miRNA-DisEASY HOME PAGE
DEVELOPING A NOVEL DETECTION PLATFORM FOR MICRORNAS USEFUL AS IMPROVED BIOMARKERS FOR DETECTION OF LUNG CANCER AND CLINICAL DECISION MAKING.
Significant scientific progress continues to be made in the fields of genomics and transcriptomics. Understandings regarding gene expression regulation are also increasing rapidly, and are now being applied for medical diagnostic benefit. Very short sequences of ribonucleic acids have been discovered recently. They are called micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs), and are showing huge promise as clinical biomarkers, diagnostic tools for illness and disease, and as potential drugs in their own right. Changes of expression of miRNAs occur in an organ’s cell in response to disease and illnesses. It is now believed that detection of infections, cancer and drug toxicities could be improved by testing for sets of miRNAs. New miRNA based assays offer the prospect of a using these new and novel biomarkers to improve analysis, diagnosis and decision making for clinicians, when facing treatment options for sick patients.
However, development of miRNA detection applied to clinical practice and decision making has been blocked to date by the costly and complex sample preparations and target miRNA amplifications required to detect miRNAs extracted from human tissue. Laboratory to laboratory standardization also remains challenging, with too much variation to date. Direct detection from blood via liquid biopsies would be an ideal, less invasive test method, but detection methods until now are not yet sufficiently sensitive or reliable.
Into this context, and the ongoing significant challenge to develop and deliver a cost effective, highly sensitive but reliable test method for miRNAs have come two innovative EU companies, Optoi Microelectronics - with micro-electronic know-how and manufacturing skills - and DestiNA Genomica – with its ‘error free’ chemical technology for microRNAs recognition.
To complement and accelerate the development towards a robust clinical assay platform, the companies have joined forces with three key academic research groups from the Universities of Trento (UNITN -Italy) , Granada (UGR -Spain) and Santa Catarina (UFSC -Brazil). All the parties have agreed to combine their knowledge and technologies with respect to miRNA biomarkers, with a particular focus on developing a novel, reliable miRNA detection system for lung cancer. The strong network created between the companies and the academic institutions will provide a unique scientific and technological environment to translate research outputs into an innovative products for healthcare advance.
After the end of the first year of the project, the consortium has undergone the inclusion of two new partners in order to complement the expertise: Medizinischen Hochschule Hannover (MHM - Germany) and GeneXplain (GNX - Germany) have formally joined the project.
The miRNA-DisEASY consortium, supported by grant under its Horizon 2020 programme (MSCA-RISE), will provide a vehicle to enhance the sharing, education and training of talented researchers in this biomarker field of the future, and to enable the development of ‘first in class’ assays with worldwide medical and commercial appeal.
"This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 690866” “The research at UFSC is being supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)”
Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) provides funding for joint research and innovation projects implemented through exchange of staff and networking based on international and inter-sector collaborations. RISE involves organisations from the academic and non-academic sectors (in particular SMEs), based in Europe (EU Member States and Associated Countries) and outside Europe (third countries). Staff exchange between universities and non-academic institutions can be a powerful catalyst for innovation. The scheme fosters a shared culture of research and innovation that welcomes and rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and helps to turn creative ideas into innovative products, services or processes. For more information click here.
EVENTS AND DISSEMINATION
(last updated in July 2018)
The upcoming secondments or stays are namely:
- Unitn is implementing a 4-month secondment in UFSC, from April to August
- Genexplain is implementing a 3-month secondment in Unitn, from late May to August
- Destina is implementing two split stays in Unitn in July / August
- Unitn is planning a secondment in Genexplain in July / August
- MHH is planning a split stay in Destina in early September and another in Optoi in late September
The following events relating subjects of interest are taking place:
- A course on "Statistical Data Analysis for Genome Scale Biology" will be held between 8th and 13th July in Bressanone (Bozen) (link)
|Press release promoting the project (in Italian; HTML page in English here), Feb. 2017||click here|
|Dr Cristina Ress is the coordinator of the miRNA-DisEASY project and leads the Biomedical team in Optoi Microelectronics. The multidisciplinary team develops optical, physical and electrochemical sensors for several biomedical applications. The main activities are focused on novel diagnostic devices to deliver new technologies in the biotech and medical sectors.|
|DestiNA's CEO Mr Hugh Ilyine has founded biotechnology companies in regenerative medicine, bio-similar therapeutics and molecular diagnostics. He brings considerable experience in working with academic researchers as well as developing and commercialising biotechnology and know-how. From managing a successful IPO on the London AIM market, the formation of a Japanese joint venture stem cell company, to managing companies in Indonesia and Australia for the Rhone-Poulenc group, Hugh brings extensive global experience in out-licensing IP and Trademarks in Europe, the US and Japan.|
|Prof. Michela Denti leads the RNA Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory of CIBIO at the University of Trento. The group has a strong focus on the functional analysis of the miRNAs in several diseases searching for their target genes and investigating their role in pathogenesis. Lung cancer is one of the main target diseases of the group's researches.|
|Dr Angel Orte leads a research group within the Department of Physical Chemistry (Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Granada). The main focus of the group lies in research, development and application of new fluorescence-based biophysical methods to important problems in chemistry, biology and biomedicine, ranging from studies on single biomolecules to living cells.|
|Prof. Tania Creczynski-Pasa leads the GEIMM group, in the Department of Pharmaceutical Science at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. The activity of the group has been focusing on new compounds for cancer therapy. Lately the group is interested in RNA, following two principal directions. One is the development of nanocarries for short interfering RNA (siRNA), principally aimed at cancer therapy. The second direction concerns the study of miRNAs as biomarkers for diagnosis for several human diseases, principally cancer.|
|Prof. Dr. Jürgen Borlak is the Director of the Institute of Pharmaco- and Toxicogenomics at Hannover Medical School. This new field of genomic science applies a wide range of methods in genetics, molecular biology, molecular toxicology and functional genomics for a better understanding of disease causing mechanisms and drug induced toxicities. An array of enabling technologies are applied for an identification of “drugable” targets and for a better understanding of inter-individual differences in drug response, therefore allowing individualized drug treatment regimens and disease prevention strategies.|
|Dr Alexander Kel is the major driving force behind geneXplain’s science and technology. During his career, he has worked in almost all branches of current bioinformatics including: theoretical models of molecular genetic information systems, sequence analysis, gene recognition, promoter analysis and prediction, analysis of protein secondary structure, prediction of RNA secondary structure, theory of mutation and recombination process, molecular evolution, databases and gene expression studies.|