The Drug Delivery and Targeting group from the CIBBIM-Nanomedicine at VHIR, led by Dr. Simó Schwartz Jr., participates in a new European project, called NoCanTher, which aims to develop treatments with nanomedicine for pancreatic ductal carcinoma. The project is awarded with 7 million euros in the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission, and involves the participation of 11 institutions from the different sectors (academia, industry and clinical).
The research comes as the results of an earlier European study which showed in animal models the efficacy of a therapeutic nanoconjugate against pancreatic cancer. Based on these results, the researchers will complete treatment preclinical studies and carry out a phase I clinical trial.
"The aim of this project is to launch scaling and industrial production of the nanoconjugate to be able to carry out the clinical trial", explains Dr. Schwartz. His team, in collaboration with researchers from the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), will coordinate the first phase of the trial which, once exceeds all relevant regulations, will take place on 25 individuals in the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, and in the hospitals 12 de Octubre and Fuenlabrada from Madrid.
The new nanoconjugate combines chemotherapy with magnetic hyperthermia, which is an experimental treatment that heats the tumour cells to the point of rupture. Also carries a director peptide that facilitates their penetration into the tumour cells, and it has shown that it is capable of reducing the formation of new blood vessels (what is known as the antiangiogenic effect). According to researcher Dr. Schwartz, this will allow to reduce the side effects of standard treatments, since it will act directly on the tumour.
Pancreatic ductal carcinoma is an orphan disease with a very poor prognosis: the 5-year survival is around 5%, even when it is detected in early stages. For this reason, Dr. Schwartz concludes that "the development of a new drug, using nanomedicine, will open the door to improve its prognosis".