Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 2.83M | Year: 2012

The Marie Curie Initial Training Network SPOT-ITN will establish a multi-site network of early stage and experienced researchers at 9 partner institutions - including 3 from the private sector - in 4 European member countries and Israel to investigate fundamental and applied aspects of thermotolerance mechanisms contributing to the protection of pollen development at increased ambient temperatures. The envisioned joint research program is of broad commercial interest and will be an important contribution to the efforts undertaken world-wide to ensure future stability of food production in view of the prognosticated global climate change. Although the initial focus will be on tomato as an important agricultural crop, the results are expected to become applicable to other cultivated plants in the long run. Based on individual research projects of the young researchers, the main focus of the network will be to perform common, multidisciplinary experiments on a broad variety of heat-sensitive and heat-tolerant tomato genotypes and mutant lines at the molecular, cellular and organismic level with two major objectives: i) to describe the molecular basis of the striking sensitivity of pollen development at higher temperatures and regulation of pollen-specific heat stress response and thermotolerance mechanisms; and ii) to develop BIOMARKERS of POLLEN THERMOTOLERANCE usable in future screening programs to improve breeding of new heat-tolerant cultivars. Besides training of specific research tasks, the multi-disciplinary research program includes advanced methods and high-throughput technologies in plant genetics, molecular and cell biology, physiology, and bioinformatics. In addition, a multitude of opportunities are provided for training complementary skills to broaden the knowledge of the young researchers for developing their future career with comprehensive possibilities in a wide field of research areas in Life Sciences in both, the public and the private sector.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.07M | Year: 2015

The brain barriers function to protect the central nervous system (CNS) from neurotoxic compounds. By the same traits they unfortunately block delivery of drugs to the CNS thus hindering proper diagnosis and effective treatment of neurological disorders including Alzheimers disease and multiple sclerosis. The unusual complexity of the brain barriers has severely hampered progress in the market of CNS targeting therapeutics. BtRAIN bridges this gap by creating particular knowledge on vertebrate brain barrier signature genes and their specific roles in regulating brain barrier function in development, health, ageing and disease. Brain barrier signature genes will be identified by combining cross-species and cross-system brain barrier transcriptome analysis with dedicated bioinformatics. These data will be made available for brain barrier datamining in the userfriendly online platform BBBHub. Within BtRAIN, the side-by-side comparison of a unique and broad armamentarium of different vertebrate in vitro and in vivo brain barrier models will allow to develop and validate particular in vitro brain barrier models that are suited to reliably predict brain barrier function in vivo. Combined with an accompanying in depth analysis of the pathological alterations of the brain barriers during neurological disorders BtRAIN will create unique knowledge to overcome the unmet need for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools able to breach the brain barriers. In BtRAIN 12 academic, 6 non-academic partners and 1 European network will jointly train young researchers at unique interfaces of brain barrier research, bioinformatics, business development and science communication for an international research or entrepreneur career. To create this expert pool is the motivation for the involved partners as it will advance the Euopean capacity to bring innovative approaches to the untapped potential of the CNS therapeutic market.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2013.1.2-02 | Award Amount: 6.88M | Year: 2014

The project has been conceived to promote the culture of grain legumes in Europe by identifying priority issues currently limiting grain legume cultivation and devising solutions in term of novel varietal development, culture practices, and food uses. LEGATO will develop tools and resources to enable state of the art breeding methodology and to exploit fully the breadth of genetic resources available. The project will focus on a small number of key characters not previously explored in depth and complementary to other ongoing European and national projects. These topics covered include disease and pest resistance, where in addition to marker development for major fungal and viral pathogens, a focus on emerging insect pests is planned. The impact of end-of-season drought and heat stress on the rhizobial symbiosis, and its consequences for plant performance, will be studied. Two characters that can influence grain legume yield, autofertility and number of flowering nodes, will be investigated. The potential for improving legume nutritional and organoleptic quality by identification of desirable traits and innovative selection methods will be investigated. LEGATO will conceive sustainable legume-based cropping systems adapted to different pedoclimatic zones, respecting local constraints. The project has been constructed around the participation of commercial partners including SMEs in the areas of marker development, plant breeding, and legume food processing, who will benefit from the advances made in these areas in LEGATO. Promising legume varieties and cropping systems will be tested at a series of pan-european sites to favour the widest possible take-up in agriculture, and the partners potentially concerned will participate in a stakeholder forum convened regularly during the project.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.1.1-02 | Award Amount: 3.94M | Year: 2012

ABSTRESS applies combined, integrated systems biology and comparative genomics approaches to conduct a comprehensive study of the gene networks implicated in the interaction of drought stress and Fusarium infection in legumes. It uses Medicago truncatula as a model to rapidly identify characteristics for introgression into elite pea varieties and a field test of their performance against existing commercial varieties. The project will demonstrate the advantages of applying advanced phenotyping methods for the generation of improved varieties of a commercial crop. Legumes have been chosen as the preferred study crop because they are susceptible to a combination of abiotic and biotic stresses. By increasing their cultivation, they offer the greatest opportunity to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases from agriculture and hence contribute to the efforts to control climate change. Therefore ABSTRESS aligns with the European Strategic Research Agenda 2025. ABSTRESS will achieve a step change in sustainability in agriculture by undertaking breeding research that seeks to develop varieties having improved resistance to a combination of biotic and abiotic stresses. The novelty of the project is demonstrated by the generation, identification and understanding new genetic materials; addressing commercial requirements for the development of a successful new crop variety by using SME expertise; testing new in a range of growing conditions; addressing impact on Fusarium in other crops; have application to crop breeding generally; incorporating drought stress which is likely to be a major factor for climate change; developing high throughput molecular phenotyping, to gain a step change in the speed of the breeding cycle. Thus, this well structured, innovative research can lead to ground breaking achievements in plant breeding. These will help to ameliorate climate change and develop the tools to mitigate their effects on a sustainable food /feed supply chain.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN | Award Amount: 3.31M | Year: 2012

Chronic liver diseases (CLD) and their end-stages, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), are leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide with enormous socio-economic costs. Patients with liver cirrhosis are at high risk of deadly hepatic failure and over 80% of HCC develop on a cirrhotic background. HCC ranks as the 5th most common cancer and with >600,000 deaths per annum it constitutes a major global health problem. The main etiologies of CLD are chronic HCV and HBV infections, alcohol abuse and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as a result of the metabolic syndrome taking epidemic proportions. Liver transplantation is currently the only available therapy for terminal liver failure. It is well recognized that the cytokine TGF-Beta plays a pivotal role in the sequence of events leading to end-stage CLD, but the complexity of the underlying aberrant responses in the cells and the organ that lead to the drastic changes seen in CLD and HCC is poorly understood. A broad spectrum of scientific and technological capacities is needed to accomplish the goal of discovering drugs and treatment modalities for CLD and HCC.As a result, there is a lack in academia and industry alike - of internationally oriented researchers and research leaders, capable of seamless and bi-directional transfer of goal-oriented scientific knowledge and technologies between the basic, translational and clinical research and industrial capacities; a conditio sine qua non for effectively and efficiently combating CLD and HCC and alleviate its medical and socio-economic burdens. Consequently, the ITN formulated the mission to provide a multidisciplinary and intersectorial Research Training Programme for talented young researchers, so as to prepare them for leading roles in CLD research and drug discovery in European industry and academia.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.84M | Year: 2015

List_MAPS is a network dedicated to the training of innovative young researchers in the field of Microbiology and Systems Biology. It focuses on Listeria monocytogenes, an ubiquitous pathogen that is in the EU the leading cause of mortality and food recalls due to foodborne pathogens, costing the EU millions of euro per annum in medical care and associated costs in the food sector. ESRs will develop scientific expertise through PhD training, mobility of researchers, summer schools, workshops and transfer-of-knowledge in the areas of Transcriptomics, Proteomics, Sequencing and Systems Biology. Working in this dynamic state-of-the-art field will provide for training of ESRs to the highest level, with co-operation and movement between academia and industry that will enhance ESR training. The overall objective of the research programme is to tackle food safety through the combination of high throughput Epigenetics, Deep sequencing of transcripts, Proteomics, Bioinformatics, Mathematics and Microbiology to decipher the transcriptional regulatory circuitry that drives adaptation and virulence of L. monocytogenes from farm to fork. This information will be exploited to understand how environmental conditions and food composition can influence GI tract adaptation/virulence and to develop an innovative transcriptome-based tool to assess in silico the virulence of large collections of isolates. This developed tool aims at replacing the currently used burdensome animal models. In addition to excellent scientific competences, competitive research requires a range of transferable skills to secure funding, optimise management of working teams and exploit research results. List_MAPS proposes an innovative approach to the training of ESRs in these transferable skills, combining socio-constructivist learning theory with Open Educational Resources to design and provide blended learning courses. This will secure world-class training for creative, entrepreneurial and innovative ESRs.


Bokszczanin K.L.,GenXPro GmbH | Fragkostefanakis S.,Goethe University Frankfurt
Frontiers in Plant Science | Year: 2013

Global warming is a major threat for agriculture and food safety and in many cases the negative effects are already apparent. The current challenge of basic and applied plant science is to decipher the molecular mechanisms of heat stress response (HSR) and thermotolerance in detail and use this information to identify genotypes that will withstand unfavorable environmental conditions. Nowadays X-omics approaches complement the findings of previous targeted studies and highlight the complexity of HSR mechanisms giving information for so far unrecognized genes, proteins and metabolites as potential key players of thermotolerance. Even more, roles of epigenetic mechanisms and the involvement of small RNAs in thermotolerance are currently emerging and thus open new directions of yet unexplored areas of plant HSR. In parallel it is emerging that although the whole plant is vulnerable to heat, specific organs are particularly sensitive to elevated temperatures. This has redirected research from the vegetative to generative tissues. The sexual reproduction phase is considered as the most sensitive to heat and specifically pollen exhibits the highest sensitivity and frequently an elevation of the temperature just a few degrees above the optimum during pollen development can have detrimental effects for crop production. Compared to our knowledge on HSR of vegetative tissues, the information on pollen is still scarce. Nowadays, several techniques for high-throughput X-omics approaches provide major tools to explore the principles of pollen HSR and thermotolerance mechanisms in specific genotypes. The collection of such information will provide an excellent support for improvement of breeding programs to facilitate the development of tolerant cultivars. The review aims at describing the current knowledge of thermotolerance mechanisms and the technical advances which will foster new insights into this process. © 2013 Bokszczanin, Solanaceae Pollen Thermotolerance Initial Training Network (SPOT-ITN) Consortium and Fragkostefanakis.


Zawada A.M.,Saarland University | Rogacev K.S.,Saarland University | Rotter B.,GenXPro GmbH | Winter P.,GenXPro GmbH | And 3 more authors.
Blood | Year: 2011

Monocytes are a heterogeneous cell population with subset-specific functions and phenotypes. The differential expression of CD14 and CD16 distinguishes classical CD14 ++CD16 -, intermediate CD14 ++CD16 +, and nonclassical CD14 +CD16 ++ monocytes. Current knowledge on human monocyte heterogeneity is still incomplete: while it is increasingly acknowledged that CD14 ++CD16 + monocytes are of outstanding significance in 2 global health issues, namely HIV-1 infection and atherosclerosis, CD14 ++CD16 + monocytes remain the most poorly characterized subset so far. We therefore developed a method to purify the 3 monocyte subsets from human blood and analyzed their transcriptomes using SuperSAGE in combination with high-throughput sequencing. Analysis of 5 487 603 tags revealed unique identifiers of CD14 ++CD16 + monocytes, delineating these cells from the 2 other monocyte subsets. Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis suggests diverse immunologic functions, linking CD14 ++CD16 + monocytes to Ag processing and presentation (eg, CD74, HLA-DR, IFI30, CTSB), to inflammation and monocyte activation (eg, TGFB1, AIF1, PTPN6), and to angiogenesis (eg, TIE2, CD105). In conclusion, we provide genetic evidence for a distinct role of CD14 ++CD16 + monocytes in human immunity. After CD14 ++CD16 + monocytes have earlier been discussed as a potential therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases, we are hopeful that our data will spur further research in the field of monocyte heterogeneity. © 2011 by The American Society of Hematology.


Nybom H.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Weising K.,University of Kassel | Rotter B.,GenXPro GmbH
Investigative Genetics | Year: 2014

Almost three decades ago Alec Jeffreys published his seminal Nature papers on the use of minisatellite probes for DNA fingerprinting of humans (Jeffreys and colleagues Nature 1985, 314:67-73 and Nature 1985, 316:76-79). The new technology was soon adopted for many other organisms including plants, and when Hilde Nybom, Kurt Weising and Alec Jeffreys first met at the very First International Conference on DNA Fingerprinting in Berne, Switzerland, in 1990, everybody was enthusiastic about the novel method that allowed us for the first time to discriminate between humans, animals, plants and fungi on the individual level using DNA markers. A newsletter coined " Fingerprint News" was launched, T-shirts were sold, and the proceedings of the Berne conference filled a first book on " DNA fingerprinting: approaches and applications" Four more conferences were about to follow, one on each continent, and Alec Jeffreys of course was invited to all of them. Since these early days, methodologies have undergone a rapid evolution and diversification. A multitude of techniques have been developed, optimized, and eventually abandoned when novel and more efficient and/or more reliable methods appeared. Despite some overlap between the lifetimes of the different technologies, three phases can be defined that coincide with major technological advances. Whereas the first phase of DNA fingerprinting (" the past" ) was dominated by restriction fragment analysis in conjunction with Southern blot hybridization, the advent of the PCR in the late 1980s gave way to the development of PCR-based single- or multi-locus profiling techniques in the second phase. Given that many routine applications of plant DNA fingerprinting still rely on PCR-based markers, we here refer to these methods as " DNA fingerprinting in the present" , and include numerous examples in the present review. The beginning of the third phase actually dates back to 2005, when several novel, highly parallel DNA sequencing strategies were developed that increased the throughput over current Sanger sequencing technology 1000-fold and more. High-speed DNA sequencing was soon also exploited for DNA fingerprinting in plants, either in terms of facilitated marker development, or directly in the sense of " genotyping-by-sequencing" Whereas these novel approaches are applied at an ever increasing rate also in non-model species, they are still far from routine, and we therefore treat them here as " DNA fingerprinting in the future" © 2014 Nybom et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.2.3.4-1 | Award Amount: 3.82M | Year: 2013

Background Ixodes ricinus transmits bacterial, protozoal and viral pathogens that cause Lyme borreliosis, babesiosis and tick-borne encephalitis respectively and exceedingly affect Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). During feeding, ticks introduce salivary proteins in the skin that interfere with host defense mechanisms. However, in animals repeated tick infestations as well as vaccination against selected tick proteins can lead to decreased pathogen transmission by inhibiting tick feeding - known as tick immunity - or by neutralizing tick proteins that facilitate the transmission of tick-borne pathogens (TBPs). Also humans with hypersensitivity to tick-bites have a lower risk of contracting tick-borne diseases (TBDs). Therefore, anti-tick vaccines encompass an innovative strategy to prevent TBDs in humans, or animals and wildlife to indirectly reduce the risk of contracting TBDs for humans. Overall Objective To identify and characterize tick proteins involved in tick immunity and TBP transmission and to use this knowledge to develop anti-tick vaccines to prevent multiple human TBDs. Methods Using state of the art proteomic and transcriptomic approaches we will identify and characterize novel tick salivary gland proteins, which will be subsequently assessed as anti-tick vaccines to protect against LB, babesiosis and TBE in animal models. In addition, through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach involving CEE public health institutes, health organizations and industrial companies we will examine how to develop anti-tick vaccines and implement these in public health systems. Impact ANTIDotE will deliver 1) essential knowledge on the biological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of TBDs, 2) proof of concept of an anti-tick vaccine protecting against multiple human TBPs and 3) plans for exploitation and implementation of anti-tick vaccines, significantly contributing to downscaling the severe medical and economic burden that TBDs have on societies.

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