New metal-based anticancer agents for photodynamic therapy

The University of Barcelona (UB), through its knowledge transfer office the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, has awarded a €25,000 grant to the project New metal-based anticancer agents for photodynamic therapy, led by Dr Vicente Marchán of the Department of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry of the UB Faculty of Chemistry. The resources were awarded under the Proof of Concept grants (PoC) in the 2022 Fund for the Promotion of Innovation (F2I) call.

Research into new photosensitisers based on complex metals for photodynamic therapy to treat cancer is a very hot topic in both academia and industry. As proof of the scientific community’s interest in this line of research, a ruthenium polypyridyl complex has just started a phase II clinical trial in humans to treat bladder cancer.

In this context, the research group led by Dr Marchán has developed a new family of photosensitisers that have shown very promising phototoxic activity in fighting various types of cancer cells, even in hypoxic conditions, which would make it possible to treat deep hypoxic tumours with irradiation of light within the phototherapeutic window.

One of the main priorities of this proof of concept proposal is to find a pharmaceutical application for these new photosensitisers, so it expects to research the biological activity of one of the most promising compounds in depth.

Thanks to the grant awarded in the F2I call, UB researchers will be able to assess the photosensitiser in vivo and create a commercialisation plan in order to start transferring the knowledge to companies working in the photodynamic therapy market through negotiations and out-licensing. An external consultant has already begun this task, with support from FBG.

Grants to encourage transfer

The Bosch i Gimpera Foundation earmarked a total of €100,000 for the Proof of Concept grants (PoC) in the 2022 Fund for the Promotion of Innovation (F2I) call. This call aims to drive innovation and valorisation of projects at the University of Barcelona with high potential for transfer and impact on our society.

The Proof of Concept grants are for UB researchers leading transfer projects in which the University owns or co-owns both the knowledge and prior technology and the results the grant would apply to.

Since 2016, the Fund for the Promotion of Innovation programme has led to six spin-offs: AIGecko Technologies, Bluephage, ColorSensing, Mind & Identity, NeurekaLAB, and Virtual Bodyworks. It has also made it possible to licence six technologies and has leveraged over €5 million in public and private funding.

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