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The project led by Ana Beloqui has received €2.3 million in funding from the European Commission through the MSCA programme to research new strategies in the fight against cancer

The TheraTools project aims to develop new tools to advance research into one of the cancers with the worst possible prognosis, glioblastoma. It is a high-level research project supported by the second call of the European Marie Sklodowska Curie programme of Horizon Europe, a network that supports the training and professional development of pre-doctoral researchers from around the world through their participation in collaborative projects that address current and future societal challenges. The project has received €2.3 million in funding from the European Commission through this programme.

TheraTools is a collaborative project led by POLYMAT and the University of the Basque Country, with the participation of the Technion Institute (Israel), the Italian Institute of Technology (Italy) and the University of Aveiro (Portugal). In addition, the project has the support of six companies, two of them located in the Basque Country (Polimerbio and I+Med), one Spanish (Beonchip) and another three with European headquarters (MetatissueNanoscribe GmbH and VetexMachina). The project is coordinated by the Ikerbasque researcher at the UPV/EHU and POLYMAT Ana Beloqui, together with a team of researchers also from the UPV/EHU and POLYMAT made up of Marcelo CalderonSandra Camarero and Aitor Larrañaga.

As Ana Beloqui explains, "the idea arose from a previous project funded by the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa in which the POLYMAT-UPV/EHU researchers wanted to combine our knowledge and experience in a joint project, which has finally turned out to be the seed of TheraTools". The researcher adds that "we plan to carry out multidisciplinary research that will have two essential objectives. On the one hand, research will focus on the development of new polymeric agents capable of transporting therapeutic antibodies to the brain, crossing the blood-brain barrier. In the vicinity of the tumour, the polymeric material will "release" the antibody to exert its therapeutic action. On the other hand, TheraTools is committed to reducing animal experimentation, for which it has proposed research into the design and manufacture of glioblastoma models using tools based on 3D printing and microfluidics. The project proposes the use of these models as platforms for screening agents with potential therapeutic effect". Ana Beloqui explains that "TheraTools is more than a scientific project, it is also a training network. A total of 9 PhD students will join our network and carry out research projects within the framework of TheraTools. In addition, there will be information sessions aimed at the general public".

About the researchers

Ana Beloqui holds a PhD in Chemistry and is a senior researcher at POLYMAT - UPV/EHU thanks to a Ramón y Cajal contract and the Ikerbasque Foundation. In 2021 she was awarded the Prize for Young Research Group Leaders of the Biological Chemistry Group by the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry. Marcelo Calderon holds a PhD in Chemistry and is Ikerbasque Research Professor at POLYMAT where he leads the Responsive Polymer Therpautics group. Sandra Camarero is PhD in Polymer Chemistry and Bioengineering and Principal Investigator at POLYMAT thanks to an Ikerbasque Fellow contract. Aitor Larrañaga is Assistant Professor at the School of Engineering of Bilbao - UPV/EHU and principal investigator in POLYMAT.