Vector Biology Unit at MPIIB joins the Infravec2 project: A European Commission 10M€ effort to fight mosquito-transmitted diseases

February 27, 2017

On February 14, the European Commission officially approved the Infravec2 project. This project will improve the European large-scale facilities (infrastructures) for research on mosquitoes and other insects (vectors) that carry human and animal diseases, and will promote sharing of the facilities by European researchers. The Infravec2 project is funded by the Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructure Program. Infravec2 (full project title, “Research Infrastructures for the control of vector-borne diseases”) is an international consortium of 24 partner institutions coordinated by the Institut Pasteur, Paris. The project will continue through 2021, and has a 10 million euro budget. The project kickoff meeting will be in Paris 15-17 March 2017.

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other insects represent a major public health concern worldwide. The insects that carry these diseases are referred to as vectors. The illnesses include viral infections (such as dengue, Zika, and yellow fever), as well as parasitic diseases (such as malaria and leishmaniasis).

The Vector Biology Unit of the Max Plank Institute for Infection Biology (MPIIB) in Berlin Mitte brought to this project its expertise in mosquito immune system and its interactions with the deadly malaria parasites. The Vector Biology Unit headed by Dr. Elena A. Levashina, has established unique secure facilities for mosquito containment and experimental infections with Plasmodium parasites, as well as a cutting-edge genetic toolbox for functional studies in the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.

Infravec2’s main aim is to link together sophisticated facilities essential for research advancement in insect vector biology, and to allow researchers and companies access to these rare resources through a simple request process. Other key insect facilities include field sites in Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas. Infravec2 will increase researchers’ and innovators’ access to these facilities to benefit research and public health. The project will also develop novel methods and innovative technologies to advance research in this critical area for European and global public and animal health.

Infravec2’s long-term goal is to build a lasting European network of facilities to control insect vector-borne disease. A robust infrastructure will be able to respond to current insect spread disease epidemics. Equally important, Infravec2 will also contribute to Europe’s ability to predict and prevent the future insect carried disease outbreaks. Infravec2 will accelerate European innovation in basic and translational insect borne disease research.

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