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24-06-2019 | © istockphotos.com 2 mins read

Microbiota: a cure for obesity?

Effective treatment for obesity remains a challenge and the only intervention proven to maintain weight loss is bariatric surgery. Intrigued by the beneficial effect that this procedure has on the composition of gut microbiota, Dr Fredrik Bäckhed explores the possibility of mimicking these changes to develop a treatment for obesity that won’t require going under the knife.

11-05-2017 | Portrait and illustration: Photo Evolutionary Biology group (Isabel Gordo) | llustration: Macrophages with Escherichia coli 3 mins read

New knowledge to fight back against antibiotic resistance

The use and misuse of antibiotics has accelerated the emergence of drug-resistant bacterial strains, threatening our ability to treat common diseases. EU-funded research has shed new light on the mechanisms behind these microbial mutations, with implications for our understanding of diseases and resistance to treatment.

01-04-2017 | © picture 2 mins read

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."

30-03-2017 | © picture 2 mins read

Together, we can achieve a lot

Ole Kamstrup, MD., MSc., is a pensioner and lives north of Copenhagen in Denmark. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease ten years ago. Since 2013, Mr Kamstrup has been in contact with Professor Deniz Kirik, a neuroscientist at Lund University in Sweden. Professor Kirik, who was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2009, develops new therapies for Parkinson’s disease, using viral vectors to deliver therapeutic genes to the brain. An ERC Proof of Concept grant enabled him to start carrying out a market evaluation and writing a business plan for the promising therapy.

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

29-06-2016 | © picture 2 mins read

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.

30-10-2015 | image © Istockphoto 2 mins read

Animals "peer-pressured" into reacting to danger

ERC grantee Marta Moita and her team use cutting-edge experimental procedures to investigate how rats and flies learn to appropriately respond to danger from other individuals. The results of her study may teach us a lot about our own brains, and shed light on diseases that impair social behaviour.

15-10-2015 | © picture 3 mins read

ERC grantee and regional government to set up gene therapy centre

ERC grantee Professor Deniz Kirik's spin-off company will join forces with Skåne Regional Council in southern Sweden to build a specialised hospital and a state-of-the-art gene therapy centre, the parties announced on 8 October. The new facilities are expected to be operational by 2020. They will provide researchers unique opportunities for clinical trials, while patients will gain access to the latest treatment methods for Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

03-07-2014 | © picture 3 mins read

The next generation of 3D printers

3D printers are emblematic of what the future of technology could look like. Versatile, flexible and highly adaptable, they promise to produce everything from customised furniture to transplantable organs. Yet the concept of the 3D printer, its place in our imagination, has outstripped its current technical capacity. At the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, Professor Frank Niklaus and his research team have set themselves a challenge: to engineer a 3D printer fitted to the modern manufacturing world, capable of producing micro- and nano-structures and, ultimately, superior micro-materials.

16-03-2012 | © picture 3 mins read

Exercise changes chemical marks on DNA

The genetic heredity a person is born with isn't as impossible to change as one might think. In a study published in Cell Metabolism on 7 March 2012 Juleen Zierath, an ERC Advanced grantee 2008, and her team of researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden showed that when healthy but inactive men and women are made to exercise it actually alters chemical marks on their DNA - in a matter of minutes.

29-04-2011 | © picture 4 mins read

See-through electronics

Forget USA, Japan; the field of transparent electronics has put Portugal well and truly on the map thanks to Professor Elvira Fortunato and one of the largest grants awarded to a Portuguese scientist. The European Research Council grant contributed to the installation of the recently opened NOVA Nano-Fabrication Laboratory, of which Prof Fortunato is the Director.