The European Commission (EC) unveiled a new EUR 144 million funding package for medical research yesterday (February 28 ), coinciding with world Rare Disease Day. The funding will support 26 research projects into rare diseases, which currently affect some 30 million people across the EU, according to the EC.
“Most rare diseases affect children and most of them are devastating genetic disorders resulting in greatly reduced quality of life and premature death. We hope that these new research projects will bring patients, their families and health professionals closer to a cure and support them in their daily battle with disease,” said European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
The projects will unite over 300 participants from 29 countries in and outside Europe, including teams from leading academic institutions, SMEs and patient groups. The money will support a wide range of projects that will develop new medications and methods of managing and treating conditions, as well as understanding the root causes of the illnesses and finding better diagnostic techniques. Included in the projects is research aiming to develop an artificial liver that can be used for patients suffering from acute liver failure. Researchers are also working on the clinical development of a drug to treat alkaptonuria, a genetic disorder that leads to severe and early-onset arthritis and heart disease for which there is currently no treatment.