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29-06-2018 | © Anatomy Insider, Shutterstock

Organoids in the fight against cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths. European researchers developed novel ex vivo three-dimensional organoid cultures that replicate genetic events in CRC, as tools to test novel therapeutics.

28-05-2018 | © picture

Understanding acidification to fight infection

Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga and his team work on understanding the movement of molecules across human cells. In a paper recently published on Cell Host & Microbe, they outline the significance of a single protein, SLC4A7, in phagocytosis, the body's first line of defence against infection. These results, however, go beyond the context of infectious diseases, with repercussions on our knowledge of processes like inflammation and cancer.

22-03-2018 | Myotis myotis bats flying © Photography by Olivier Farcy. Courtesy AGELESS project - Portrait photo © Prof. Emma TEELING

Ageing healthily: European scientists unlock the molecular secret behind bat longevity

Scientists led by ERC grantee Emma Teeling have identified part of the molecular mechanism that gives bat species Myotis their extraordinary long and healthy lifespans. The longest-lived bats can live over 41 years of age while weighing only 7g, which is the human equivalent of some 234 years. They also maintain good health longer than many other mammals. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, focus on the protective structures at the end of chromosomes, called telomeres. Bats may have evolved unique telomere maintenance mechanisms which allow them to repair age-related cell damage.

27-07-2017 | 3D illustration ©www.shutterstock.com

Understanding membrane trafficking in space and time

ERC grantee Prof. Maria Antonietta De Matteis studies membrane trafficking in cells and how its components interact and are regulated to guarantee a healthy cell function. Her work could revolutionise our understanding of this key biological process.

01-04-2017 | © picture

Frontier science and business that makes a difference

Maria Brandão de Vasconcelos, together with her colleague Filipa Matos Baptista, Henrique Veiga-Fernandes (ERC grantee), Diogo Fonseca Pereira and Sílvia Arroz Madeira, founded StemCell2MAX in 2015. The company is a biotechnology start-up, specialised in cell based therapies, including novel solutions to multiply the scarcely available blood stem cells, addressing an enormous demand for research and cancer treatment. StemCell2MAX technology is based on Prof. Veiga-Fernandes's ground-breaking discoveries in hematopoietic stem cell biology.

Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."

05-12-2016 | © Portrait: Katie Van Geyte | © Illustration: Microscopic image of the PFKFB3 project – Results published in Cantelmo AR, et al., Cancer Cell 2016 Nov 8

Novel therapy starves the engine driving cancer cell growth

European researchers have identified a novel approach to prevent the growth of cancer tumours and inhibit them from spreading, potentially leading to highly effective treatments with fewer side effects.

30-11-2016 | Image: FISH analysis performed by Sara Carloni, PhD: in situ staining of bacteria (in green) in the gut lumen. Nuclei stained in blue (dapi).

Gut bacteria could hold key to new treatments

An ERC-funded project has significantly increased understanding of the crucial role that microorganisms in the gut play in maintaining health. The findings have since led to a patent, as well as a follow-on project that could one day steer the way to new targeted treatments for diseases, including cancer.

12-07-2016 | Researcher picture ©Olga NAGY

Evolution of species: different, but not so different

Through her work with the fruit fly Drosophila santomea, Dr Virginie Orgogozo aims to answer one of the most challenging questions of modern evolutionary biology: how do observable characteristics change between species and yet remain stable in a given species?

29-06-2016 | © picture

Stem cells: from frontier research project to promising spin-off company

Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) are blood cells located in the bone marrow. These cells are extensively used in research to develop treatments for many severe diseases, including HIV and multiple sclerosis, and their transplant is a key therapy for certain types of cancer like leukemia and multiple myeloma. However, the use of HSCs is seriously constrained by their limited availability since growing them in the lab does not produce very large quantities. There is therefore an urgent need for methods allowing scientists to multiply HSCs, without losing any of their properties.

21-04-2016 | Portrait picture ©Royal Society / Research picture ©Curie Institute

New landmark in epigenetics: understanding the silencing of the X-chromosome

While women inherit two X chromosomes, the expressions of one of them is shut down during embryonic development. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. The switching off of women’s second X chromosome is thought to compensate for the presence of only one X in males versus two in females, to balance for X-linked gene products between the sexes. X-chromosome inactivation is also one of the clearest examples of what epigenetic mechanisms do to our genetic material: the DNA of the genes on the X is still present but not actively expressed or needed. Prof. Edith Heard was awarded ERC grants to understand the intricate processes behind the phenomenon, with unexpected results that changed the way gene regulation is now looked at.