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2011 Call for projects in the field of viral safety for biological products
   
  » Outcome

Call for 2009 Grant Applications

LETTER OF INTENT

During the two years since the Foundation was established, concern about the safety of blood and plasma products has markedly diminished because of the waning epidemics of both BSE and variant CJD, and in consequence the diminished probability of individuals donating blood while in the pre-clinical phase of disease.
This has led to a spectacular reduction in both public and private funding of TSE research, which has been foreseen for some time, and is now a fact of life for the TSE research community.

Partly because of this fact, partly because of technical difficulties, and partly because of a sequence of changes by UK regulators concerning criteria to be used for screening test approval, the number of laboratories actively involved in the development of a screening test to detect the pathognomonic ‘prion’ protein (PrPTSE) in the blood of infected individuals has diminished from more than a dozen a few years ago to just two current contenders: Amorfix and Prionics, both private companies. No information is available about what progress, if any, has been made by several other companies that in the past had reported promising results using a variety of novel test methods.

The alternative (or additional) strategy of processing steps that could destroy or remove the pathogenic agent from contaminated blood has led to at least two effective PrP ligand-based methods, developed by MacoPharma and Pall, and which (if approved) could be used in the UK as a routine procedure for individual units of blood.

The recent discovery of a variant CJD infection in a hemophiliac in the UK has aroused new concerns about the issue of secondary infections due to plasma protein therapy. The patient in question was an older adult male who died of causes unrelated to variant CJD, and infection was only established by the finding of a PrPTSE-positive lymph node at autopsy. Further details about both the patient and the Factor VIII that he received should be forthcoming in the near future, but are unlikely to be sufficient to determine whether the variant CJD infection was primary (from oral exposure to BSE meat products) or secondary (from Factor VIII therapy). Nevertheless, even the possibility that a plasma product could have been responsible has profound implications by virtue of the size of the population potentially exposed to such products, and the difficulty of tracing their source.

Thus, the mandate of the Foundation under the leadership of its presidency and its founders is to support efforts to ensure the safety of blood and plasma products from contamination by transmissible pathogens, and particularly contamination from TSE pathogens, continues to have current importance. In this context, the Scientific Council believes that research directed to eliminating risk of infection from blood, either by detection and deferral of infected donors, or by processing methods to remove the infectious agents from blood, still merit a high priority in the evaluations of grant applications for the coming year.

Moving from this highly specific proposal to a more general consideration of the kinds of research the Foundation should support in the coming years, the Council strongly believes that fundamental research aimed at defining the molecular basis of protein misfolding is central to the understanding and elimination of TSE (and in consequence any risk of disease transmission). Although TSE is (so far) the only protein misfolding disease known to be infectious, it seems likely that elucidation of the molecular basis of any one such disease could shed light on the others. It is even possible that other novel ‘replicating agents’ (e.g., the ‘nanon’, a self-propagating protein-mineraloid particle) could be relevant to the process of protein misfolding, or pose its own unique problem of transmissible risk in humans. For these reasons, the Council favors a broad and flexible future approach to all ‘atypical’ processes of pathogen replication and transmission as being appropriate to the goal of biosafety enunciated in the Foundation charter.

2009 Call for projects: Topics

  1. Research, development or validation of methods to detect prions in human or animal biological fluids & organs.
  2. Methods to remove or destroy potential prions contaminants in the production of biological products, or to remove or decontaminate instruments/surfaces.
  3. Elucidation of the misfolding process; characterization of the mechanics of the molecular transformation ; elucidation of the relationship of the misfolded protein and its molecular intermediates to the manifestations of disease.
  4. Epidemiology of prion diseases focused on emerging risk using innovative approaches in computer sciences, such as datamining, machine learning, modeling

The Alliance BioSecure Foundation makes available for use at a BSL-3 biosafety level (NeuroPrion Research Platform CEA Paris) the following equipment:
          Influx cell sorter dedicated to prions and other highly resistant pathogens
          Inverted confocal microscope

This 3rd call demonstrates Founders commitment (LFB, Baxter, MacoPharma, Steris) in Basic Research and Applied Research to a better knowledge on Biological risk

Total amount 450,000 Euros will be granted to the projects selected by the independent Scientific Board, composed by international experts managed by two co-presidents:
Dr Paul Brown, Former Senior Investigator at NIH (USA) and Dr Jean -Philippe Deslys, CEA, France, coordinator of Neuroprion Network, and approved by the board under the presidency of Dr J.F. Prost (LFB).

Eligibility Criteria

  • Relevance vs scope of the present call for proposal
  • Innovation & scientific excellence of the project
  • Team expertise in the field (both academic & Industrial teams can apply)
  • Feasibility and concordance of timelines with project's objectives

European teams, as well as non-European ones, can apply. Collaborative projects are welcomed

2009 Time schedule

  • Letters of Intent: Call Closing 15 May
  • Notification of Selected Projects for Full Grant Applications: 15 June
  • Deadline for receipt of Grant Applications: 15 July
  • Grants awarded: 25 September 2009 (Prion 2009 Meeting )
 
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