PELARGODONT project progress meeting in Riga

On April 6 (2018) M-era.Net project PELARGODONT progress meeting took place at the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS). Our researchers discussed the results achieved within the project and coordinated future cooperation with Lithuanian, Polish and Italian partners.

Dr. Pharm. Elina Makarova reported results of the LIOS research.

PELARGODONT project team photo:




Learn more about PELARGODONT project!

EU-OPENSCREEN, the European research infrastructure for chemical biology, gains ERIC status

On March 21, 2018 the European Commission has granted the status of European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) to EU-OPENSCREEN setting up a Pan European RI for Chemical Biology. The award of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) status by the European Commission was preceded by an extensive and excellence-based selection process in many member countries and the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures) forum, a committee of representatives of the country ministries. EU-FLAG_cmyk_304dpi_small

EU-OPENSCREEN-ERIC with its headquarters based in Berlin on the Science Campus Buch was founded by 7 European Member States: the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Spain. Denmark will participate as an observer and as a full member from 2019. Seven more countries are preparing their participation.

24 institutes (screening centres and chemistry centres) and a data centre were selected as partner institutes of EU-OPENSCREEN ERIC in the member countries in an independent evaluation process.

The national node of EU-OPENSCREEN in Latvia is Institute of Organic Synthesis.
The primary objective of EU-OPENSCREEN is to create a distributed research infrastructure which meets the needs of its user groups – scientists seeking a better understanding on how fundamental molecular processes act to govern biological function at the organismal, tissue, cellular and pathway levels. The majority of these scientists in Europe, however at present, do not have access to such technology platforms and compound collections, which are generally very costly to purchase, operate and maintain. EU-OPENSCREEN will cost-effectively overcome these limitations by involving and providing access to Europe’s leading screening platforms and chemistry groups, constructing a jointly used compound collection and operating an open-access bioactivity database which will be accessible on a global basis.
EU-OPENSCREEN is already cooperating with thirteen of the new Biomedical Sciences (BMS) research infrastructures in the European cluster project CORBEL to jointly create harmonised access for users to their complementary biological and medical technologies, biological samples and data services required for state-of-the-art biomedical research and development. To promote new applications derived from marine organisms in areas such as drug discovery, novel foods and food ingredients, selective breeding in aquaculture, biosanitation, cosmetics and bioenergy, EU-OPENSCREEN is also part of the European cluster project EMBRIC. Beyond Europe, EU-OPENSCREEN cooperates with similar consortia in the USA and Australia.

Learn more about EU-OPENSCREEN!

Ten leading life science institutions from nine Central and Eastern European countries have formed Alliance4Life

Alliance4Life aims at addressing the existing gap in health research and innovation performance between EU15 and EU13 countries. This new initiative has been supported by the European Commission in the frame of Horizon 2020 Health Working Programme as it is expected that outcomes and recommendations of the Alliance4Life could bring useful suggestions regarding science policy at both European and Member States level.

Despite heavy investments and other funding coming from the EU during the past decade, a substantial gap in research performance and innovation potential persists between the East and the West of the EU. Member institutions of the Alliance4Life believe that this problem could be, to a large extent, solved by improving governance and managerial practices as well as by developing an “institutional culture” at research institutions.

Member institutions of the Alliance4Life intend to work together towards improving the key areas of science policy and management, and will address these issues at institutional, national, and European levels. Alliance for Life members will work through collaborative peer-learning and will be supported by a committee of experts from renowned institutions from all around the European Union.

Findings of the two-year initial project carried out by the Alliance for Life will be available to the European Commission and are expected to shed more light on what policies and approaches might better work to close the research and innovation gap in Europe. Alliance for Life member institutions will also strengthen their own scientific collaborations and will support each other in the area of institutional development. An international school of institutional management in research is an option to be considered to enhance professional training of middle and top-level managers of research institutions in Central and Eastern Europe.

Alliance4Life members: CZ: CEITEC Masaryk University, International Clinical Research Center – FNUSA, SVK: Biomedical Research Center SAS; POL: Medical University of Lodz; HRV: School of Medicine, University of Zagreb; EST: University of Tartu; LTU: Vilnius University; LVA: Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis; SVN: University of Ljubljana; HUN: Semmelweis University.


The kick-off meeting of Alliance4Life project took place on 15 – 17 January 2018 in Brno (Czech Republic). Almost 100 participants including several representatives of the European Commission arrived to Brno with the aim to get to know each other and to start work on the project.

Scientists to combat dry eyes

Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis in the European consortium in search of new treatment for Dry Eye Disease

More and more people are suffering from dry eyes, partly because of our intensive screen usage. Scientists at the University of Antwerp are joining the search for new treatments for this condition under the aegis of a European consortium.

In the past, it was mainly older women who struggled with Dry Eye Disease (DED). Estimates of the number of patients vary, but it is assumed that between 5% and 35% of adults worldwide suffer from it. Three times more women than men have DED. The condition, caused by enzymes that bring about pain and inflammation, can lead to loss of vision.

“Experts expect the number of patients to rise dramatically in the future”, says Prof. Koen Augustyns, medicinal chemist at UAntwerp. “This is partly because people keep getting older, but frequent screen usage, environmental pollution and contact lenses also play a role.”

Doctors currently prescribe tear substitutes, such as drops or a gel, to treat DED. Anti-inflammatory therapy is also used. But there is a need for new and better treatments. With that in mind, an international consortium has been launched with the financial support of the EU (Marie Curie Innovative Training Network): Integrated Training in Dry Eye Disease Drug Development, or IT-DED3 for short.

Lengthy process

The consortium is coordinated by UAntwerp, which has accumulated years of experience with harmful enzymes in the Medicinal Chemistry and Medical Biochemistry research units and the Microbiology, Parasitology and Hygiene laboratory. In addition to Antwerp’s university, the consortium also includes the Sorbonne Université (France), the University of Valladolid (Spain), the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (Latvia), the University of Eastern Finland (Finland), the University Hospital Cologne (Germany) and the Institute of Experimental Biology and Technology (Portugal).

“Drug research is a lengthy process”, Augustyns explains. “In Antwerp, we have compiled a large ‘library’ of interesting enzyme inhibitors. These must now be tested further, for efficacy and safety for example. IT-DED3 is offering 12 young, enterprising and innovative researchers the opportunity to work on new therapies under expert guidance. The aim, of course, is to find more effective treatments.”

The IT-DED3 project runs until the end of 2021 and will be launched officially during a kick-off meeting at Hof van Liere, at UAntwerp’s city-centre campus, on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 January.

An article on palmitoylcarnitine induced muscle-specific insulin resistance is highlighted on the front cover of journal BioFactors

An article by our scientists Edgars Liepinsh, Marina Makrecka-Kuka, Elina Makarova, Kristine Volska, Karlis Vilks, Eduards Sevostjanovs, Unigunde Antone, Janis Kuka, Reinis Vilskersts, Daina Lola, Einars Loza, Solveiga Grinberga and Maija Dambrova Acute and long-term administration of palmitoylcarnitine induces muscle-specific insulin resistance in mice  is highlighted on the front cover of the journal BioFactors.
Cover Biofactors

Achievements in Electrochemical Synthesis

Our researchers Olesja Koleda and prof. Edgars Suna in collaboration with colleagues from Rostock University, Ruhr-University Bochum and Max-Planck Institute have discovered electrosynthesis of benzoxazoles.

Method is published in Journal of Organic Chemistry  (Impact Factor 4.849, 2016):
Synthesis of Benzoxazoles Using Electrochemically Generated Hypervalent Iodine.









This article is also August 25th ACS Editors’ Choice (

Angewandte Chemie accepted article from LIOS

Angewandte Chemie, one of the leading general chemistry journals (Impact Factor 11.994 (2016)),  accepted article:

Martins Otikovs, Marlene Andersson, Qiupin Jia, Kerstin Nordling, Qing Meng, Loren B. Andreas, Guido Pintacuda, Jan Johansson, Anna Rising, Kristaps Jaudzems. Biomimicry of artificial spider silk spinning assessed by NMR. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 10.1002/anie.201706649