grant IRB Barcelona funding of more than 5 million euros from 2009 to 2011. Malaria and diabetes will be the topics addressed by the consortia headed by the researchers Lluís Ribas de Pouplana and Antonio Zorzano.

DISARMING THE PARASITE THAT CAUSES MALARIA

The consortium coordinated by Lluís Ribas de Pouplana, ICREA researcher and head of the Gene Translation Laboratory at IRB Barcelona, will explore a promising line of investigation to find new anti-malarial compounds. The project, called Mephitis, is included in the call “Projects for diseases of the Third World in collaboration with laboratories in India”. Malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which is carried by some female Anopheles mosquitoes. Infection is via a mosquito bite, which introduces the parasite into our bodies, where it attacks red blood cells. At present, between 300 and 500 million infections are reported worldwide each year and more than a million people die from malaria every year, mainly children in Africa and Asia.

The project seeks to elucidate the formation of proteins in the parasite that are involved the transmission of malaria, with the aim to identify the key components that inhibit this process and allow the development of anti-malarial drugs. The rationale behind Ribas de Pouplana’s project is that "we now have enough knowledge about protein synthesis in organisms such as the bacteria E.coli or the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and we now want to transfer this knowledge base to organisms of medical relevance such as Plasmodium". This new strategy will provide crucial information to "fight effectively against the parasite".

Ribas has brought together experts from several fields: Plasmodium biology, protein synthesis processes, and advanced tools used in crystallography, bioinformatics, genome dynamics, transcriptomics and proteomics. The Combinatorial Chemistry Programme of the Barcelona Science Park, the centre that hosts IRB Barcelona, is managed by the researcher Miriam Royo and is one of the eight laboratories included in the consortium. In addition to the two groups in Barcelona, there are two from India, one from France, one from Italy, one from Portugal and one from Australia.

BIOINFORMATICS AND MOLECULAR MEDICINE, UNITED AGAINST DIABETES

Antonio Zorzano, head of the Molecular Medicine Programme at IRB Barcelona and senior professor at the University of Barcelona, will coordinate a pioneering project to fight against diabetes, a disease described as the epidemic of the XXI century. The MITIN Project is innovative because it will be the first time that bioinformatics is applied to obtain information about complex diseases such as diabetes, which is the result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors. "Systems biology", explains Zorzano, "can hold and integrate many data about a single disease and can reveal the existence of gene networks and interactions between proteins that are responsible for the key alterations in a disease".

The six groups that comprise the consortia seek to identify the processes that occur in mitochrondria – an intracellular organelle that transforms molecules from the food we ingest into energy -, and that are responsible for insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone generated by the pancreas and serves to allow glucose to enter cells. People who suffer from the so-called Insulin Resistance Syndrome generally present high levels of triglycerides (fats) in blood and low levels of healthy cholesterol. Furthermore, hypertension and obesity may be behind insulin resistance. This metabolic disorder increases the risk of suffering from diabetes and coronary disease.

To develop the project, Zorzano is supported by two expert groups in systems biology. One is from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, a facility that hosts the MareNostrum supercomputer, one of the most powerful in the world. This group will work on designing a computational programme that includes experimental data. The second group, from Finland, has expertise in the technique called lipidomics, which allows the determination of fat composition in body tissues and fluids. The four remaining laboratories, two in England, one in Germany and Zorzano’s own lab, will apply their experience to the study of insulin resistance and diabetes in two animal models, the mouse and the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), and to the manipulation of individual mammalian cells. "We will work at distinct levels of complexity and with two animal models to discover whether systems biology is a suitable approach to answer questions related to complex diseases. It is a huge challenge and if we obtain positive results, systems biology will become a key technique in future research into these types of disease", explains the project’s coordinator.

Sònia Armengou | alfa
Further information:
http://www.irbbarcelona.org

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Starting school boosts development
11.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht New Master’s programme: University of Kaiserslautern educates experts in quantum technology
15.03.2017 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nerves control the body’s bacterial community

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>