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Consortium Receives $8M to Investigate Molecular Roots of Extreme Aggression

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Union has approved a project aimed at determining the causes of extreme aggressive behavior and is providing €6 million ($8 million) to the effort.

Called Aggressotype, the project seeks to find the molecular roots of extreme aggression in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other "conduct disorders," as well as in the general population. The total cost of the project is about €8.1 million, according to the grant application. The EU funding was awarded as part of the Seventh Framework Programme.

In the application, the researchers said that they will use existing data sets and acquire new data to build a "knowledge chain from molecule to behavior, investigating known and novel genes, gene networks, and their epigenetic interactions, and mapping their mode of action from the molecular via the cellular to the brain-circuit level."

The work, they added, is expected to result in new algorithms that may be useful in predicting aggressive behavior. The algorithms will be validated in existing longitudinal studies in children. Their predictive value for adults will also be tested.

Additionally, Aggressotype will test "non-pharmacological biofeedback for personalized treatment and prevention of overt aggression." New pharmacological compounds for treating aggression will be identified through zebrafish models.

Participating institutions and companies in the project include the University of Leicester, UK; Maastricht University, Netherlands; University of Bergen, Norway; University of Dundee, UK; University of Zurich; University of Ulm, Germany; King's College London; Central Institute of Mental Health, Germany; Decode Genetics; University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands; Madrid Health Service; Genoway; Genalice; Vall d'Hebron University Hospital Foundation - Research Institute, Spain; University Hospital of Würzburg, Germany; Consortium Institute of Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer, Spain; Research Foundation of the State University of New York; Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, Italy, View Point; University of Tartu, Estonia; Concentris Research Management; and University of Barcelona, Spain.

The Catholic University Foundation in the Netherlands is coordinating the project.

Dutch software firm Genalice said today that it was awarded €200,000 for work it will carry out as part of the project. The biomedical big data firm will apply its unbiased correlation engine, Genalice Link, to the large, complex datasets to be used as part of Aggressotype.

In a statement, Genalice CTO Hans Karten said, “These data sources are very diverse in nature and consist of, for example, behavioral diagnosis, clinical data … and genetic information. In collaboration with consortium partners we will apply our engine to the data to determine correlations across different sources.

"Furthermore, we will build a relational database that describes all identified correlations that can be used with novel data of a particular source to predict markers in a different source," he said.