Dataflow from lab to factory – networking pathogen research
Menaggio – Out of the ivory tower straight into applicational research – that was the guideline for the second funding round initiated by the European ERA-NET Patho-
GenoMics network, which has been operating since 2004 as a part of the EU’s FP6 programme. After a recent kick-off meeting in Italy, 13 new transnational research consortia from Germany, Austria, Finland, France, Hungary, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain have now started work. The partners are focusing on specific groups of pathogenic microorganisms, including the bacterial genera Neisseria, Pseudomonas, Clostridium, Helicobacter, Escherichia, Streptococcus and Chlamydia, as well as the fungal genera Aspergillus. They now complement twelve other research consortia that were granted a14m in a first funding round started in 2007 (see www.pathogenomics-era.net).
“In the field of pathogenomics, basic researchers too often work isolated within their networks, although contact with clinicians and companies is extremely important,“ says Julio Barbas from the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation. “We are very lucky that a range of consortia have positioned themselves in that direction,“ points out Marion Karrasch from the German funding agency PTJ, which is coordinating ERA-NET PathoGenoMics. A total of a17m will be allocated by the participating countries over the next three years. “All of the projects in the second round are taking interesting approaches. We expect some exciting results,“ says Guido Grandi from Novartis Vaccines, one of the experts in the scientific advisory board of ERA-NET PathoGenoMics.
One of the newly-funded projects, for example, is a consortium led by German scientists from the University of Würzburg, who are working together with British pharma company GlaxoSmithKline to lay the groundwork for new vaccines against infections caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. A different consortium coordinated by German researchers from the University of Jena is cooperating with the pharma industry to examine reasons for therapeutic resistance in the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus.
Austrian researchers from the University of Salzburg are using genome-wide transcriptomics approaches to produce commercially-exploitable products for monitoring, treating and ultimately preventing chronic chlamydial infections. And yet another network coordinated by Austrian scientists is cooperating with biotech company Intercell in a search for new immunomodulatory therapeutic approaches against Streptococcus pneumonia and Streptococcus pyogenes.