EUROPE: New medical research priorities for 2010

Health graduate students and researchers at universities and research institutes across the EU have a chance to win funding for potentially lucrative research projects in the field of adverse drug reactions, after the European Medicines Agency, Emea, announced its 2010 drug safety research priorities. The money will come from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.

Emea is an EU agency that promotes healthy populations by supervising and evaluating the use of medicines in humans and animals across Europe.

Choosing to focus on adverse drug reactions in 2010, particularly for vulnerable groups, Emea has identified six broad topics for adverse drug research, focusing on groups such as youth with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), pregnant women, and patients with depression and dementia.

Successful proposals must be submitted to the European Commission for approval by November and will receive funding in 2010 as part of the FP7's fourth annual call for research projects

Researchers have been encouraged to propose reports on the adverse effects of the common ADHD treatment methylphenidate on children and youth, or safe medicine use during pregnancy.

Neurological treatments are also on the priority list. Emea welcomes proposals concerning the influence of antipsychotics and antidepressants on suicidal behaviour, as well as safety considerations for treating depression in patients with dementia.

Researchers can also explore the long-term skeletal effects of biophosphonates, drugs which stop bone density loss in patients suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis; as well as the long-term effects of immunomodulators, which can boost or weaken the immune system.

Immunomodulators, particularly immunosuppressants, can give patients a higher susceptibility to disease, making adverse effects severe and dangerous. Patients who have just had an organ transplant, for example, would take immunosuppressants to prevent their immune systems attacking the new tissue, but would then be vulnerable to infection.

Proposal submissions are due on November 19, 2009. EUR333.5 million (US$474 million) has been earmarked from the FP7 2010 budget to fund the projects.