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IP/10/252

Brussels, 9 th March 2010

European Commission unveils new research projects to fight influenza

Today, the European Commission has announced the results of its €18 million call for proposals for new research projects on influenza. Four collaborative research projects have been shortlisted for funding. They involve 52 research institutes and SMEs from 18 European countries and 3 international partners (Israel, China, the United States). Influenza virus genes migrate across continents and between species and seriously threaten both human and animal health. Two consortia will focus their research on influenza in pigs while the two others will develop innovative drugs against influenza in humans. Their selection is part of the EU's longstanding support for research on influenza and brings the total Commission funding in this field to over €100 million since 2001.

EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Seasonal flu alone can kill 250,000 – 500,000 people worldwide every year and EU-funded research projects like these can help save lives. What is more, successful EU research in preventing and treating flu and other diseases has enormous social and economic value and can contribute significantly to our Europe 2020 goals".

Next steps

Final EU contribution per project and project details will be subject to the signature of contracts which should take place in 2010.

Background

The €18 million call for proposals for new research projects on influenza was launched in July 2009. 17 proposals were submitted.

Details of new influenza research projects announced today – more information and scientific background on the projects below at:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=newsalert&lg=en&year=2010&na=na-090310-annexes

ESNIP 3 - European surveillance network for influenza in pigs 3

This ESNIP 3 project will maintain and expand the surveillance network for influenza in pigs established during the previous EU funded projects ESNIP 1 and ESNIP 2 which represented the only organised surveillance network of this kind. The project is expected to contribute to improved pandemic preparedness and planning for human influenza and provide an evidence base for decisions in relation to veterinary health.

Duration: 36 months

Expected EU contribution: €1 million

Coordinator: Ian Brown, The Veterinarian Laboratories Agency (United Kingdom), i.h.brown@vla.defra.gsi.gov.uk .

Contact for the press: Jane Goodger, j.goodger@vla.defra.gsi.gov.uk

25 Partners from 15 countries: United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Spain, Germany, Finland, Hungary, The Netherlands, Greece, Israel, China and the United States.

FLUPIG - Pathogenesis and transmission of influenza virus in pigs

This project aims at a better understanding of the role of pigs in influenza pandemics. The exact role of pigs is unclear, as is the nature of the genetic changes that are required for (a) efficient replication of an avian virus in pigs, (b) efficient transmission of avian viruses between pigs and (c) virus transmission from pigs to humans and between humans. More knowledge of this will be critical to the control of future influenza pandemics

Duration: 48 months

Expected EU contribution: €5 million

Coordinator: Kristien van Reeth, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, (Belgium), kristien.vanreeth@ugent.be

10 Partners from 8 countries: Belgium, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, China (Hong-Kong) and the United States.

FLU-PHARM - New drugs targeting influenza virus

The project FLU-PHARM will develop new drug candidates that inhibit viral replication in infected cells (by targeting the PB2 and PA protein domains). Such drugs are expected to have a reduced risk of patients developing resistance to them and less undesirable side-effects. If successful, FLU-PHARM will provide new opportunities for treating both seasonal and pandemic flu.

Duration: 42 months

Expected EU contribution: €6 million

Coordinator: Stephen Cusack, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (France) cusack@embl.fr

14 Partners from 7 countries: Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Slovakia, Belgium, Sweden

FLUCURE - Development of novel antiviral drugs against Influenza

The FLUCURE project will also targets the viral replication machinery (with a different approach as it will target the PB1/PA proteins and NP proteins) and aims to develop new drug candidates with reduced risk of resistance. The objective is to deliver one or more drug candidates suitable for entering clinical development within four years.

Duration: 48 months

Expected EU contribution: €6 million

Coordinator: Heather Marshall-Heyman, VIRONOVA AB (Sweden), heather.marshall-heyman@vironova.com

9 Partners from 7 European countries: Sweden, Switzerland, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany, Italy


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