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On June the 5th and the 6th 2016, the kick off meeting of the project AVIAMED has been held in Rome, Italy.
With the exception of Dr. Reda Salem of the Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI, Egypt) that was unable to physically attend to the meeting, all the partners were present.
Professor Mohammed El Houadfi of the Institut Agronomique et Véterenaire Hassan II (IAV, Morocco), Dr. Rachid Mentag of The National Institute of Agricultural Research of Morocco (INRA-Morocco) and Dr. Calogero Terregino of Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe, Italy) arrived in Anguillara Sabazia on Sunday the 5th where the social dinner was organized at the Restaurant Massimino by the AVIAMED project Coordinator Selene Baschieri of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA, Italy). Dr. Marcello Donini (AVIAMED WP1 leader) and Dr. Chiara Lico (AVIAMED participant) all members of the ENEA Laboratory of Biotechnologies and Dr. Eugenio Benvenuto (Head of the Laboratory of Biotechnologies) also attended to the dinner.
The day after in the Direction Office Room of the ENEA Casaccia Research centre, the kick-off meeting of the project started at 10 a.m. After a brief presentation of ENEA by Dr. Massimo Iannetta (Biotechnology and Agroindustry Division Head) and by Dr. Benvenuto, Dr. Serenella Puliga of the Research and experimentation Office of the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF), italian partner of ARIMNET2, presented through remote connection the activities of this ERANET network. Thereafter, all the project participants, including Dr. Carla Marusic of ENEA, introduced their expertise and illustrated their role in the project describing how they will approach their scientific objectives (see program attached). Because of internet failure in AGERI Dr. Salem was unable to give his presentation.
After lunch, the group discussed about some project priorities:
1- Definition of Newcastle Disease virus (NDV) and Infectious Bursal Disease virus (IBDV) types on which activities will be focused
Prof. El Houadfi and Dr. Terregino, veterinary science experts, stressed that it is important to focus activities on contemporary strains/genotypes, not used in traditional vaccines available on the market.
Regarding NDV, Dr. Terregino has severeal Egyptian strains (genotype 7). These strains are under an MTA, so he will ask for permission to use them in AVIAMED in the next weeks.
Regarding IBDV, Prof. El Houadfi has available several strains of the virus in his lab.
2- Antigens doses, delivery routes
The recombinant immunologically potentiated antigens that will be developed in the project are different from the vaccines available for NDV and IBDV and are totally new or have been tested only in murine models. For this reason, doses and routes of immunization will need to be carefully defined.
3- Availability of reagents (antibodies specific to the antigens to be expressed in plants)
All the partners will verify the availability of antibodies specific for the antigens that will be expressed in plants.
4- Best strategies to get the stable expression of NDV an IBDV antigens in plants
Considering the restrictions present in Europe and in Morocco regarding the use of genetically modified organisms, the possibility to use contained systems for the stable antigen expression (such as hairy roots or plant cell cultures) instead of maize will be evaluated.
Dr. Mentag showed a possible structure of the project web site, that all the partners liked very much. A logo was presented that was designed by ENEA; Dr. Mentag has suggested some modifications that he will soon present. Dr. Baschieri to favour the dissemination of the aims and results of the project, suggested to adopt, beside English, different languages such as French, Arabic, Italian. For the same reason, she suggested also to develop a brochure. Permissions to use the logo of the institutions will be asked. The partners accepted to share their presentations. A proposal to organize local workshop by the single partners to disseminate the importance of the project’ goals was also discussed and encouraged.
6- Scientists exchange
Both ENEA and IZSVe gave their availability to host scientists for short term scientific missions (STSM) to foster scientific and technical exchanges between the partners.
7- Future appointments
The next Project Management Board and scientific meeting was also discussed and set for the forthcoming year (in about 12 month) with the possibility to be held in Morocco.
At the end of the meeting the partners were invited to visit the P2 containment green house in ENEA Casaccia.
Afterwards, the kick-off meeting was concluded.
Because all the partners agreed on the Consortium Agreement (attachment 2), that is been signed by the legal representative of each institution, the 6th of June will be considered the official starting date of the project.