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.
“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).