The application of molecular knowledge for developing new medical technologies is the goal of molecular medicine. Success in this area is highly dependent on the interaction of investigators from fields as diverse as biochemistry, cell biology, immunology, physiology, epidemiology, and physics, with an eye toward applying their insights and discoveries to improving human health. Such interdisciplinary approaches rarely find the common ground and language necessary to achieve this goal. Recently, a meeting of researchers studying the ectoenzymes CD38 and CD157 brought together insights into the regulation of calcium signaling, the metabolism of pyridine nucleotides by CD38 and CD157, and subsequent effects on immune function. Together, these discoveries were being applied to the development of novel therapeutics and diagnostics for myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This issue of Molecular Medicine, featuring several short reviews based on a conference held in Turin, Italy, 10–12 June 2006, showcases the current state of this field and highlights some recent progress in molecular medicine.
A meeting to discuss the latest developments in the biology of sexual development of Plasmodium and transmission-control was held April 5-6, 2011, in Bethesda, MD. The meeting was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) in response to the challenge issued at the Malaria Forum in October 2007 that the malaria community should re-engage with the objective of global eradication. The consequent rebalancing of research priorities has brought to the forefront of the research agenda the essential need to reduce parasite transmission. A key component of any transmission reduction strategy must be methods to attack the parasite as it passes from man to the mosquito (and vice versa). Such methods must be rationally based on a secure understanding of transmission from the molecular-, cellular-, population- to the evolutionary-levels. The meeting represented a first attempt to draw together scientists with expertise in these multiple layers of understanding to discuss the scientific foundations and resources that will be required to provide secure progress toward the design and successful implementation of effective interventions.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common human disease with a prevalence of about 1% in most parts of the world. At the time of symptom onset it is difficult to predict the severity of subsequent disease course. After 2 years joint erosions are seen in most patients, and most patients become clinically disabled within 20 years. A recent meeting at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (Imperial College, London) brought together representatives from several European centres of excellence, to discuss research funded by the EU Framework 5 Quality of Life Programme. This research network combines gene and protein expression profiling with different animal models of RA to identify cells, genes and pathways contributing to arthritis initiation, progression and chronicity. The studies discussed highlight the reality that collaboration between different research groups is the basis of groundbreaking research and, it is hoped, eventual new therapies for RA.
arthritis; genomics; therapy
‘Carabidologists do it all’ (Niemelä 1996a) is a phrase with which most European carabidologists are familiar. Indeed, during the last half a century, professional and amateur entomologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the basic biology of carabid beetles. The success of the field is in no small part due to regular European Carabidologists’ Meetings, which started in 1969 in Wijster, the Netherlands, with the 14th meeting again held in the Netherlands in 2009, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first meeting and 50 years of long-term research in the Dwingelderveld. This paper offers a subjective summary of some of the major developments in carabidology since the 1960s. Taxonomy of the family Carabidae is now reasonably established, and the application of modern taxonomic tools has brought up several surprises like elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Progress has been made on the ultimate and proximate factors of seasonality and timing of reproduction, which only exceptionally show non-seasonality. Triggers can be linked to evolutionary events and plausibly explained by the “taxon cycle” theory. Fairly little is still known about certain feeding preferences, including granivory and ants, as well as unique life history strategies, such as ectoparasitism and predation on higher taxa. The study of carabids has been instrumental in developing metapopulation theory (even if it was termed differently). Dispersal is one of the areas intensively studied, and results show an intricate interaction between walking and flying as the major mechanisms. The ecological study of carabids is still hampered by some unresolved questions about sampling and data evaluation. It is recognised that knowledge is uneven, especially concerning larvae and species in tropical areas. By their abundance and wide distribution, carabid beetles can be useful in population studies, bioindication, conservation biology and landscape ecology. Indeed, 40 years of carabidological research have provided so much data and insights, that among insects - and arguably most other terrestrial organisms - carabid beetles are one of the most worthwhile model groups for biological studies.
Carabidae; ground beetle; systematics; biology; life history; rhythms; seed feeding; ant feeding; ectoparasitism; predation on amphibians; dispersal; pitfall trapping; statistics; population dynamics; long-term research; bioindicators; conservation; habitat management; landscape ecology
Major advances in technology now drive how we approach questions in immunology, particularly in analyzing complex data sets commonly encountered in genomics and proteomics studies. Active areas of investigation include development of novel technologies, identification of elusive target antigens for RA and other diseases, dissection of signaling pathways connecting the lymphocyte cell surface with the nucleus, and exploration of new avenues for therapeutic interventions. The European Workshop for Rheumatology Research (EWRR) is a forum for many European and non-European scientists to present research findings of high quality. Arthritis researchers from around the globe should be strongly encouraged to attend future meetings, the next of which is the 22nd EWRR meeting in Leiden, the Netherlands, in 2002.
apoptosis; autoimmunity; autoantibodies; cytokine; signaling
Genomic and post-genomic biological research has provided fine-grain insights into the molecular processes of life, but also threatens to drown biomedical researchers in data. Moreover, as new high-throughput technologies are developed, the types of data that are gathered en masse are diversifying. The need to collect, store and curate all this information in ways that allow its efficient retrieval and exploitation is greater than ever. The European Bioinformatics Institute's (EBI's) databases and tools have evolved to meet the changing needs of molecular biologists: since we last wrote about our services in the 2003 issue of Nucleic Acids Research, we have launched new databases covering protein–protein interactions (IntAct), pathways (Reactome) and small molecules (ChEBI). Our existing core databases have continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of biomedical researchers, and we have developed new data-access tools that help biologists to move intuitively through the different data types, thereby helping them to put the parts together to understand biology at the systems level. The EBI's data resources are all available on our website at http://www.ebi.ac.uk.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and perinatal morbidity. The etiology of preterm is multi-factorial and still unclear. As evidence increases for a genetic contribution to PTB, so does the need to explore genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics in its study. This review suggests research guidelines for the conduct of high throughput systems biology investigations into preterm birth with the expectation that this will facilitate the sharing of samples and data internationally through consortia, generating the power needed to study preterm birth using integrated "-omics" technologies. The issues to be addressed include: (1) integrated "-omics" approaches, (2) phenotyping, (3) sample collection, (4) data management-integrative databases, (5) international consortia and (6) translational feasibility. This manuscript is the product of discussions initiated by the "-Omics" Working Group at the Preterm Birth International Collaborative Meeting held at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in April 2009.
The inaugural European Network for Breast Development and Cancer (ENBDC) meeting on 'Methods in Mammary Gland Development and Cancer' was held in Weggis, Switzerland last April. The goal was to discuss the details of techniques used to study mammary gland biology and tumourigenesis. Highlights of this meeting included the use of four-colour fluorescence for protein co-localisation in tissue microarrays, genome analysis at single cell resolution, technical issues in the isolation of normal and tumour stem cells, and the use of mouse models and mammary gland transplantations to elucidate gene function in mammary development and to study drug resistance in breast cancer.
This is a summary report of the workshop, organized by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Scientists in association with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, the European Pharmacopoeia, the US Food and Drug Administration and the United States Pharmacopoeia, on “Assuring Quality and Performance of Sustained and Controlled Release Parenterals” held in Basel, Switzerland, February 2003. Experts from the pharmaceutical industry, regulatory authorities and academia participated in this workshop to review, discuss and debate formulation, processing and manufacture of sustained and controlled release parenterals, and identify critical process parameters and their control. This workshop was a follow-up workshop to a previous workshop on Assuring Quality and Performance of Sustained and Controlled Release Parenterals that was held in Washington, DC in April 2001. This report reflects the outcome of the Basel 2003 meeting and the advances in the field since the Washington, DC meeting in 2001. As necessary, the reader is referred to the report on the 2001 meeting. Areas were identified at the 2003 Basel meeting where research is needed in order to understand the performance of these drug delivery systems and to assist in the development of appropriate testing procedures. Recommendations were made for future workshops and meetings.
The meeting on “Investigating cellular stress responses—a multidisciplinary approach from basic science to therapeutics” was held in London on 13 October 2006. The purpose of this 1-day meeting was to bring together European scientists investigating the immune biology of stress proteins and their potential clinical applications. The main topics included: the role of heat shock proteins (Hsps) in bacterial infections; the role of Hsps with a molecular mass of about 70 kDa in cancer therapy and in prediction of the clinical outcome following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; the quality and duration of stress as a danger signal for the initiation of a stress response; the mechanism of Hsp-protein interaction; and Hsp export from tumor cells in secretory granules.
One hundred years ago, in 1909, the American Society for Clinical Investigation
(ASCI) held its first annual meeting. The founding members based this new society on
a revolutionary approach to research that emphasized newer physiological methods. In
1924 the ASCI started a new journal, the Journal of Clinical
Investigation. The ASCI has also held an annual meeting almost every year.
The society has long debated who could be a member, with discussions about whether
members must be physicians, what sorts of research they could do, and the role of
women within the society. The ASCI has also grappled with what else the society
should do, especially whether it ought to take a stand on policy issues. ASCI history
has reflected changing social, political, and economic contexts, including several
wars, concerns about the ethics of biomedical research, massive increases in federal
research funding, and an increasingly large and specialized medical environment.
Human infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis exists as a spectrum of conditions ranging from asymptomatic infection to active disease. Novel, accurate tuberculosis immunodiagnostics have been introduced over the last decade, but it remains challenging to timely diagnose active disease and to accurately distinguish asymptomatic M. tuberculosis infection from immune memory resulting from a prior infection eradicated by the host response. The conference titled Immunodiagnosis of Tuberculosis: New Questions, New Tools, which was held on September 21-23, 2008 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States, brought together basic scientists and clinical experts to discuss recent progress in tuberculosis research and diagnosis. Global analyses of M. tuberculosis biology and the host immune response, with emphasis on systems approaches to the study of host-pathogen interactions, were presented. Moreover, conference participants discussed new tests in the pipeline and reviewed new technologies leading to novel assay formats. The discussion included technologies ranging from simple, inexpensive point-of-care tests to automated molecular platforms for detection of multiple infections based on the “lab on a chip” concept. It was also recognized that the utility of any new diagnostic relies on laboratory capacity, accessibility, costs, and test deployment. The conference included lessons from the field. For example, the application of existing technologies to neglected areas, such as diagnosis in children and HIV+ populations, was discussed.
A workshop on ‘The Biology of Intracellular Bacterial Pathogens’ was held last October in a venue of the International University of Andalusia (UNIA) located in the World Historic Heritage town of Baeza, in the South of Spain. This Workshop gathered leading scientists from around the world to discuss their latest findings related to the mechanisms that intracellular pathogens use to subvert and manipulate host cell functions. The workshop focused on novel aspects that imprint current research in this discipline, including the heterogeneous behaviour of the pathogen at the population level, the host determinants that modulate susceptibility to the infection, the search for new drugs to combat these particular types of infections and also cutting edge technologies based on new imaging approaches and the use of microfluidics. Discussion on these topics provided new insights into the biology of these pathogens and enriched the field with new ideas for understanding why colonization of the intracellular niche of eukaryotic cells is a preferred strategy used by important human pathogens.
host response; intracellular pathogen
The recent EORTC-NCI-ASCO Annual Meeting on ‘Molecular Markers in Cancer’ was held on 15–17 November 2007 in Brussels, Belgium. It was the largest meeting to date and marked the first year in which the American Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) joined in the efforts of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in organizing this annual event. More than 300 clinicians, pathologists, laboratory scientists and representatives from regulatory agencies and the pharmaceutical industry came together for three days of intense discussion, debate and reflection on the latest biomarker therapeutic discoveries, strategies and clinical applications. The poster discussion sessions featured 79 research abstracts. The three most outstanding abstracts, all authored by young female researchers, were selected for presentation during the main meeting sessions. Highlights of each scientific session are presented.
The 2001 U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Biomedical Informatics Roadmap Meeting was devoted to developing a strategic plan in four focus areas: Hospital and Clinical Informatics, E-Health, Combat Health Informatics, and Bioinformatics and Biomedical Computation. The driving force of this Roadmap Meeting was the recent accelerated pace of change in biomedical informatics in which emerging technologies have the potential to affect significantly the Army research portfolio and investment strategy in these focus areas. The meeting was structured so that the first two days were devoted to presentations from experts in the field, including representatives from the three services, other government agencies, academia, and the private sector, and the morning of the last day was devoted to capturing specific biomedical informatics research needs in the four focus areas. This white paper summarizes the key findings and recommendations and should be a powerful tool for the crafting of future requests for proposals to help align USAMRMC new strategic research investments with new developments and emerging technologies.
The 5th Symposium on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal, held in Montpellier (France), 13–18 June 2010, brought together more than 220 researchers exemplifying a wide diversity of approaches to the study of frugivory and dispersal of seeds. Following Ted Fleming and Alejandro Estrada's initiative in 1985, this event was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first meeting in Veracruz, Mexico. Frugivory and seed dispersal are active research areas that have diversified in multiple directions since 1985 to include evolution (e.g. phylogenetic diversity and dispersal adaptations), physiology (e.g. sensory cues and digestion), landscape ecology (movement patterns), molecular ecology (e.g. gene flow, genetic diversity and structure), community ecology (e.g. mutualistic interaction networks) and conservation biology (effects of hunting, fragmentation, invasion and extinction), among others. This meeting provided an opportunity to assess conceptual and methodological progress, to present ever more sophisticated insights into frugivory in animals and dispersal patterns in plants, and to report the advances made in examining the mechanisms and consequences of seed dispersal for plants and frugivores.
conservation biology; dispersal; fragmentation; frugivory; hunting; movement ecology
Health research is increasing in Africa, but most resources are currently chanelled towards infectious diseases and health system development. While infectious diseases remain a heavy burden for some African countries, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for more than half of all deaths globally and WHO predicts 27% increase in NCDs in Africa over the next decade. We present findings of a European-Africa consultation on the research agenda for NCDs.
A workshop was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, organized by the Network for the Coordination and Advancement of Sub-Saharan Africa-European Union Science and Technology Cooperation (CAAST-Net). Drawing on initial presentations, a small expert group from academic, clinical, public-health and administrative positions considered research needs in Africa for cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Research in Africa can draw from different environmental and genetic characteristics to understand the causes of the disease, while economic and social factors are important in developing relevant strategies for prevention and treatment. The suggested research needs include better methods for description and recording, clinical studies, understanding cultural impacts, prevention strategies, and the integrated organisation of care. Specific fields proposed for research are listed.
Our paper contributes to transparency in the process of priority-setting for health research in Africa. Although the European Union Seventh Framework Research Programme prioritises biomedical and clinical research, research for Africa should also address broader social and cultural research and intervention research for greatest impact. Research policy leaders in Africa must engage national governments and international agencies as well as service providers and research communities. None can act effectively alone. Bringing together the different stakeholders, and feeding the results through to the European Union research programme is a valuable contribution of CAAST-Net.
The EMBnet Conference 2008, focusing on 'Leading Applications and Technologies in Bioinformatics', was organized by the European Molecular Biology network (EMBnet) to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Since its foundation in 1988, EMBnet has been working to promote collaborative development of bioinformatics services and tools to serve the European community of molecular biology laboratories. This conference was the first meeting organized by the network that was open to the international scientific community outside EMBnet. The conference covered a broad range of research topics in bioinformatics with a main focus on new achievements and trends in emerging technologies supporting genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics analyses such as high-throughput sequencing and data managing, text and data-mining, ontologies and Grid technologies. Papers selected for publication, in this supplement to BMC Bioinformatics, cover a broad range of the topics treated, providing also an overview of the main bioinformatics research fields that the EMBnet community is involved in.
The inaugural IgM event entitled “The new ParaDIgm: IgM from bench to clinic” brought together the increasingly active and growing IgM antibody community to discuss recent advances and challenges facing the discovery and development of IgM antibody therapies and technologies. Researchers, clinicians and biomanufacturing experts delivered 21 talks on the basic science and isolation of IgM, upstream and downstream development, and formulation and clinical development of the molecules. Participants networked around topics aimed at exploring the full potential of IgM antibodies. The meeting was held at DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e. V. (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology), a non-profit scientific and technical society based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The meeting was sponsored by Patrys, Laureate Biopharma, Bio-Rad Laboratories, BIA Separations, Percivia and the Bio Affinity Company (BAC). The second New ParaDIgm: IgM from bench to clinic meeting, will be held on April 23–24, 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany.
IgM antibody; IgM purification; PAT-SM6; antibody stability; mAb 216
Research embracing systems biology approaches and careful analysis of the critical host response has greatly expanded our understanding of infectious diseases. First-generation studies based on genomics and proteomics have made significant progress in establishing the foundation for network-based investigations on virus-host interactions. More recently, data from complementary high-throughput technologies, such as siRNA and microRNA screens and next-generation sequencing, are augmenting systems level analyses and are providing a more detailed and insightful multidimensional view of virus-host networks. Together with advances in data integration, systems biology approaches now have the potential to provide profound impacts on translational research, leading to the more rapid development of new therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases. In this review, we highlight new high-throughput technologies, a new philosophy for studying virus-host interactions, and discuss the potential of systems biology to facilitate bench-to-bedside research and create novel strategies to combat disease. Can we save the world using these approaches? Read on.
Europrise is a Network of Excellence supported by the European Commission within the 6th Framework programme from 2007 to 2012. The Network has involved over 50 institutions from 13 European countries together with 3 industrial partners and 6 African countries. The Network encompasses an integrated program of research, training, dissemination and advocacy within the field of HIV vaccines and microbicides. A central and timely theme of the Network is the development of the unique concept of co-usage of vaccines and microbicides. Training of PhD students has been a major task, and some of these post-graduate students have here summarized novel ideas emanating from presentations at the last annual Europrise meeting in Prague. The latest data and ideas concerning HIV vaccine and microbicide studies are included in this review; these studies are so recent that the majority have yet to be published. Data were presented and discussed concerning novel immunisation strategies; microbicides and PrEP (alone and in combination with vaccines); mucosal transmission of HIV/SIV; mucosal vaccination; novel adjuvants; neutralizing antibodies; innate immune responses; HIV/SIV pathogenesis and disease progression; new methods and reagents. These – necessarily overlapping topics - are comprehensively summarised by the Europrise students in the context of other recent exciting data.
HIV; Vaccine; Microbicide; PrEP
Due to the great socioeconomic burden of allergic diseases, research in this field which is important for environmental medicine is currently increasing. Therefore the European Union has initiated the Global Allergy and Asthma European network (GA2LEN). However, despite increasing research in the past years detailed scientometric analyses have not been conducted so far. This study is the first scientometric analysis in a field of growing interest. It analyses scientific contributions in European allergy research between 2001 and 2007. Three different meetings of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology were analysed for contributions and an increase in both the amount of research and networks was found.
A symposium on the mechanisms of action of inhaled airborne particulate matter (PM), pathogenic particles and fibers such as silica and asbestos, and nanomaterials, defined as synthetic particles or fibers less than 100 nm in diameter, was held on October 27 and 28, 2005, at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Conference Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The meeting was the eighth in a series of transatlantic conferences first held in Penarth, Wales, at the Medical Research Council Pneumoconiosis Unit (1979), that have fostered long-standing collaborations between researchers in the fields of mineralogy, cell and molecular biology, pathology, toxicology, and environmental/occupational health.
The goal of this meeting, which was largely supported by a conference grant from the NHLBI, was to assemble a group of clinical and basic research scientists who presented and discussed new data on the mechanistic effects of inhaled particulates on the onset and development of morbidity and mortality in the lung and cardiovascular system. Another outcome of the meeting was the elucidation of a number of host susceptibility factors implicated in adverse health effects associated with inhaled pathogenic particulates.
New models and data presented supported the paradigm that both genetic and environmental (and occupational) factors affect disease outcomes from inhaled particulates as well as cardiopulmonary responses. These future studies are encouraged to allow the design of appropriate strategies for prevention and treatment of particulate-associated morbidity and mortality, especially in susceptible populations.
The Sixth meeting of the International Society for the Prevention of Tobacco Induced Diseases (ISPTiD) was held in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 2–4, 2007 and has brought together 140 participants, scientists and experts in this specialized field from 30 countries across the World. The central theme of the conference was the "Translational Approaches to the Prevention of Tobacco Induced Diseases". Discussions held during the three days meeting's sessions (including poster session and platform discussion) promoted a better understanding of the connection between tobacco use and associated medical and health consequences. The Sixth Annual meeting of ISPTiD served as another successful step toward decrease in the huge sociological and economical burden that the entire World is facing with this addiction. The proceedings of the meeting were published in the conference booklet, the ISPTiD global web site and Cancer Database abstract web site. Funds generated from this meeting helped in part to establish the society's Journal "Tobacco Induced Diseases "into the major scientific journal index PubMed database and BioMed Central. The meeting set the tone for next the Annual meeting in Kyoto, Japan for the year 2008 with the theme "Tobacco free future".
Network Tools and Applications in Biology (NETTAB) Workshops are a series of meetings focused on the most promising and innovative ICT tools and to their usefulness in Bioinformatics. The NETTAB 2011 workshop, held in Pavia, Italy, in October 2011 was aimed at presenting some of the most relevant methods, tools and infrastructures that are nowadays available for Clinical Bioinformatics (CBI), the research field that deals with clinical applications of bioinformatics.
In this editorial, the viewpoints and opinions of three world CBI leaders, who have been invited to participate in a panel discussion of the NETTAB workshop on the next challenges and future opportunities of this field, are reported. These include the development of data warehouses and ICT infrastructures for data sharing, the definition of standards for sharing phenotypic data and the implementation of novel tools to implement efficient search computing solutions.
Some of the most important design features of a CBI-ICT infrastructure are presented, including data warehousing, modularity and flexibility, open-source development, semantic interoperability, integrated search and retrieval of -omics information.
Clinical Bioinformatics goals are ambitious. Many factors, including the availability of high-throughput "-omics" technologies and equipment, the widespread availability of clinical data warehouses and the noteworthy increase in data storage and computational power of the most recent ICT systems, justify research and efforts in this domain, which promises to be a crucial leveraging factor for biomedical research.