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PROVAT-2011-002 DocNEURO
Project: Portable Diffuse-Optical Neuro-Monitor
Awarded: Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO)
Funding: 234.959,26 eur

Executive summary

ICFO researchers will develop a prototype non-invasive, portable, transcranial optical monitor to measure the cerebral hemodynamics at the bed-side in premature and term born infants and adults. The technology is applicable to cases managed in neuro- or general-intensive care units (NICU or ICU), surgery theatres as well as for out-patient visits.

The target populations and diseases encompass important conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and neonatal cerebral problems. The ultimate translation of this technology to the clinics, due to the high prevalence and difficulties in the management of these diseases, will lead to immense socio-economic gains through the reduction of hospital stays, morbidity and mortality.

In order to achieve this goal, ICFO will develop, for the first time, a clinically viable prototype that combines two diffuse optical techniques which have so far only been utilized in small pilot studies in research settings. Researchers will collaborate with neurologists from the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau to develop the device according to their needs. Together, they will also carry out a set of tests on human subjects.

To ensure success a robust business strategy will also be developed. The close collaboration of a group of physicists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and biomedical scientists as “scientific advisory board” is also envisioned.

In summary, ICFO presents a multi-disciplinary, translational research project in the true “bench-top to bed-side” spirit.

Project: Development, validation and transfer to market of a prototype of air-bridge for surface transport vehicles
Awarded: Centre Internacional de Mètodes Numèrics en Enginyeria (CIMNE)
Funding: 312.433,30 eur

Executive summary

CIMNE proposes to develop, build, validate and subsequently exploit a unique air-bridge for surface transport vehicles that utilizes structural, high performance composite fabric, computer –controlled, pressurized air-filled beams (hereafter called High Bearing Capacity (HBC) air-beams) as the primary load-bearing structural spanning members. Scaled prototype HBC air-beams using a variety of commercial fabrics have been developed by CIMNE in the past few years and used to demonstrate the conceptual feasibility of such beams.

The objective of the project is therefore to develop the HBC air-beam technology of CIMNE into a fully functioning and easily deployable air-bridge. An air-bridge is a light weight, low pressure, adaptive bridge formed by a collection of HBC beams connected by an upper deck of metallic, composite or hybrid material.

The new air-bridge will be readily applicable for facilitating emergency evacuation tasks, communication, provision of resources and rebuilding of devastated areas due to natural disasters. Indeed, many other applications of the air-bridges developed in this project exist in surface transport engineering (cars, lorries and trains) and in the building construction sector, among others.

PROVAT-2011-007 BES
Project: Development of a Raman Spectrofotometer Camera for molecular imaging of the retina in patients with retina and brain diseases
Awarded: Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS)
Funding: 140.320,80 eur

Executive summary

Brain diseases are one of the major health problems in the EU. The development of
effective therapies for preventing and treating brain diseases is hampered because
technical difficulties for studying the brain.

BES proposes to develop a new molecular imaging technology for studying the human retina as a “window to the brain”. The retina is part of the central nervous system and it can be easily accessed for studying it with photonic devices. The majority of brain diseases also affect the retina, modifying its molecules and metabolites, even if in many cases such abnormalities are asymptomatic.

Raman Spectroscopy (RS) is a technique that identifies chemical properties of samples due to its ability of detecting molecular vibration frequencies that characterize molecular species.

This proposal aims to develop RS for measuring key molecules such as glutamate, lactate, N-Acetyl Aspartate, NADH, or lipids content in the human retina. They will create a new prototype of spectral imaging device for detecting RS for studying Multiple Sclerosis, glaucoma and neurodegenerative diseases. The RS camera will be integrated within a current optical device for studying retina diseases such as optic coherent tomography (OCT).

Project: Use of peptide shuttles for the delivery of monoclonal antibodies across the blood-brain barrier in brain tumours
Awarded: Vall d’Hebron Institut d’Oncologia (VHIO) and Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona (IRB Barcelona)
Funding: 307.000,05 eur

Executive summary

Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive tumours with a very poor prognosis. It is therefore urgent to develop more effective treatments against this fatal disease.

The objective of this project is to generate a novel therapeutic strategy against glioblastoma. Two are the most important hurdles in the treatment of glioblastoma. On the one hand the blood-brain barrier, a physiological barrier present in cerebral blood vessels that prevents the access of pharmacological compounds to the tumours. On the other hand, the intra-tumoural heterogeneity and specifically the presence of cancer stem cells within tumours. Cancer stem cells are responsible for tumour initiation, recurrence and resistance to drugs, and the elimination of cancer stem cells should lead to the eradication of the tumour.

BBBshuttle-mAb will combine the expertise of two laboratories, one that has generated peptides that promote the shuttling of compounds through the blood-brain barrier, and another that has generated therapeutic antibodies that target cancer stem cells. Through the synergism of both groups, we will generate an antibody that will be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and that will target cancer stem cells. The objective is to design an effective therapeutic compound against glioblastoma, ready to enter clinical trials. The technology achieved could be exploited for the brain delivery of other therapeutic antibodies.

Project: Kinematic Determination of Track and Linear Structures
Awarded: Institut de Geomàtica (IG)
Funding: 100.686,5 eur

Executive summary

DECIVEL aims at building a pre-commercial product –the RM3D + DECIVEL system– together with the company Al-Top. The product will integrate the existing RM3D track geometry measuring trolley with an advanced INS/GNSS trajectory determination system –the DECIVEL– based in the integration of the recent miniaturized electromechanical Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) technology, GNSS carrier phase multiconstellation receivers and on research results of the Institute of Geomatics (IG).

RM3D + DECIVEL is a [railway] kinematic high-precision track-geometry measuring and determination system that will boost the productivity of the existing RM3D by replacing a static, expensive, time consuming surveying procedure by a kinematic, fast one. RM3D + DECIVEL will be exported worldwide using the existing worldwide distribution network of Al-Top.

The fast, accurate and low-cost procedure introduced by RM3D + DECIVEL contributes to the safety and quality of train transportation.

Al-Top’s current RM3D will be modified to host DECIVEL. DECIVEL is an evolution of and leverages IG’s experimental mTAG prototype (data collection and synchronization HW & SW system) and NAVEGA (real-time and off-line time-Position-Velocity-Attitude INS/GNSS determination software).

Project: Micro- and Nanoencapsulated Biocides: the next generation of Disinfectants with Short + Long-2Life Antimicrobial Activity
Awarded: Institut Català de Nanotecnologia (ICN)
Funding: 164.210,77 eur

Executive summary

The aim of BIOCIDE2LIFE is to develop (design + fabrication + optimization + tech transfer) an advanced generation of disinfectants with both short (immediate) and long (remnant)-life antimicrobial effects for hospitals. These new products will be designed and fabricated through the encapsulation of biocides in micro- and nanosystems with sizes comprised between 50 μm and 100 nm.

The first part of the project relates to the development of three encapsulation technologies that will allow the generation of three new BIOCIDE2LIFE products based on the encapsulation of i) chlorine dioxide, ii) hydrogen peroxide, and iii) peracetic acid. BIOCIDE2LIFE products will be composed of free and encapsulated biocides, thus integrating the immediate antimicrobial activity of the free biocide to the inherent tailored remnant activity of the encapsulated biocides in a single product.

The second part of the project aspires to address the critical issues relevant to the use of BIOCIDE2LIFE products: their characterization and the study of their physical properties, their stability and their biocide release capacities. The aim is to fabricate a set of prototypes based on the different selected biocides that will be evaluated in vitro to determine their toxicity and disinfectant activity.

Project: Novel TNF inhibitors as therapeutic agents in autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and cancer
Awarded: Centre de Regulació Genòmica (CRG)
Funding: 157.800,00 eur

Executive summary

Today’s most successful class of biologics targets the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s.
With five anti‐TNF biologics now on the market, attention has turned toward novel strategies to improve the safety and efficacy of next‐generation TNF inhibitors. Beyond TNF, drugs are under development that modulate many other ligands and receptors of the TNF superfamily.
Biologics targeting at least 16 of the approximately 22 known ligand–receptor pairs are in clinical development for autoimmune diseases, cancer and osteoporosis, and two have just recently reached the market . A deeper understanding of intracellular signaling has also facilitated small‐molecule interventions, opening the door to oral therapies.

Denosumab is a breakthrough fully human IgG2 monoclonal antibody that targets TNF ligand superfamily member 11 (RANKL) and has just recently been approved by both the FDA and the EMEA for the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis, the prevention and treatment of bone loss in hormone treated prostate and breast cancer patients, and the treatment of skeletal‐related events in individuals with bone metastases from solid tumours, being in advanced clinical studies for additional indications for bone cancer and bone metastases, multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis, and probably breast cancer.

CRG researchers headed by Luis Serrano have designed a novel class of inhibitors of the RANK/RANKL pathway: using an in silico protein design strategy, the biologically active RANKL trimer was changed into dimeric variants which are still capable of binding the RANK receptor but render it unable to form the active trimer‐trimer complex responsible for downstream signalling.

In line with the Prova’t call, researchers plan to give value and increase the chances of successful transfer of a new technology developed at the CRG related to TNF blockers as therapeutic tools, superior to or synergistic with existing ones, in diseases of high social and economic impact such as cancer, osteoporosis and autoimmune disorders.