Brussels, 1st July 2010
EU Marie Curie fund backs research into sugar-based anti-cancer drug
An Italian scientist supported by the European Union's Marie Curie research fund is helping to pioneer a new treatment that could lead to a breakthrough in the fight against brain cancer.
Milo Malanga will present details of new research into the development of an anti-cancer drug based on cyclodextrins, a type of sugar found in potatoes, wheat, corn or rice, at the Marie Curie conference in Turin on 2 July.
Malanga is working with a team of scientists and researchers at Budapest-based Cyclolab, the largest research and development laboratory of its type in the world. Results of the research into the anti-cancer treatment, known as Project Cyclon, are expected by 2013.
"State-of-the-art drugs to fight different types of brain cancer are, unfortunately, scarce and not as effective as they should be to ensure an acceptable degree of success," states Malanga, who was selected for support from the EU's 'Marie Curie Actions' scheme in January this year.
"If our work at Cyclolab bears the expected fruit, the new anti-cancer drugs might be developed by 2013," he said.
One of the biggest challenges for the researchers is to develop drugs that fight cancerous cells, without killing off healthy cells at the same time. Another specific problem they face is that the brain is protected by a layer of high-density cells, known as the 'blood-brain barrier', which restrict the effectiveness of most existing anti-cancer treatments .
Milo Malanga is one of the 396 research fellows who will be attending the Marie Curie Conference, in the margins of the 2010 EuroScience Open Forum in Turin. The aim of the Marie Curie conference is for EU-backed researchers to broaden their knowledge and career perspectives.
The EU's Marie Curie Actions provide grants at post-graduate and post-doctoral level to encourage mobility among Europe's best researchers. The EU will allocate more than €4.5 billion through the scheme in 2007-2013.
Since 1996, Marie Curie Actions have played a central role in the 'European Research Area'. They are managed by the Research Executive Agency (REA), a funding body created by the EU to manage parts of the European Seventh Framework Programme for Research, one of the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy for sustainable and inclusive growth.
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, whose responsibility includes the Marie Curie Actions fund, said: "I hope Milo Malanga and his colleagues succeed in developing a drug that could save thousands, if not millions, of lives. I'm proud that the EU is contributing to their work, which is an excellent example of the added value of European funding in support of research.
"The Marie Curie scheme brings together the best talents in higher education and research so that knowledge moves freely across borders and stimulates innovation and new ideas, which are the lifeblood of progress in healthcare and many other areas."
Milo Malanga is 33. He studied pharmaceutical chemistry and technology at the University of Bologna, his home town. He will address the Marie Curie Conference in Lingotto, Turin, on Friday 2 July at 11.15 am.
Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will address the 2010 EuroScience Open Forum in Turin on 3 July on how the Commission's forthcoming Innovation Union strategy will boost scientific progress and sustainable prosperity and how the Joint Research Centre's new strategy will contribute to those goals.
Marie Curie website: http://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/
EU 2020 Strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/index_en.htm