The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Professor Cristina Canal one of the ‘Proof of Concept’ grants, aimed at bringing advances in cutting-edge research to the market. With this grant, the researcher from the UPC’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering will assess the feasibility of bringing to market a new therapy to treat osteosarcoma, with fewer side effects, and which allows bone regeneration.
Osteosarcoma is a rare disease – it accounts for less than 0.2% of all cancers diagnosed – that mainly affects children and adolescents: it represents 2% of all cancers diagnosed in children aged 0 to 14 years and 3% of those diagnosed in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years. Improving the survival of patients with osteosarcoma is one of the challenges faced by the medical and scientific world, as the survival rate is 30% in patients with metastatic tumours.

Standard therapy for treating osteosarcoma consists of removing the entire tumour with negative margins, the resection of areas of bone larger than the tumour itself, to ensure that no cancerous cells remain next to the removed tissue. Now, the professor and researcher Cristina Canal, none of the PlasmaMedLab of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and teacher at the School of Engineering of Barcelona East (EEBE) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech (UPC), thanks to one of the grants Proof of Concept (Poco) of the European Research Council (ERC), will be able to advance in the development of a new therapy for bone cancer that avoids the side effects of conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy, and at the same time allows bone regeneration when the tumour has been surgically resected.
The TRANSFORMER project (Transforming bone cancer therapy with composite biomaterials encapsulating plasma-generated RONS) will develop a product that for the first time combines biomaterials for bone regeneration with an innovative treatment based on hydrogels treated with plasma gas, which induce the death of cancer cells.

“We want to bring our technology to the market so that one day this therapy can benefit patients,” explains researcher Cristina Canal. She adds that the grant will allow her to “advance in the development of this new technology, preparing it for clinical development and, at the same time, explore the commercial viability of the product and design a business plan that provides a roadmap to attract investors”.
Called by the ERC, the Poco grants provide additional resources to realise the innovative and commercial potential of ideas generated from research that has already been recognised by the ERC. Endowed with an amount of 150,000 euros, these grants are part of Horizon Europe, the European Union’s new research and innovation programme.

Source of information: UPC.

This project is co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).