Rare diseases are uncommon, but there are still thousands of different conditions which together affect between 27-36 million people in the EU. This month, Horizon examines the latest efforts to tackle rare diseases as well as new technology to better diagnose uncommon conditions and novel ways to reduce the socioeconomic burden of unusual disorders.
Rare muscle diseases have a devastating impact on the affected individual and their families, but 3D-drug screening could lead to better medicines being developed which would also relieve the huge economic toll of their treatment.
A new EU-wide approach to funding rare disease research could help patients secure access to new treatments, says Dr Daria Julkowska, scientific coordinator on rare diseases at the French National Research Agency.
Regenerative medicine takes a different approach to treating disease by aiming to regrow, repair or replace tissues and organs to restore their normal functions instead of just treating symptoms. This month, Horizon takes a deeper look at the promise of this emerging field and takes stock of where we are now. We look at how scientists are beginning human trials of a technique that repurposes cells from one part of the body to treat disorders in another, and find out how 3D printing is helping to tackle arthritis. We also look at the challenges of mass producing the raw materials for regenerative medicine - stem cells - and some of the regulatory and ethical issues that are emerging as the industry develops.
Every minute, satellites and sensors collect enormous amounts of data about the world around us – from temperature to pollution and forest cover to soil quality. This month, Horizon looks into the technologies behind Earth observation and how we can make best use of the vast amounts of information produced. We find out how measurements taken by people with smartphones on the ground can feed into local datasets and how the minituarisation of satellites is creating opportunities for start-ups to enter the Earth observation market. We also discover how measurements are being used to protect ecosystems and what historical data can tell us about extreme weather such as hurricanes and droughts.
Dr Gabriella Colucci, the founder of two biotechnology companies that discover new plant-based molecules for industrial use, has won the top award of €100,000 in the 2018 EU Prize for Women Innovators, which was presented at a ceremony in Brussels, Belgium on 21 June.
Internet of Things and social inclusion enterprises also recognised.
Expert networks have sprung into action to contain the disease.
The European Commission has launched plans for the next research funding programme.