Training the next generation of experts in bio-orthogonal catalysis for cancer therapy

The consortium comprises several renowned European players, both academic and industrial, in fields necessary for the development of bio-orthogonal therapies and combines the knowledge required, starting from material synthesis, catalysis activation, in vitro cancer cell studies up to in vivo animal studies to test the efficacy of the developed systems.

The 13 students to be recruited within the programme will also receive practical training on transferable skills to increase their employability and qualify them for positions in the private and public sectors, including training on scientific communication, diversity and inclusion, gender balance, entrepreneurship and translation, and innovation strategies, among others.

The development of novel cancer therapies is a major challenge for academic research and pharmaceutical industries. Although the recent progress in traditional treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy improved the clinical outcome of cancer patients, there is a strong need for new and effective approaches as well as for a new generation of young scientists trained to tackle these challenges from a multidisciplinary perspective.

The THERACAT consortium will establish an international training programme focused on the development of catalysis-based approaches towards the cure of cancer, based on the delivery of nano- and micro-particles bearing a catalytic unit to the tumour site and subsequent administration of  non-active prodrugs to the patient. The prodrugs are non-toxic and therefore generate limited side effects. Only at the tumour site the catalytic particles convert the prodrugs into active anticancer compounds that generate a local and strong effect, as single catalytic species can uncage a large number of drugs. “This approach presents several advantages on the classical drug delivery paradigm, including limited side effects and prolonged efficacy”, says IBEC’s Nanoscopy for Nanomedicine Group Leader Dr. Lorenzo Albertazzi, who will coordinate the €3.4m project. “The final aim of the THERACAT network is to consolidate Europe as the world leader in novel catalysis-based approach for cancer therapy”.

THERACAT is one of the 149 projects selected from 1718 applications received in the present call, and one of the few coordinated from Spain.

The kick-off meeting of the network will be held at IBEC on May 31st, 2018.

Webpage of the project: