Significant funding for Evira’s research project from the Academy of Finland


<div>The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has received 425 000 euros from the Academy of Finland for research into the modes of action of mycotoxin compounds in grains produced by the common Fusarium fungi. This is the first time Evira has received research funding from the Academy of Finland. The research will be carried out during 2008-2011.</div>

Grains and feed can contain fungi which under suitable conditions will produce toxic metabolites. These mycotoxins are a health risk for both animals and humans. Moulds and their toxins also cause considerable economic losses every year. The toxins reduce the grain harvest and its quality and lower the productivity of animals by for example affecting the normal consistency of milk.

During the research project which will begin next year, the modes of action of the mycotoxins frequently occurring in Finland will be determined with the help of modern molecular methods. By doing this we will get information on their effect at molecular level. With the help of the information received we can develop diagnoses of the diseases that have been caused by the mycotoxins in animals and humans.
The quality of the grains and raw materials in the feed is directly connected with the health of production animals. Several studies have shown that mould contaminated feed has caused mycotoxicosis in animals. It is a syndrome where the likely toxic effect of the mycotoxins causes cell death and histological lesions. Even in Finland it has been possible to point out the connection between some cases of illness and fungal toxins in feed, but often the symptoms caused by the mycotoxins are indeterminate, and the mycotoxicosis remains unidentified.  Mycotoxicosis can occur in humans as well as in animals.

Fusarium fungi are very common field fungi in Finland, whereas fungi belonging to the Aspergillus and Penicillium families are mainly found in storage conditions in this country. The mycotoxins produced by all of these fungal species have been found in Finnish grain and feed. Toxins produced by the Fusarium species are always found in Finland in grain and feed, but their quantity and quality vary depending on the climatic conditions. High levels of Fusarium fungi and toxins have been found in Finnish grains especially after wet growing periods.

The co-ordinator for the research project is Professor Kimmo Peltonen, Head of Evira’s Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit. From Evira, Head of the Pathology Research Unit, Professor Marjukka Anttila, Head of Group Ulla-Maija Kokkonen at the Virology Research Unit and Senior Researcher Marika Jestoi from the Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit are taking part in the project.

Other partners are Professor Outi Vainio from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Helsinki University, Professor Risto Kostiainen from the Division of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen from the Department of Chemistry and Dr. Esa-Matti Lilius of the University of Turku and Professor Hannu Raunio of Kuopio University.

The Research Council for Biosciences and Environment of the Academy of Finland distributed a total of 30 million euros. The average size of the funding for research projects was 320 000 euros. The Council handled a total of 269 applications of which 69 projects were approved for funding.

For additional information, please contact:
Professor Kimmo Peltonen, Head of Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit, Evira,
tel. +358 20 77 24410, +358 40 500 2614


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