LinksnTRACK is one of three Horizon 2020 projects focusing on nanotechnologies for imaging cellular transplants and regenerative processes in vivo. Below a list of projects with which it is collaborating to share results and maximise impact.
NanoSTARS imaging for STEM cell therapy for arthritic joints
STARSTEM proposes imaging of stem cell engraftment in arthritic joints of large animals at clinically relevant depths, using nanoparticles with novel optical properties which enable unprecedented penetration depth and sensitivity. Arthritis is the most prevalent disease worldwide, with osteoarthritis (OA) affecting around 10% of the global population and around 70 million patients in Europe. There is no effective cure for OA at present and the majority of the treatments are symptomatic and not restorative. Stem cell therapy provides a unique opportunity for the self-regeneration of injured cartilage. One of the major hurdles in stem cell mediated-therapy is the inability to diagnose successful engraftment in real time using conventional imaging techniques. STARSTEM will address the major technology gaps to enable imaging of human stem cells at clinically relevant depths. STARSTEM is proposing the use of novel dual plasmonic gold nanostars (nanostars)-enhanced multi-modal imaging to detect stem cell engraftment and tissue repair, and thus their activity and efficacy as a therapy. STARSTEM will harness the best properties of light and sound with a photoacoustic (PA) imaging system for large animal and human finger imaging as proof-of-concept which exploits the unique advantages of our nanomaterial for differential and deep-tissue imaging. Functional imaging using PA enables the real time monitoring of engraftment and the therapeutic process at the site of interest, while highly sensitive anatomical imaging using MRI (using nanostar conjugated with magnetic nanoparticles as contrast agent) enables tracking of the movement and retention in individual organs of the transplanted cells that did not engraft. Algorithms for co-registered PA-MRI imaging approach will enable monitoring of the therapeutic process with high sensitivity. The overall imaging approach is designed to address small to large animal testing for efficacy and safety prior to clinical testing on humans.
Integration of Nano- and Biotechnology for beta-cell and islet Transplantation
The iNanoBIT project is aimed to apply nanotechnologies for imaging porcine pancreatic islet cellular transplants and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived beta-cells and subsequent regenerative processes in vivo in a porcine model. The project will develop1) novel highly sensitive nanotechnology-based imaging approaches allowing for monitoring of survival, engraftment, proliferation, function and whole body distribution of the cellular transplants in a preclinical porcine model with excellent translational potential to humans; 2) develop and validate the application of state-of-the-art imaging technologies facilitating the provision of new regenerative therapies to preclinical large animal models and patients; 3) directly contribute to the opening of a new market sector for i) imaging equipment (SPECT, PET/MR, optoacoustic imaging in preclinical large animal models and patients), ii) nano-imaging molecule supplies (nanomolecules allowing multimodality imaging of specific cell types with high sensitivity), iii) validated transplantable in vitro differentiated human beta-cells and porcinexenotransplant islets thus will reinforce the European healthcare supply chain for regenerative medicinal products. The iNanoBIT project will provide the currently missing toolbox for preclinical/clinical testing for a safe translation of regenerative medicinal cellular and tissue products, currently under preclinical and clinical trials, which is vital for the competitiveness of the European healthcare sector in this fast-growing area. The consortium of 5 SME and 3 Academic partners is coordinated and driven by the industrial partners from the field of nanotechnology, imaging and stem cell technologies, providing a perfect match and unique combination addressing the scope and expected impact of the call and providing TRL 3/4 starting points for the key technological elements, and expect to arrive to TRL6 levels of validated technologies ready for marketing by the end of the project.
Three projects on cell tracking systems establish joint collaboration
On the 2nd of November, three Horizon 2020 European research projects funded under the call Nanotechnologies for imaging cellular transplants and regenerative processes in vivo met online to discuss collaboration opportunities. The meeting counted on the collaboration of the coordination teams of STARSTEM, iNanoBIT, and nTRACK but also communication and dissemination experts. After a tour de table, each project briefly presented itself including the technical objectives and partners. Then, common challenges were discussed, especially regarding regulatory and toxicological aspects. Last,...