European research into infectious animal diseases

October 26, 2006

Brussels, 24 October 2006

The Directorate-General for Research of the European Commission is today holding a media briefing to present current EU-funded research on infectious animal diseases. During thematic briefings in the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in Germany, European scientists demonstrate ongoing research activities to combat threats posed by animal health crises (avian influenza, foot and mouth and mad cow). With this research the EU has strengthened its knowledge base through research into major animal diseases and is stimulating the competitiveness of the European animal health industry.

Briefings conducted by leading animal health scientists and a visit to the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), the German Federal Institute of Animal Health, on the Isle of Riems in Greifswald, Germany will give journalists the opportunity to discuss current developments and new research challenges.

During the technical briefing, several EU-funded projects including BSE research (diagnosis and control) are presented. Examples include:

* ETPGAH - the European Technology Platform for Global Animal Health (ETPGAH), which will facilitate and accelerate the development and distribution of the most effective tools for controlling major animal diseases

* EPIZONE - a project to improve research on preparedness, prevention, detection and control of epizootic diseases within Europe. The aim is to reduce the economic and social impact of future outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, avian influenza, classical swine fever and other relevant epizootic diseases such as bluetongue and African swine fever

* NeuroPrion - aims at avoiding future prion crises by assembling all of the key scientists in Europe working on these diseases, in the areas ofprevention, control and management.

All of these projects have ambitious objectives that can only be achieved through intensive collaboration between European and/or international research teams with complementary expertise.

For more information including presentations and project fact sheets (electronic press kit) please see www.ec.europa.eu/research/press/2006/pr1410en.cfm.

A few days ago, the European Commission announced the project details of €28.3 million of research funds, made available for research into avian and pandemic influenza. For details see IP/06/1413 and MEMO/06/381 (www.europa.eu/rapid). For information about other ongoing EU-funded research projects in the field of avian and pandemic influenza please see www.ec.europa.eu/research/press/2006/pr0702en.cfm (which also contains links to two short video documentaries on EU-funded research).

European technology platform on Global Animal Health

The European Technology Platform for Global Animal Health (ETPGAH) was launched in 2004. The platform aims to facilitate and accelerate the development and distribution of the most effective tools for controlling animal diseases of major importance to Europe and the rest of the world, thereby improving human and animal health, safety and quality, animal welfare and market access. The platform's current focus is the development of vaccines, pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests for major animal diseases because the limited availability of these innovative tools is endangering the efficient control of a number of animal diseases. Stakeholders have defined a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) and a rational methodology to prioritise animal diseases within Europe and worldwide. The steering committee works closely with all stakeholders, funders and similar interests in the knowledge-based bio-economy.
Contact:Declan O'Brien, Managing Director - IFAH-Europe.
More info www.ifah.be/Europe/EUplatform/platform.html and animaltp@ifahsec.org

EU research network EPIZONE.
EPIZONE is a Network of Excellence supported by the EU's Sixth Research Framework Programme with a total EU contribution of €14 million. EPIZONE aims at improving research on preparedness, prevention, detection and control of epizootic diseases within Europe to reduce the economic and social impact of future outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, avian influenza, classical swine fever and other relevant epizootic diseases such as bluetongue and African swine fever. EPIZONE will develop an organisational structure based on a "Virtual Institute". It will ensure common access to resources such as collections of clinical materials and strains, expertise, high-containment facilities, animal facilities and specialised equipment. It will establish a structured training including practical courses and "distant learning" and opportunities for mobility of scientists. It will also create "experts" teams for acute needs. EPIZONE will establish links with other groups and networks outside the EU.
EU budget (funding): € 14 million Duration: June 2006-May 2011 (5 years)
Coordinator: Dr. P.A. (Piet) van Rijn, CIDC-Lelystad (Wageningen UR), NL
Partners from: BE, DE, DK, ES, FR, IT, NL, PL, UK, SE, Turkey, China and FAO (UN)
More info www.epizone-eu.net and epizone.cidc@wur.nl

NeuroPrion - Prevention, control and management of prion diseases (EU research network of excellence)
Prion diseases are transmissible neurodegenerative diseases of man and other animals. The link between the consumption of BSE contaminated bovine products and the development of the human form of 'mad cow disease', variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (vCJD), was established in 1996. Since then, great strides have been taken towards eradicating the threat to human and animal health posed by these diseases. Integral to these efforts have been pathogenesis studies, such as those carried out at the FLI, which map the parts of a BSE animal which are infectious, and which should therefore be removed from food chains. FLI is a participant in the NeuroPrion project, the aim of which is to protect human and animal health from prion diseases by both co-ordinating and supporting research in 52 laboratories in 20 European countries.
EU budget (funding): € 14.4 million Duration: Sept. 2003-Aug. 2008 (5 years)
Coordinator: Dr Jean-Philippe Deslys, CEA
Partners from: AT, BE, DE, DK, ES, IE, IT, FI, FR, GR, NL, UK, PL, PT, SK, CH, Norway, Israel, Iceland
More info www.NeuroPrion.net

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