“A European consortium is exploring the application of nanoparticles in the diagnosis and treatment of breast and pancreatic cancer”

Madrid, 27 June 2011

  • The project is coordinated from Spain by Atos Origin and by the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Nanoscience (IMDEA).
  • Sixteen European companies and institutions are participating in the project, which is funded by the European Union and which will last until 2015.
  • Its objective is to develop new systems based upon nanotechnology for the early detection of tumours and more effective treatments with fewer side effects.

Atos Origin, an international IT services company and IMDEA Nanoscience, an R&D Institute, today announced that they are  coordinating together from Madrid, Spain,  the European Union project on MultiFunctional Nanotechnology for Selective Detection and Treatment of Cancer . There are sixteen European companies and institutions involved in the project which has two main objectives:  the development of new ways for diagnosing cancer enabling earlier detection and risk reduction, and the design of more personalised, more effective treatments, with fewer side effects.

This recently launched project that will continue until 2015 is funded by the European Union through the Seventh Framework Programme with 9.8 million euro and brings together sixteen partners from different fields (biomedicine, oncology, chemistry and information technology), countries (Spain, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic) and profiles (large and small companies, hospitals, universities and research centres).

The scientific coordination of the project is led by the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Nanoscience (IMDEA Nanociencia), an international scientific research centre created jointly by the Region of Madrid and the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain, with the financial support of the European Union and the European Investment bank, to promote different lines of basic and advance research.  Atos Origin, through its R&D&I hub, Atos Research & Innovation, based in Spain, is responsible for the general coordination and the software development for the IT teams, as well as providing support for the dissemination and exploitation of the results.

Figure A and B Figure 1: a) Images obtained using an optical microscope of human epithelial cells from a cervical carcinoma  where magnetic nanoparticles can be observed inside (brown spots).

b) Image of similar cells following cell division. Further information available at: A. Villanueva et al. Nanotechnology 20, 115103 (2009).

According to Blanca Jordán, Manager of the Health Sector at Atos Research & Innovation,  “at this time, we are just beginning to imagine the possibilities that nanotechnology can offer in medicine, and this project is going to be a significant milestone in this new line of diagnostic and therapeutic work. For Atos Origin, it is exciting to be able to participate in the initial applications which are being developed with this new technology”.

Meanwhile, Rodolfo Miranda, Director of the IMDEA Nanociencia , stated that “The project may open the door to future  applications of nanoscience to breast and pancreatic cancer, such as the use of biocompatible, multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles capable of acting at the same time as selective contrast agents for imaging, as carriers for delivery of therapeutic drugs and as magnetic induction probes for thermal therapy” The  main goal  is to develop and examine the potential of nanoparticles with various functionalities for the detection and elimination of carcinogenic stem cells, a cell type that is involved in different phases of cancer.”

The project will deploy a strategy based upon the use of nanoparticles with combined therapeutic, diagnostic and anti-tumouralfunctions s. The nucleus of the nanoparticles will be composed of iron oxide, with superparamagnetic properties, and they will be covered with a layer of polysaccharides which will enable the nanoparticles to be biologically compatible. The treatment will be multimodal, combining the heating of the nanoparticles through magnetic induction with the direct application of anticarcinogenic agents to the cancerous cells. These cancerous cells are more sensitive to temperature increases than healthy cells, which makes it possible to selectively eliminate them by means of the localised application of heat that is generated by applying alternative magnetic fields to the magnetic nanoparticles.

Drug ‘nanocarriers'

Given that nanoparticles can be detected through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they can also be used as highly selective contrast agents, thus combining a therapeutic focus with a diagnostic one, in what is known as “Theragnosis”. This project will also study the  possibility of using  nanoparticles as “nanocarriers” of anti-carcinogenic drugs for their local delivery to tumours, which would increase the therapeutic effect derived from selective heating of tumor cells.

The project has four main themes: (i) synthesis of non-toxic iron nanoparticles which shall be transported through the bloodstream; (ii) identification of specific cell markers for carcinogenic cells in order to selectively direct the nanoparticles to the tumour; (iii) modification of drugs which are to be administered to the tumour by these nanoparticles; (iv) development of clinical scoring to reinforce the heat treatment and the detection-quantification of nanoparticles in tissues, blood and urine.

About Atos Origin
Atos Origin is a leading international Information Technology (IT) services company, providing Hi-Tech Transactional Services, Consulting, Systems Integration and Managed Services to deliver business outcomes globally. The company's annual revenues are EUR 5 billion and it employs 48,000 people. Atos Origin is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic Games and has a client base of international companies across all sectors. Atos Origin is quoted on the Paris Eurolist Market and trades as Atos Origin, Atos Worldline and Atos Consulting.

About IMDEA Nanoscience
IMDEA Nanociencia (Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Nanoscience) is a non profit foundation created in 2007 with the financial support of the European Union and the European Investment Bank through a joint initiative of the Madrid Regional Government and the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain, The Institute offers world class facilities and an optimal framework  where multidisciplinary research groups can address important issues in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Other institute missions include training scientific and technical staff, promoting technology transfer and the creation of companies and contributing to the economic development of Madrid and Spain. For further information: www.nanociencia.imdea.org

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For more information:
Victoria Erice
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IMDEA Nanociencia
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