European metrology research to ensure science for a safer world

LGC, the UK’s designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurement, is leading two joint research projects (JRPs) funded by the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP). The two JRPs are being undertaken in collaboration with other leading European National Measurement Institutes and aim to address key challenges through the development of traceable measurement methods to help advance measurement science and technology in healthcare and advanced technologies.

The JRP-Coordinator for ‘Metrology for monitoring infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and harmful micro-organisms’ is Dr Carole Foy, LGC’s Principal Scientist for Molecular Biology. The research project aims to develop novel measurement procedures for the rapid diagnosis, surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases.

Infectious diseases, such as flu, account for over 20% of human deaths globally and for 25% of all morbidity. Accurate and rapid diagnosis, alongside methods for monitoring transmission and spread in the community and resistance to therapeutic agents, are vital for public health protection. Molecular approaches, such as qPCR and sequence analysis, offer the potential to improve the management of infectious diseases through increased speed, accuracy and sensitivity when compared to conventional microbiological methods. However, the measurement infrastructure for molecular approaches is lacking, with issues concerning quality, comparability and traceability of measurements widely highlighted.

These issues will be addressed by developing high accuracy methods for the detection of infectious agents. The project will also evaluate new and emerging molecular approaches for the surveillance and monitoring of infectious disease load and for the detection of antimicrobial resistance mutations.

The JRP-Coordinator for ‘Chemical and Optical Characterisation of Nanomaterials in Biological Systems’ which aims to develop methods to characterise nanomaterials for their physical, chemical and optical properties in biological matrices is Dr Damian Marshall, LGC’s Principal Scientist for Cell Biology. The JRP will support research to understand how nanoparticles interact with biological systems.

The benefits of nanotechnology can only be fully realised if nanomaterials, particularly those for use in nanomedicine applications and consumer products, are shown to be non-toxic. This project aims to produce a standardised panel of reference nanomaterials to enable the development of traceable methods for improved in vitro toxicity measurement for safety assessment. This will help to provide reference materials which can be incorporated into testing regimes for regulatory processes and will, therefore, support public acceptance of nanomaterial safety.

Dr Derek Craston, Government Chemist, Managing Director of Science & Technology and Chief Scientific Officer at LGC commented: “The pooling of scientific expertise through the European Metrology Research Programme is vital for driving innovation and scientific research. Without this funding, the opportunity for Europe to gain a significant advantage in key sectors would be lost. LGC is pleased to be leading on two of these invaluable projects to ensure science for a safer world.”

In addition to leading projects, LGC is making a significant contribution to other European funded projects including methods for quantifying metalloproteins as markers for diseases such as Down’s syndrome, novel mathematical and statistical approaches to uncertainty evaluation, and improving the comparability of measurement results through the development of primary standards for chemical analysis.

The European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) is a metrology-focused European Joint Programme implemented by the European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET) and supports the collaboration of European metrology institutes, industrial organisations and academia through Joint Research Projects. The EMRP is jointly funded by the EMRP participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union and has a budget of approximately 400 M€ over seven years.

The overall goal of the EMRP is to accelerate innovation and competitiveness in Europe whilst continuing to provide essential support to underpin the quality of our lives. The EMRP promotes collaboration with industrial and academic organisations and the transfer of knowledge to the stakeholder community, thereby reducing duplication and increasing the impact of European research.