The European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) is an EU-funded, intergovernmental framework that aims to create pan-European research networks in all science fields and promote excellence, foster interdisciplinary research and empower young researchers and innovators.
The “European Network for Innovative Diagnosis and treatment of Chronic Neutropenias” (EuNet-INNOCHRON) is a new COST Action (CA18233), officially starting on November 19, 2019, with twenty-four (24) countries participating so far. The main proposer of the project is Professor Helen Papadaki, University of Crete, Greece, and the aim of the Action is to promote research in the field of Chronic Neutropenias (CNPs) through a wide network of researchers with special interest in CNPs. EuNet-INNOCHRON will facilitate interactions and collaborations among top-level European experts and young investigators from different scientific areas, e.g. Clinical and Laboratory Hematology, Immunology, Genetics, Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The aim is better characterization, diagnosis and treatment of the underlying diseases.
Chronic Neutropenia is a neutrophil disorder characterized by persistent low Absolute Neutrophil Counts (ANC) and represents a manifestation of a wide spectrum of disorders ranging from mild to life-threatening, congenital or acquired diseases. It has diverse pathogenetic/pathophysiologic mechanisms and its prognosis is related to the underlying pathogenesis, the degree of neutropenia and the propensity for leukemic transformation.
The main aims of EuNet-INNOCHRON are thus a) to promote science, training and education on advanced biochemical, immunological, genetic and molecular biology techniques for the accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients with different types of CNP, early recognition of MDS/AML evolution and appropriate intervention; b) to link and further expand existing neutropenia networks for a more multidisciplinary approach of CNP that will result in a better characterization of the underlying diseases and development of individualized and precision medicine therapeutic approaches for selected patients; and c) to organize and expand CNP patient Registries and Biobanks using homogenized protocols in line with the ethical standards of the European Legal Framework and the relevant national regulations.
For the implementation of the Action there will be five Working Groups (WG), each with a distinct objective and deliverables as follows:
- WG-1: CONGENITAL NEUTROPENIAS, aiming to identify novel mutations in patients/families with Congenital Neutropenias and investigate the implicated pathogenetic mechanisms using advanced technologies.
- WG-2: ACQUIRED NEUTROPENIAS, aiming to investigate the pathogenetic mechanisms, develop innovative diagnostic approaches and establish clinical-laboratory diagnostic algorithms for Acquired CNPs.
- WG-3: MECHANISMS OF LEUKEMIC EVOLUTION, aiming to investigate the process of clonal evolution and the cellular/molecular mechanisms associated with leukemogenesis in patients with Congenital and Acquired CNPs.
- WG-4: INVESTIGATION OF TARGETS FOR NOVEL THERAPIES, the main objective being to identify targets for the development of novel therapies using advanced technologies.
- WG-5: CNP PATIENT REGISTRIES AND BIOBANKING: Registries of patients with different types of CNPs are required to gather real-world data on the epidemiology, clinical presentation and natural course of CNPs and to identify markers for improved decision-making and risk-adapted treatment strategies.
To facilitate the Action, a number of events will be organized including network meetings, workshops, conferences, Training Schools (TSs) and Short-term Scientific Missions (STSMs – exchange visits between researchers involved in a COST Action). Other networking tools will be used, such as conference grants and communication and dissemination activities funded by COST.
EuNet-INOCHRON, in line with COST Actions policy on Excellence and Inclusiveness, strives to connect ‘pockets of excellence’ across Europe enabling researchers from less research-intensive countries (Inclusiveness Target Countries – ITC) to engage with peers all over Europe. It also aims to ensure that research communities have equal access to knowledge infrastructures and funding. Its specific objectives towards capacity building are:
- To strengthen the interactions among experts in the field of neutropenias at the European level and establish research collaborations between institutions in order to advance the knowledge on the pathogenesis of CNPs.
- To facilitate collaboration between existing networks in the field of neutropenias (EHA-SWGs, SCNIR, national registries, etc).
- To create the new generation of experts in the field of CNPs through the participation of Early Career Investigators (ECIs) from all over Europe in TSs and STSMs.
- To contribute to capacity building within the patient community by disseminating Action progress and results and by defining and incorporating relevant outcome measures.
- To foster a more applied use of the novel knowledge that will be acquired during the Action through collaborations between scientists and industrial stakeholders.
EuNet-INNOCHRON is open to researchers and innovators from all types of institutions (academia, public institutions, SME/industry, NGO, European/international organizations, etc.) including interdisciplinary fields and all career stages. All COST Member countries can participate while particular emphasis is placed on activities involving researchers from less-research intensive COST Countries (ITCs) with a view to increasing their participation. Researchers from Near Neighbour Countries (NNCs) and International Partner Countries (IPCs) can also take part on the basis of mutual benefit.
For more information on participation in the action please refer to the Action’s code CA18233 and follow the link: https://www.cost.eu/cost-actions/how-to-participate/