Projects 2012 - Summaries - Life Sciences
Project's Team: Haralabos Kalofonos (Coordinator, University of Patras), Angelos Koutras (University Hospital of Patras), Anna Antonacopoulou (University of Patras), Lambros Skarlas (University of Patras)
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer. Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody against VEGF, which inhibits angiogenesis, a crucial process for tumor growth. Until now, no definitive biomarkers have been indentified that can reliably predict benefit from bevacizumab. We propose the study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in patients with colorectal cancer who received bevacizumab as part of their treatment. We plan to use SNP microarrays and then validate the most important results by real time PCR in a larger cohort of patients. The aim of the current study is to discover genotypes and haplotypes able to distinguish patients on the basis of their response to bevacizumab. This will aid towards personalized therapeutic regimens with improved and cost efficient disease outcome.
Project's Team: Efthymios Manios (Coordinator, NCSR Demokritos), Vassiliki Gogola (University of Ioannina), Irene Grapsa (Areteion University Hospital of Athens)
End Stage Renal Disease patients must be subjected to permanent Hemodialysis (HD) with a typical schedule of three 4-hour sessions per week. Our proposal introduces the Magnetically Assisted Hemodialysis (MAHD), an efficient development of conventional HD. MAHD relies on the production of Ferromagnetic_Nanoparticle-Targeted_Binding_Substance Conjugates (FN-TBS Cs) constructed of biocompatible FNs and an appropriate TBS having high affinity for a specific Target_Toxic_Substance (TTS) that should be removed from the patient. Antibodies or even proteins could serve as TBSs. After administration of the FN-TBS Cs to the patient, the undesired TTSs will bind onto them while they circulate in the cardiovascular network. The complete FN-TBS-TTS structure can be selectively removed under the application of the so-called ‘magnetic dialyzer’ that is installed in series to the conventional dialyzer along the extracorporeal blood circulation line of the dialysis machine. Comparative simulation experiments will hopefully prove that MAHD is more efficient and less time-consuming than conventional HD.
Project's Team: Georgina Xanthou (Coordinator, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens), Tonia Vlahou (Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens), Mina Gaga (“Sotiria” Athens Chest Hospital), Sofia Tousa (Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens), Maria Semitekolou (Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens)
Asthma is a disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and inflammation. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for the suppression of inflammation and disease features in animal models. Still, in human asthma, Treg suppression is defective, a phenomenon often associated with exacerbations. Cytokines play a key role in the induction and suppressive function of Tregs. Studies by our group reveal that the cytokine activin-A promotes induction of mouse Tregs that suppress inflammation and protect against AHR and experimental asthma. They also showed that activin-A is increased in the lungs of asthmatics, pointing to a role in disease regulation. Here, we aim to investigate the role of activin-A in the induction of human Tregs suppressive against allergic responses of asthmatics in vitro. The molecular mediators involved in the immunosuppression will be characterized by a proteomics based approach. Our studies will pave the way for the design of new and effective therapies.
Project's Team: George Skavdis (Coordinator, Democritus University of Thrace), Panagiotis Bozelos (Democritus University of Thrace)
The most important insect pest of the olive tree, Olea europaea L. (Oleaceae), worldwide is the olive fruit ﬂy Bactrocera oleae. Although the use of chemical insecticides remains the gold standard for controlling B. oleae populations, it becomes increasingly clear, that alternative and/or complementary, more environmental friendly, approaches should be developed. The specific objective of this project is to develop a novel RNAi based method for the population control of olive fruit ﬂy. To this end, we intend to explore and compare alternative procedures for silencing the AChE gene of B. oleae (boAChE), which encodes acetylcholinesterase- a key enzyme for the function of the nervous system that is also of central role for the resistance to chemical insecticides. We strongly believe that our experimental results will pave the way for the development of novel, environmental friendly and species specific methods, for B. oleae control.
Project's Team: Kostas Triantis (Coordinator, University of Oxford), Aristeidis Parmakelis (University of Athens), Kanella Radea (University of Athens), Sofia Terzopoulou (University of Athens), Vasilis Papadogiannis (University of Athens)
Wetlands, despite their limited area globally, support an exceptionally large number of species. However, the status of these systems is deteriorating fast and wetlands are among the ecosystems with the highest rate of species driven to extinction. Thus, freshwater organisms are of exceptional conservation interest. Our research project has three goals; a) to assess and evaluate the population status of 10 freshwater snails species of Greece (9 are endemics); which, according to the recent report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are classified as either Extinct or Critically Endangered, b) to evaluate the status of the wetlands where the species are present and assess the main anthropogenic regime of threats and c) study the genetic/phylogenetic diversity of the Islamia species, the freshwater snail genus encompassing the highest risk of extinction, since three out of the four species (endemic all to Greece) are classified as Critically Endangered/Possibly Extinct.
Project's Team: Jan Traeger-Synodinos (Coordinator, University of Athens ), Christina Vrettou (University of Athens), Evgenios Goussetis (St. Sophia’s Children Hospital), Maria Tzetis (St. Sophia’s Children Hospital)
Thalassaemia syndromes, caused by reduced production of either a-globin (a-thalassaemia) or b-globin chains (b-thalassaemia) of haemoglobin, are amongst the most common monogenic disorders worldwide. Haemoglobin synthesis is a complex process, requiring correct tissue- and developmental stage-expression of globin genes. There is currently substantial information about regulation of normal and thalassaemic globin gene expression with respect to cis elements closely and more remotely situated to the globin genes and their clusters, and also about many of transcription factors and chromatin modifiers involved. miRNAs represent yet another level through which erythroid-specific gene expression could be controlled. However, information is so far limited. This study represents a preliminary investigation of possible differences in miRNA expression patterns in terminally-differentiated normal and thalassaemic erythrocytes, potentially identifying miRNA involved in regulating globin expression. The findings could ultimately represent novel targets and pathways for therapeutic interventions in the thalassaemia syndromes, a long-term goal of thalassaemia research.