Percuros B.V. obtained 3 individual fellowships to finance the work of 3 brilliant research scientists:
- “BrEXo-Apt” (838988) is about non-invasive and accurate diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer (BC). Early screening methods for breast cancer are mainly based on instrumental tests, that may cause in many cases a failure to reach particular categories of patients. To develop a new diagnostic and therapeutic strategy, Dr Quintavalle will aim to exploit the identified aptamers to design an innovative aptamer-based sandwich assay for their specific detection in patient blood samples and to generate an affinity plasmapheresis system by using BC specific aptamers for specifically remove BC-derived exosome from patient blood.
- “NeuroAPA” (834621) aims to identify structural and functional abnormalities in adult brain which may contribute to the increased risk of psychiatric disorders (i.e. autism, schizophrenia) in offspring conceived by parents at advanced parental age. The research will be conducted by Dr. Zacchini who has already showed that adult offspring was characterized by social distress and communication deficit, impaired cognitive functions, and anxiety-like behaviour, suggesting increased predisposition to autism, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
- “THERAPROBES” (832437) is about the timely and accurate diagnosis of (pre)malignant gastrointestinal (GI)-tract lesions, which is critical for patient survival. To develop a clinically viable strategy, Dr Harmsen will use biodegradable, fluorescent silica nanoprobes (FSNs), which are 50-100 nm in size that provide real-time visualization of (pre)malignant GI-tract lesions over a range of scales during routine endoscopy.
“PAVE” - A nanovaccine Approach for the treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women and still fatal in over 90% of patients. It is characterised by its extremely aggressive nature where it is also responsible for the highest mortality rate compared to other major cancers, resulting in excess of 250,000 deaths worldwide per annum. Current state-of-art therapies for advanced PDAC including chemo- and/or radiotherapy, despite extensive efforts, have met with only limited success. Surgery is only applicable for those with early stages of the disease, or to relieve symptoms, if the cancer is blocking the bile duct or the bowel. There are two major reasons for the resistance of PDAC to conventional therapy. Firstly, PDAC has a very defining hallmark, where an abundance of stromal content is present in the tumour microenvironment (TME) to form a physical and biochemical barrier.
Secondly, during progression of the disease, the body's immune system is hijacked to support the proliferation of the cancer. New approaches, such as immunotherapy, are therefore needed where it has already shown promise in overcoming many aspects of this resistance. Immunotherapy has the potential to treat minimal residual disease after pancreatic resection (surgery) as well as for metastatic and non-resectable PDAC. Our objective for this project is to bring together a multidisciplinary and intersectoral group to develop novel vaccine approaches, including use of multiple immunomodulating components. The approach of the consortium, composed by 14 beneficiaries and 4 partners, has been to design cutting-edge WPs and ESR projects (15 Early Stage researchers).
Percuros B.V. will take part as beneficiary into two other H2020 projects:
pHioniC - H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018 – “pH and Ion Transport in Pancreatic Cancer”
This project brings together highly synergistic expertise, research and training facilities to investigate pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), a frequent and aggressive cancer that is still incurable. The programme’s central hypothesis has a strong grounding in the physiology of the exocrine pancreas. Secretion of the alkaline pancreatic juice, normally associated with digestion, leads to acidifications of the pancreas stroma resulting in an acid adaptation of pancreatic cells. We are first to propose that this adaptation facilitates PDAC initiation and progression by selecting for more aggressive phenotypes in interplay with PDAC driver mutations.
Percuros B.V. leads WP1 and is involved co-mentoring all other ESRs during progress meetings due to its expertise in molecular imaging and assay development but also in innovating and implementing advanced in vivo methods for studying and manipulating tumour growth and development.
ACORN - H2020-WIDESPREAD-05-2017 – Twinning: “A Nanoparticle-Based Therapeutic Applications and Detection of Carbon Monoxide Releasing Molecules”
The overall strategic objective of this project is to place the INSTITUTO DE MEDICINA MOLECULAR (IMM), in Lisbon, within the core of a European network of laboratories that seeks to produce cutting-edge research in the field of gaseous signalling molecules (gasotransmitters). IMM focuses, in particular, on one particular molecule in this class, which is carbon monoxide (CO).
PERC has state-of-art expertise in their use of MRI and optical imaging to monitor efficacy of therapeutic activity in small animal disease models. One technique is the use of fluorescence lifetime imaging, for which Dr Chan was a consultant for one of the leading companies in their field, ART Technologies, which is very suited to measuring gasotransmitters and hypoxia.
A key component of the project is to ensure that IMM can optimise a method for the NIRF imaging of endogenous CO in mice. This will complement the program where IMM can track and monitor the functional activity of CO being targeted to diseased areas. “
Percuros was recently awarded, as co-ordinator, a European Commission MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN Action grant to investigate the use of nanoparticles for combination immunotherapy. This work will be performed in conjunction with a number of European partners both for academia and industry. Nineteen early stage researchers have been recruited across the partner sites where the project will start at the end of this year. For more infomation: www.ispic.eu
Percuros is currently co-ordinating a European Union Marie Curie IAPP project, BRAINPATH, to build upon current developments in molecular imaging. The consortium will create an academic-industrial training and mobility network for the next revolution of imaging technology for the brain. The other partners in the consortium are Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Leiden University Medical Center, icoMetrix N.V., University of Antwerp, Technical University of Munich, FOM-AMOLF (Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics and Medres GmbH.
Percuros has been awarded three more grants and will launch three projects:
- PREPARED – A EUROSTARS funded project together with two organisations from Denmark, Atonomics and The Parker Institute (Copenhagen University Hospital), both based in Copenhagen. The program will allow the development of new point-of-care assays for therapeutic monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis.
- CANCER – A European H2020 MSCA RISE grant to study how the new cancer immunotherapy checkpoint blockers affect patients in terms of their quality of life and the impact of such treatment on their long term immune status.
- ARCATOR - A three-year project funded by EUROSTARS together with SIMFO GmbH, based in Bayreuth (Germany) to work on mid-throughput assays for measuring circulating tumour cells in liquid biopsies.