Institute of Experimental Medicine CAS

IEM CAS will participate in the international project Astrotech

07. 12. 2020

The aim of the project is to develop innovative technologies to study the behavior of some glial cells in cognitive functions and in various brain diseases.

In addition to neurons, there are other cells in the brain that play a key role in the proper functioning of the CNS. In the last four decades, cells called astrocytes have been shown to be crucial for brain function and dysfunction. In particular, astrocyte dysfunction is the cause of many diseases (depression, epilepsy, stroke, autism and some types of CNS cancer - so-called gliomas).

The necessary technology lacks  more detailed research into these key cells. The devices used to study astrocytes were originally developed to study neurons, which differ in structure and function compared to glial cells.

Astrotech is a project of the European innovative educational network Marie Curie - Sklodowska, which will create and develop a new field called "Glial Engineering" and will provide a consistent range of new technologies for recording, studying and manipulating astrocytes in healthy and damaged brains. It will focus mainly on research in the fields of neuroscience, biomaterials, nanotechnologies, optogenetics, electronic and photonic devices, computational methods, and more.

The project will train 15 young neuroscientists in the above areas of research.

The project will involve 25 public research institutions, universities and other partners from 9 European countries and from countries outside the EU community. IEM CAS is the only representative from the Czech Republic.

Astrotech is part of the Horizon 2020 program - "Excellent science", which is the largest project of the European Commission supporting research and innovation. To provide the bigger picture, a total of € 80 billion has been invested in the program over the last 7 years.

Research is expected to provide essential knowledge about glial cells and their effect on brain function, as well as new insights into the specific diagnosis and treatment of glioma, ischemia, epilepsy and depression.

In addition, it will deepen the cooperation of scientists across different scientific disciplines. Support for mutual cooperation between the commercial and academic spheres is also expected.

The project officially started on November 1st, 2020, and has a duration of 36 months. It will be financed by the amount of 3.98 million EUR. The project will be coordinated and managed by the Italian National Research Council (Cnr-Isof) in Bologna.

In connection with the project, an official press release was recently published. A specific website dedicated to the project is also being prepared.

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