Funded Projects

basin
PROJECT

3rd Joint Call: REBECCA

Climate change and socio-economic growth are projected to severely challenge river basin development worldwide. This is particularly relevant in monsoonal Southeast Asia, where large water storage systems play a key role for securing water, energy, and food to a rapidly growing and changing society. The objective of this project is to develop a decision analytic framework for supporting the robust, strategic planning of river basins in monsoonal areas with respect to future changes in water availability (climate change) and demands (socio-economic and technological changes).
Posted on

The Background

Climate change and socio-economic growth are projected to severely challenge river basin development worldwide, calling for robust planning solutions with respect to such uncertain and evolving conditions. This is particularly relevant in monsoonal Southeast Asia, where large water storage systems play a key role for securing water, energy, and food to a rapidly growing and changing society. These systems require robust and adaptive operations capable of coping with high intra-annual and inter-annual hydroclimatic variability and to increasing frequency of extreme events. They also have to face multi-sector changing demands across multiple time scales, from daily operation to strategic river basin development.

The Project

The ambition of the project is to develop a decision analytic framework for supporting the robust, strategic planning of river basins in monsoonal areas with respect to future changes in water availability (climate change) and demands (socio-​economic and technological changes). The framework will integrate future climate scenarios, including a catalogue of extreme climate events, future water demand scenarios, and a high-​resolution infrastructure-​accounting hydrological model to build accurate projections of water availability that also include water management policies optimized by means of a strategic model, against which to assess sustainability and robustness of future river basin development plans. The focus will be on the Red River Basin, China-​Vietnam, a large transboundary river basin, where conflicts among different water uses, including hydropower production, flood control and water supply, and negative impacts on long-​term sustainability are expected to increase under the combined pressure of increasing water and energy demands, and climate change. Particularly, extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and extreme.

The Science

REBECCA will advance the current state-of-the-art from different scientific disciplines and integrate it within a multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary framework to support the robust, strategic planning of water infrastructures in river basins that will be highly impacted by climate and socio-economic changes, with a focus on monsoonal areas. The project will bring the current state-of-the-art of integrated water resources management a step further by: (i) developing a decision analytic framework that explicitly integrates multiple models and their feedbacks, including a detailed characterization of the co-variance between future hydro-climatic and socio-economic changes; (ii) quantifying the impacts of future hydro-climatic and socio-economic scenarios on water resources, planned infrastructures and strategic development plans of decision makers; (iii) identifying robust planning options (e.g., multi-purpose water reservoirs) that are able to deal with a vast array of highly uncertain future changes and still perform satisfactorily with respect to economic, environmental and societal aspects in order to foster environmentally and economically sustainable growth.

The Team

Project coordinator: Prof. Dr. Paolo Burlando, Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Prof. Dr. Andrea Castelletti, Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Dr. Anna Costa, Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Prof. Dr. Andreas H. Fink, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Dr. Roderick van der Linden, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Dr. Van Anh Truong, Meteorology and Hydrology Faculty, Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam

 

Contact: Prof. Dr. Paolo Burlando, Dr. Anna Costa

featured image from R. Beránek
PROJECT

3rd Joint Call: FLOATCAT

The objective of this project is to develop a novel composite floating photocatalyst with synergic adsorption function applicable for solar photocatalytic detoxication of surface waters contaminated by non-polar organic pollutants. It is funded under the 3rd Call of Southeast Asia - Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation.
Posted on

Background

The project contributes to research on novel low-cost approaches to environmental remediation that belongs among national priorities in all countries of the involved partners. The proposed technology will have a broader applicability for removal of non-polar, poorly water-soluble contaminants (pesticides, petroleum products etc.) that represent environmental burden and health risk of global scope. More specifically, the application of the floating photocatalysts for water decontamination in remote rural areas of Vietnam and elsewhere will in long-term lead to improvement of health standards of poor and underprivileged people based in areas affected by the overuse of herbicides and other toxic organic substances.

The Project

The main technological objective of FLOATCAT is to develop a new type of low-cost floating photocatalyst for solar-driven removal of non-polar, poorly water-soluble contaminants that represent environmental burden and health risk of global scope. This will be achieved by incorporation of a specific sorption function with high affinity to non-polar substances, which should fundamentally improve the existing floating photocatalyst via a synergic effect. Within the proposed project, the research and development work will culminate in laboratory pilot tests aimed at validating the technology for decontamination of water contaminated with non-polar test contaminants (e.g., herbicide diuron, insecticide DDT).  The newly developed technology will have a wider applicability for cleaning different types of surface water.

The Science

The main scientific objective of FLOATCAT is to obtain novel scientific insights into the advantages and possible operational bottlenecks of photocatalysis in complex composite architectures represented by floating photocatalysts with integrated sorption functionality. In addition, the photocatalysts will be modified with co-catalysts for oxygen reduction, which should lead to a significant enhancement of photocatalytic degradation rates since the oxygen reduction is often the rate-limiting step in environmental photocatalysis. Notably, some of the intermediates of photocatalytic degradation reactions can be highly toxic. Therefore, it is essential to investigate kinetics and mechanism of such oxidative degradation processes by means of analyzing chemical composition and toxicity of the reaction mixtures for variable extent of irradiation. Kinetic and mechanistic studies of relevant pollutants will therefore play an important role in the project.

The Team:

The FLOATCAT partners are:

Prof. Dr. Radim Beránek: Institute of Electrochemistry, Ulm University, Germany

Dr. Jaromír Jirkovský, J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic

Ing. Jan Šubrt CSc.: Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic

Dr. Hoang Hiep: Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Environment, Vietnam National University of Agriculture, Hanoi, Vietnam

Contact:

Prof. Radim Beránek: radim.beranek@uni-ulm.de

 

featured image from R. Beránek

 

tuber
PROJECT

4th Joint Call: SMART-TB

Tuberculosis (TB) remains an urgent public health threat and a leading infectious cause of death worldwide. The SMART TB project propose a novel app that will not only screen patients who are being non-adherent, but will also guide healthcare providers to identify patients’ individual problem and to deliver the recommended personalized strategies
Posted on

Background

Tuberculosis (TB) remains an urgent public health threat and a leading infectious cause of death worldwide. Despite long-term support such as directly observed treatment to help patients complete their treatment, non-adherence to TB treatment is known to be suboptimal which leads to treatment failures, poor quality of life, or development of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The reasons underlying non-adherence are not entirely independent and are heterogeneous. Digital interventions are gradually being integrated into practice because of affordable mobile electronic devices in many settings. However, the flaws of some of the existing digital technologies to improve medication adherence are that they are not tailored to patients’ individual problems. The existing apps are commonly delivered as a one-size-fit-all intervention, assuming that the reasons for non-adherence are the same for the patients. We propose a novel app that will not only screen patients who are being non-adherent, but will also guide healthcare providers to identify patients’ individual problem and to deliver the recommended personalized strategies

 

The Project

The aim of this project is to develop a smart-phone application for health care providers that can be used for personalized interventions to improve medication adherence of TB patients (SMART-TB) in Indonesia. The proposed apps can be applied in primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities in Indonesia and can be adapted to other high-TB prevalence countries.

 

The Science

The SMART-TB app will be developed in Bahasa with five main functions, called SIM-CAR functions, as follow: Screening (to identify medication adherence problems in TB patients), Intervening (to intervene in TB patients’ individual problems of medication adherence), Monitoring (to monitor TB patients in taking their medication), Communicating (to communicate about medication adherence among TB officers (pharmacist/ TB programmer), TB patients, and TB experts), and Administrating (to register patient information related to medication adherence until the TB treatment outcomes are measured). In the first year, we will develop a prototype of the SMART-TB. Its content development will be performed through a literature review and qualitative study. In the second year, pilot testing will be conducted to validate the content and implementation of the prototype in a small-scale population representing rural and urban area. In the third year, the content and system of the SMART-TB will be validated based on the results of the pilot testing.

 

The Team

The SMART-TB partners are:

  • Coordinator: Rizky Abdulah, PhD, Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia
  • Prof. Jutti Levita, Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia
  • Ivan S. Pradipta, PhD, Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia
  • Sofa D. Alfian, M.PH, PharmD, Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia
  • Prof. dr. Eelko Hak, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Katja Taxis, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Jan-Willem Alffenaar, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
  • Job F. M. van Boven, PhD, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Esin Aki Yalcin, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey
  • Prof. Federico Gago, University of Alcala, Madrid, Spain
  • Ly Le, PhD, Ho Chi Minh City International University, Vietnam

Contact: Rizky Abdulah, PhD; Email: r.abdulah@unpad.ac.id

MOISTURE
PROJECT

4th Joint Call: MOISTURE

Energy storage and conversion devices are necessary for the utilization of renewable energy sources viz. solar and wind. The challenge however is how to make these devices safe, affordable and stable in performance.
Posted on

Background

Metal oxide nanoparticles (MONs) have attracted significant attention to energy storage and conversion applications. The substantial benefits of MONs consist of: (1) structural changes allowing for the attraction of lattice criteria (2) changes in electrochemical attributes due to the quantum confinement effect and (3) changes in surface properties leading to drastic modification of their conductivity and chemical activity. Different types of MON e.g. MnO2 and Zn2SnO4 (ZTO) have been thoroughly investigated for photovoltaic and battery applications. Nevertheless, MONs exhibit uncommon adsorptive properties and fast diffusivities, and they are not stable in critical conditions. There is great interest in using a barrier layer made of very thin layers of stable metal oxides coatings e.g. Al2O3, ZnO, and SnO2. In the synthesis and application of the protective coatings of MONs, real challenges arise which have high potential whether for industrial applications or academic research.

 

The Project

 

The primary objective of this joint project is to generate a stable energy storage i.e. a zinc-ion battery (ZIB) as well as energy conversion (Perovskite solar cell) devices. This will be achieved by optimizing particle sizes, morphologies, structure, and phases of Metal Oxide Nanoparticles (MONs) via an inexpensive and eco-friendly hydrothermal process and depositing a protective Metal Oxide (MO) coating on its surface via Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) process.

 

The Science

 

Metal oxide (MO) layers are well-known candidates for barrier layers in a variety of energy devices. Among the metal oxides, aluminum oxide, titanium oxide, zirconium oxide, tin oxide, and various nanolaminates of these materials, grown from atomic layer deposition (ALD), have been proven to provide promising thin-film barriers. ALD deposited MO layers provide substantial protection from water, oxygen, and other corrosive species and can be employed to enhance the long-term stability of sensitive devices such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) or organic / perovskite solar cells.

 

The concept of ALD coating has also been widely employed to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries (LiBs). For instance, the ALD of Al2O3 film on LiCoO2 minimizes Co dissolution and reduces surface electrolyte reactions. In addition, ALD of Al2O3 on LiMn2O4/carbon electrodes was found not only to serve as a physical barrier between the electrolyte and the electrode, but also to exhibit relatively good ionic conductivity which prevents a significant increase in polarization resistance. Moreover, Al2O3 coating significantly mitigates side reactions of active materials without restricting the uptake and release of lithium ions. Later on, the concept of barrier coating was applied in ZIBs wherein it was found that self-discharge of the battery was considerably suppressed without sacrificing battery performance by coating a thin layer coating of Al2O3 onto the surface of the zinc particles. 

 

Even though the technique of spatial atmospheric pressure atomic layer deposition (SAP-ALD) enables roll to roll (R2R) implementation of ALD, it is a slow technique with growth rates ranging in some few nm / s. This is mainly due to the necessity for a layer-by-layer buildup of the volume. Hence, a reduction of the necessary ALD cycles, while simultaneously maintaining the unique layer properties, is highly desirable, due to the direct impact in lowering production costs. A promising approach to improve this position is to grow the ALD layer on top of the nanoparticle scaffold. This is believed to improve the effective barrier volume without the need for additional ALD cycles. 

 

Among metal oxide electron-transporting materials, zinc tin oxide (ZTO) is one of the promising semiconductors due to its chemical stability towards acid/base and ambient environments, its high electron mobility of 10-25 cm2 V-1 s-1, wide optical bandgap (3.8 eV), and compatible conduction band edge (3.8-4.0 eV) with that of perovskite materials. In addition, it was reported that the perovskite solar cell with the ZTO nanoparticle (NP) layer showed the enhanced ambient stability under 30 ± 5 %relative humidity in comparison with the one without ZTO. Particle size and crystallinity also have a strong effect on electron collection ability owing to the interconnection between individual nanoparticles. Highly crystalline having a relatively large particle size is required for efficient electron collection. At the same time, the particle size (due to concomitant interspace) is expected to influence the diffusion of ALD precursor into a NP scaffold. Consequently, a deeper understanding of the interplay between NP size/shape and the ALD growth properties (most prominently temperature to promote precursor diffusion) and their impact on the resulting layer barrier properties is highly desirable.

 

The Team

 

Project Coordinator:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Soorathep Kheawhom

Faculty of Engineering

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

 

Asst. Prof. Dr. Pipat Ruankham

Faculty of Science

Chiang Mai University, Thailand

 

Dr. Rongrong Cheacharoen

Metallurgy and Materials Science Research Institute,

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

 

Dr. Ryan D. Corpuz

CEO, Nanolabs LRC Co. Ltd.

Team lead, iNano Research Facility

De La Salle University-Manila, The Philipines

 

Dr. Lyn Marie DJ. Corpuz

CTO, Nanolabs LRC Co. Ltd.

Resident Scientist, Research Center for Natural and Applied Sciences

University of San Tomas

 

Prof. Dr. Thomas Riedl

Chair of Electronic Devices

University of Wuppertal, Germany

 

 

DIRECTION
PROJECT

3rd Joint Call: DIRECTION

Cassava yields can be significantly increased through irrigation, but there farmers lack guidance on when and how to irrigate. DIRECTION project will study irrigation practices using a participatory approach and develop a mobile phone based decision support app.
Posted on

Background

Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, will face major water scarcity problems in the future. Agriculture uses more than 70% of the consumed water in Thailand, and changing climate patterns have led to droughts and irregular rainfall in cassava growing regions. The challenge for Southeast Asia is to remain an important producer of agricultural crops while optimizing yields, manage water use efficiently, and guarantee a livelihood for farmers. Therefore an effective water management needs to be implemented. Especially, cassava growers are small-scale farmers with a low-income need to implement a sustainable use of resources including water. Cassava production can be significantly increased through irrigation, but solutions to optimize cassava yields need to be affordable and make effective use of limited water available.

 

The Project

The project brings together plant eco-physiologists, engineers, agronomists, extension workers and cassava farmers in a set of three participatory workshops in which we exchange knowledge, identify challenges and design solutions. We will test solutions and monitor results with recently developed on-farm sensor technology. One such solution will be model based irrigation. The model will use on-farm sensory data and weather data to make yield predictions and deliver information through a mobile app. Necessary plant physiological data will be collected in managed trials on experimental farms and in targeted greenhouse experiments. 

 

The Science

Plant Physiology: Cassava root systems are sensitive to soil water conditions affecting yield directly through storage root formation and loss (rot). Irrigation thus not only supplies the crop with water, but also steers its development. The project aims to get a more fundamental understanding of this interaction, and to develop relationships that can be used to improve model-based cassava yield predictions. 

Agronomy: The project explores better irrigation practices for cassava, and the applicability of such practices on real farms. 

Engineering: The project tests exploitation of low-cost sensors in real-world conditions and integration of sensor data into an easy mobile phone base app. 

Mathematical crop modeling: The project will develop a novel cassava crop model, with stronger foundations in root eco-physiology. 

 

The Team

The DIRECTION partners are:

  • Coordinator : Dr. Ir. Johannes A. Postma, Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Juelich, Germany
  • Asst. Prof. Dr Treenut Saithong, 2) Asst. Prof. Dr Saowalak Kalapanulak, 3) Dr. Warakorn Rattanaareekul & 4) Dr. Tanyarat  Khongkhuntian. King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Dr. Teera Phatrapornnant, National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, National Science and Technology Development Agency, Bangkok, Thailand (NECTEC / NSTDA).
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Poramate Banterng, Agronomy Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand
  • Prof. Le Huy Ham, Agricultural Genetics Institute (AGI / VNU), Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Science, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Dr. Wojciechowski. Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute for Bio- and Geosciences (Plant Sciences, IBG-2), Jülich, Germany

 

Contact: Dr. Ir. J.A.Postma j.postma@fz-juelich.de 

DAADTHEMAC
PROJECT

4th Joint Call: DAADTHEMAC

Neural angiostrongyliasis, the cause of eosinophilic meningitis, is a consequence of the migration of larvae of the nematode parasite (rat lungworm) Angiostrongylus cantonensis in humans and animals. Resulting disease, termed also Angiostrongylus Eosinophilic Meningitis (AEM) is considered a prominent Emerging Infectious Disease.
Posted on

Background

Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a unique pathogen that is predominantly dependent on invasive rodent and mollusc hosts. Continuing spread of these organisms has led to wide distribution of AEM throughout the tropics. The majority of clinical cases are reported from SE Asia (the highest incidence in Thailand), however, the disease is broadly distributed in Pacific regions (French Polynesia, Hawaii, Australia) with recent invasions into continental USA. Recently, the pathogen was discovered in rats in the Canary Islands and two year ago, clinical human AEM cases were reported in France. Most recently, in 2019, the parasite was detected in Mallorca, Spain, demonstrating immediate risk of spread in southern parts of EU territories.

 

The Project

This project aims to develop a novel diagnostic tool for human eosinophilic meningitis caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, namely a LAMP assay for AC detection in clinical cases, in various organism that serve as infection sources and in environmental samples. Our project consortium combines teams with expertise in various fields of human and veterinary medicine, ecology and infection biology. Project benefits from experience of EU and Thailand teams with development of molecular-based diagnostic tools including the LAMP technology, equipment and experimental work with AC, combined with partnerships/collaboration with research teams from countries with high incidences of AEM clinical cases in SE Asia (Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia). With synergic involvement of adjunct research partners from Australia, Spain, Italy and UK, the project team aims at (i) technological progress in AEM clinical diagnostics, (ii) detection of AC in food chains and (iii) understanding of local as well as global epidemiology of this emerging disease.

 

The Science

As the epidemiology of AEM involves humans, various mammals and birds, invertebrates, as well as environmental components, the One Health approach represents an ultimate avenue in diagnostics and prevention of this emerging disease.  As a result, composition of the consortium, the project involves experimental activities associated with development, optimization and experimental testing of developed assays, alongside clinical evaluation in medical facilities in SEA and detection of AC in the food chain and environment. Proposed LAMP diagnostics offer a range of advantages over other diagnostic approaches as it is applicable in field and clinical conditions as does not require time consuming and technologically demanding steps. The results of this project can be immediately disseminated and translated into sensitization of local populations and public awareness, respecting given cultural context and stage of development of partnering ASEAN countries.  

 

The Team

  • Prof. David Modry, Dr. Vojto Baláž and Barbora Fecková, DVM / Biology Center of Czech Academy of Sciences v.v.i., Branišovská 1160/31, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic

 

  • Muhammad Hambal, DVM, Ph.D. / Syiah Kuala University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Banda Aceh

 

  • Prof. Jan Slapeta / University of Sydney, School of Veterinary Science, Sydney, Australia

 

  • Prof. Domenico Otranto / University of Bari, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Bari, Italy

 

  • Prof. Pilar Foronda Rodríguez / Universidad de La Laguna, Instituto Universitario de Enfermedades Tropicales y Salud Pública de Canarias, Spain;

 

  • Dr. Nicholas Morant, OptiGene Limited, Horsham, UK

 

Contact

Prof. MVDr. David Modry, Ph.D. / Biology Center of Czech Academy of Sciences v.v.i., Branišovská 1160/31, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic, email: modrydav@gmail.com 

 

https://unsplash.com/@lunarts
PROJECT

2nd Joint Call: NEWTONIAN

The Asian liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini is intensively transmitted in Southeast Asia (SEA), particularly Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia. The helminth adult worm lives in human bile ducts of the liver where it causes a multitude of severe pathologies including cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a fatal bile duct cancer.
Posted on

Background

The Asian liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini is intensively transmitted in Southeast Asia (SEA), particularly Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia. The helminth adult worm lives in human bile ducts of the liver where it causes a multitude of severe pathologies including cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a fatal bile duct cancer. While in Northeast Thailand research on control tools and public health interventions have much advanced over the past decades, progress made in research and disease control is limited in Lao PDR and Cambodia and the interventions are rather temporary and focal.

There are major challenges for the successful control of O. viverrini infection and related morbidity. Firstly, the currently widely available diagnostic techniques (e.g. Kato-Katz) have a low sensitivity. Secondly, the extent of morbidity (disease) associated with the O. viverrini infection is unknown in many O. viverrini endemic settings. Thirdly, given the lack of adequate regional estimations of O. viverrini infection and the related mortality and morbidity, the currently employed level of control initiatives cannot be adequate planned.

 

The Project

Our project consortium, consisting of four institutions in Switzerland, Thailand, Lao PDR and Cambodia, each having several decades of experience in Asian liver fluke research and control, aims to develop new tools to control of O. viverrini infection and associated morbidity and mortality in SEA region. Our objectives are (i) to regionally validate a promising rapid diagnostic tests for O. viverrini infection in field sites in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand; (ii) to compile existing data on O. viverrini infection and associated mortality and morbidity in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand and complement them with additional survey data in areas where only sparse information is available; and (iii) to predict the risk of O. viverrini infection and related mortality and morbidity across Southeast Asia.

 

The Science

This transnational project will lead into a SEA regional view of O. viverrini infection and related morbidity and mortality. For objective (i), a field validation of the urine based detection of circulating O. viverrini will be performed. Two promising tests will be validated: A urine- and a corpro-antigen based diagnostic test, which have a documented high potential for further development. The validation will take into account the different levels of endemicity of O. viverrini infection, and the helminthic co-infections. It will be performed in settings in Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia. For objective (ii) an database will be created where existing geo-localized data on O. viverrini infection and associated morbidity will be combined with newly surveyed data. A systematic review of published literature on O. viverrini infection, and related morbidity and mortality will be conducted to achieve a most comprehensive database. For objective (iii), the database will be used for the prediction of O. viverrini infection, morbidity and mortality in area where no data is available and across all three endemic countries by using a well-established Bayesian geo-statistical modelling approach.

 

The Team

Prof Penelope Vounatsou and Prof Peter Odermatt, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

Dr. Somphou Sayasone, Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute, Ministry of Health, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Dr. Virak Khieu, National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, Ministry of Health, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Professor Paiboon Sithithaworn, Parasitology Department and Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute, Khon Kaen University (KKU), Khon Kaen, Thailand

 

Contact

Professor Peter Odermatt, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Epidemiology and Public Health Department, PO Box, 4002 Basel, Switzerland, Email: peter.odermatt@swisstph.ch

 

Featured image from unsplash.com

Hammerschmidt, S., S. Wolff, A. Hocke, S. Rosseau, E. Muller, and M. Rohde. 2005. Illustration of pneumococcal polysaccharide capsule during adherence and invasion of epithelial cells. Infect Immun 73:4653-4667.
PROJECT

2nd Joint Call: PNEUMOFLUIDICS

The serological diagnosis of pneumococcal disease on the basis of a single antigen is a challenge, because natural antibodies caused by previous colonization events and the antigenic variability of pneumococci are impaired. A combination of validated immunogenic antigens high-throughput diagnostics is needed to differentiate diseased and healthy people
Posted on

Background

Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as the pneumococcus, is a Gram-positive pathogen recognized as a major cause of pneumonia worldwide. It resides as a commensal in the nasopharynx of healthy carriers, but in susceptible individuals this bacterium can spread to other body locations and cause life-threatening disease. The main group risks are the elderly, immunocompromised people and infants. In fact, approximately 900,000 children die each year due to pneumococcal disease, of which >90% occur in developing countries. In addition, a high number of pneumococcal infection cases are diagnosed in developed countries and can be associated with high morbidity in children and are an important factor that influences quality of life and produces significant mortality in adults. There are licensed polysaccharide-based vaccines to prevent pneumococcal infections, but their efficacy is limited. Therefore, pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) remains as an important health problem and once it has occurred, early diagnosis with accurate diagnostic methods is essential in order to provide patients with prompt and appropriate therapy. The ability to identify pneumococci as a causative agent in lung infections is quite limited and blood cultures are often negative. Serological diagnosis of pneumococcal disease based on a single antigen is often challenging, due to the interference of natural antibodies elicited by previous colonization events and the antigenic variability. Therefore, to better discriminate between diseased and healthy people, a combination of antigens would be desirable.

 

The Project

The aim of PNEUMOFLUIDICS is to develop an innovative point-of-care diagnostic for the early detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) infections on a serological basis. Results of multiplex analyses will be transferred to a microfluidic protein array (MPA), i.e. a biosensor on which proteins are immobilized and on which a novel serodiagnostic method can be established with minimal serum samples.

 

The Science

Research aims to develop a sensitive and quantitative tests for the rapid and specific detection of pneumococcal infections. For the validation of a microfluidic protein array (MPA), the detection of IgM antibodies as well as specific IgG antibodies will be performed in larger patient cohorts using initially well-established multiplex platforms for pneumococcal antigens. Selected pneumococcal antigens can also be used for immunostrips that will be probed with independent sets of patient sera. These immunostrips are a diagnostic test can be an easy-to-use tool for diagnosis in healthcare systems, especially in low-resource areas. The pneumococcal-specific MPA will be further used for a broad range of applications such as monitoring epidemiological episodes or discovering new protein vaccine candidates. This strategy will help to distinguish between patients with different diseases. The multiplex platforms or MPA can be employed in epidemiological surveillance programs to monitor possible outbreaks of pneumococcal disease around the world.

 

The Team

The PNEUMOFLUIDICS partners are:

  • Coordinator : Prof. Dr. Sven Hammerschmidt,  Department of Molecular Genetics and Infection Biology, Interfaculty Institute of Genetics and Functional Genomics, Center for Functional Genomcis of Microbes,Universität Greifswald, Germany. 
  • Brio Apps AlphaSip S.L. (BAA), Calle María de Luna 11, Nave 13, Zaragoza 50018, Spain, represented by the CEO, Miguel Angel Roncalés Poza
  • Prof. Dr. Manuel J. Rodríguez Ortega, Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Edificio "Severo Ochoa", planta baja Campus de Rabanales, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain (subpartner of Brio Apps Alphasip)
  • Prof Dr. Shinta Purwanto, Universitas Sam Ratulangi (USR), Jalan Kampus Bahu Malalayang, Kota Manado 95115, North Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia
  • Dodi Safari, PhD, Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Jl. Diponegoro no 69, Jakarta, Indonesia 10430 (associated partner)
  • Dr. Moh Moh Htun, MBBS, MMedSc, PhD (Pathology),  Director (Research), Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), Department of Medical Research, No. 5, Ziwaka Road, Dagon Township, Yangon 11191, Myanmar

 

Contact: Prof. Dr. Sven Hammerschmidt; Email: sven.hammerschmidt@uni-greifswald.de

 

Featured image from:  Hammerschmidt, S., S. Wolff, A. Hocke, S. Rosseau, E. Muller, and M. Rohde. 2005.

Tags
https://unsplash.com/@lunarts
PROJECT

2nd Joint Call: BIOPLATE

The metallization of plastics, called Plating On Plastics (POP) for decorative and functional applications is an integral part of many branches of industry. In the automotive industry, for example, in car interiors, for sanitary fittings, for shielding electronic devices or in consumer goods industry for control elements on household appliances.
Posted on

Background

The metallization of plastics, called Plating On Plastics (POP) for decorative and functional applications is an integral part of many branches of industry. In the automotive industry, for example, in car interiors, for sanitary fittings, for shielding electronic devices or in consumer goods industry for control elements on household appliances. Electroplating usually refers to plating of metallic surfaces, and requires electric conductivity of the substrate, while the adhesion between layer and substrate is achieved by metal-metal bonds. These both aspects are not observed in POP as plastic is used. Therefore, POP processes rely on very special mechanism and pretreatment procedures. Furthermore, it is not possible to use any type of plastic for metallization in order to produce adhesive layers. Usually, POP products are based on acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene – polycarbonate (ABS/PC) blend substrates. Modern societies will change into a reduced or neutral carbon footprint way of living. This means not only the use of renewable energies; it means the use of renewable resources in general – including materials. The currently available bioplastics cannot be electroplated with the existing processes and development work has to be carried out. The important thing is that the biopolymer and the electrochemical processes are developed together.

The Project

The aim of the joint research project is an optimised electroplating process for tailor-made biopolymer materials. Biopolymers from renewable raw materials will be used in the field of "Plating On Plastic" (POP) to replace non-biodegradable and oil-based materials. From this point of view, the project will have a beneficial impact for the societal change from “oil-based to green” by the intermediate of more sustainable consumable goods, packaging and vehicles.

The Science

The research to reach the targets goes deep into material science and needs competences in different disciplines of material science as well as in biotechnology and chemistry. The multidisciplinary of the project is best seen in his dual approach of improving the process of metal deposition on plastic from two perspectives: the design, synthesis and surface preparation of a suitable biopolymer from renewable resources and the optimization of the deposition procedures and conditions. This demands on the one side knowledge on design and conducting bioprocesses for a target product and on the other hand, the know-how related to developing electroplating process chains.

Two research lines are proposed regarding the design of the polymer. First, a bio-based polymer or blend having a biphasic structure, similarly to ABS, will be targeted together with a standard electroplating process but involving a suitable non-CMR etching agent like sulfuric acid. A second approach utilizes the difference between the first and second crystallization rates observed for some PHA polymers. The surface pretreatment and the electroplating process must be tailored to the biopolymers.

The Team

The BIOPLATE partners are:

 

Contact: Dr.- Ing. Martin Metzner martin.metzner@ipa.fraunhofer.de

 

Featured image from unsplash.com

https://unsplash.com/@evanrclark
PROJECT

2nd Joint Call: SEA-dog-SEA

This project aims to explore the social and ecological dimensions of dog-associated zoonotic diseases in order to improve their management in rural areas of SE Asia (Socio-Ecological Approach of dog-borne diseases in SE Asia). It is funded under the 2nd Call of Southeast Asia - Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation.
Posted on

Background 

A large majority of human diseases is due to zoonotic pathogens, and a significant proportion of those originate from domestic animals. Dog was the first domesticated animal, with the initial centre for domestication located in Asia, and it is currently the most widespread and abundant human commensal. Dogs play an important role of reservoirs for major public health infectious threats, such as rabies. However, apart from rabies, dog-human epidemiological relationships have received relatively little attention, with disease such as cystic echinococcosis being classified as a neglected zoonotic disease. Similarly, is still unclear what roles dogs may play in Asia in the epidemiology of leptospirosis, emerging rickettsiosis or Japanese encephalitis. A key knowledge gap is the paucity of information regarding the behavioral, ecological, and socio-economic determinants of dog-human interactions in SE Asia, in order to improve the management of dog populations for veterinary and public health benefits.

 

The Project 

SEA-dog-SEA project will study the social and ecological dimensions of dog zoonotic diseases in rural sites selected in Indonesia (Bali), with additional sites in Cambodia and Thailand supported by complementary surveys. The field surveys will combine: i) dog ecology, population dynamics and contact network (GPS tracking, camera traps); ii) dog shared microbiome and prevalence of selected dog-borne diseases (e.g. leptospirosis, internal helminths and rickettsia); iii) perceptions and practices of local populations regarding dog keeping and management (anthropology, social-network of owners…): iv) modelling of multi-layered networks and zoonotic risks associated with dogs. The comparisons between countries will highlight the main drivers of dog-associated zoonotic risks and allow for improved management of dog populations for better prevention of spill-over risks.

 

The Science

The project adopts an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the linkages between dogs’ spatial behaviour and population dynamics with the socio-cultural and environmental characteristics of the study sites. The movements and distribution of selected dogs will be assessed during radio-tracking sessions using GPS collars, combined with camera-trap monitoring of marked/unmarked dog populations. A questionnaire survey (translated in Balinese/Thai/Khmer), key-informants interviews and participatory mapping will be carried out in the participating villages in order to assess local perceptions and practices regarding dog keeping and management. The screening of zoonotic pathogens in selected dogs will use standardised laboratory diagnostic techniques (rabies antibodies, leptospirosis, rickettsiosis… depending on the sites), while NGSs will be used to analyse the microbiota of sympatric free-ranging dogs based on faecal samples collected. The analysis of contact networks between dogs, and associated social networks between dog-owners, will aim at identifying key individuals/”superspreaders” and key areas/resources to target the management of spill-over risks..

 

The Team

The SEA-dog-SEA paartners are:

Contact

Michel de Garine-Wichatitsky: degarine@cirad.fr

 

Featured image from unsplash.com

Tags