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New families of proteins and enzymes will enable the development of novel plant-based biomaterials, potentially providing viable sustainable and renewable alternatives to plastics and other fossil-fuel-derived materials and chemicals.
At the forefront of medicine, gene therapy is based on the insertion of genes into an individual's cells and tissues to treat a disease. Scientists are currently testing several approaches to this experimental technique. One of them, Prof. Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, intends to develop a novel method to treat myocardial ischemia by activating endogenous genes to propel angiogenesis. If successful, he will open a new era in gene therapy.
Based on University of Turku's press release
For more than 3000 years, men have captured wild Asian elephants to use them for work or entertainment. In a new study published today in Nature Communications, ERC grantee Virpi Lummaa shows the harmful effects of these ongoing practices on wild-caught animals. The findings are based on detailed records from the past 100 years over a population of 5000 timber elephants from Myanmar.
Virpi Lummaa holds an Academy of Finland Professorship at the University of Turku, Finland. She is interested in ageing, lifespan and natural selection in contemporary human populations, looking at evolutionary, ecological and demographic factors. At present, Prof. Lummaa also focuses on senescence patterns of the Asian elephant, a long-lived mammal that offers unique opportunities to address ageing mechanisms. Her latest findings highlight the significant role that elephant grandmothers play to ensure the survival of the calves, providing vital baby elephant care comparable to childcare in human communities across the world.Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."
Plants form a key interface between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere by exchanging carbon, water and energy with their environment. They also release chemicals called “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) in the atmosphere. However, the overall impact of these gas compounds is poorly understood. Ülo Niinemets and his team look at the role of plants in large-scale Earth processes and how they affect air quality and the Earth surface temperature, solar radiation and precipitation.
Malaria has always been the centre of attention for Dr Ali Salanti’s, a molecular parasitologist and an ERC grantee. With his studies, he hoped to bring new insight into pregnancy-associated malaria, to save the lives of women and their babies in areas affected by the disease. Now, Dr Salanti’s research has shifted to battling against another deadly disease: cancer. This comes after an unexpected discovery yielded ground-breaking results for the diagnosis and treatment of this illness. This is the kind of curiosity-driven research that can lead to ground-breaking serendipitous outcomes.
Why do so many diabetes patients develop kidney disease, and how can we improve prevention? EU-funded research has examined insulin-related processes at play in impaired renal function — and it may have found a way to protect key cells that help to filter our blood.
An international team of researchers, led by ERC grantee Prof Rune Linding, discovered how genetic cancer mutations attack the networks controlling human cells. This knowledge is critical for the future development of personalized precision cancer treatments.
Prevention and early detection largely determine the outcome of most cancers. Prof. Päivi Peltomäki studies how tumours arise and progress, with a view to identifying biomarkers of our susceptibility to developing cancer. With the ERC grant, the team has created a single-step, early diagnosis kit for colorectal cancer.