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Progress against polio

St Andrews will be the focus of the world-wide fight to eradicate polio as scientists from across Europe gather in the town this weekend to share the latest research findings in their efforts to develop disease control and eradicate polio.

The sixteenth bi-annual EUROPIC conference will be hosted in the University of St Andrews’ new Medical and Biological Sciences Building which was completed earlier this year. This will be the first international event to take advantage of the state-of-the art venue.

EUROPIC is the acronym for the series of meetings of the European Study Group on the Molecular Biology of Picornaviruses, dedicated to the study of the Picornaviridae family of viruses to which polio, FMD and the common cold all belong.

The polio virus invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis in hours. In some cases, it can be fatal. Huge strides have been made in pushing annual cases of the crippling disease down to 1,618 worldwide last year. But polio persists in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, and there are fears that if it not eradicated, cases could begin to climb again.

Progress has already been made at the University of St Andrews, where research into picornaviruses has lead to virus sequences being developed for use in biomedicine and biotechnology and has allowed major advances in human gene therapies and the production of stem cells.

Professor Martin Ryan, who leads the University’s Picornavirus Group, will be among the delegates. He said:

“St. Andrews is honoured to host the 16th meeting of this study group. The EUROPIC conferences bring together top scientists from around the world to present their latest research findings and to exchange ideas for future research. Ever since their inception these meetings have been characterised by a spirit of camaraderie and academic collaboration. It is fitting that such a meeting, is the first to be held in the new School of Medicine.”

The conference will run from 11 – 16 September, 2010.


Issued by the University of St Andrews

Contact: Emma Shea, Communications Manager on 01334 462 109 or email Emma.Shea@st-andrews.ac.uk

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