A prestigious European grant to support international collaboration in cancer research goes to RCPTM

The establishment of a platform for international collaboration in research into the targeted treatment of osteosarcoma, a malignant bone disease, is the goal of the NANO4TARMED grant supported under the Twinning call, part of the prestigious Horizon 2020 programme, obtained by Václav Ranc from the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) of Palacký University. The Olomouc scientist and his colleagues will work with scientists at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Italy and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Only four projects from the Czech Republic have succeeded in this call, two of them from Palacký University. The establishment of an international consortium is one of the conditions for obtaining major H2020 grants.

The above-mentioned institutions have joined their effort to advance research into osteosarcoma treatment, which is the second most common malignant bone disease and affects mostly adolescent children. “Colleagues from Ireland are excellent experts in drug development. We, at RCPTM, deliver nanoparticles that could be used to transport the drug to the affected tissue. This is an issue we have been dealing with for a long time. And partners from Italy will use their experience in testing this targeted treatment on cancer cells,” described the interconnection Václav Ranc, a project coordinator.

Alongside the research as such, the project also aims to promote mutual cooperation. “The most important thing is to establish a research cluster, a kind of platform for cooperation. We must learn to cooperate with one another and share our knowledge and experience, including exchanges, seminars or workshops. This will significantly increase our chances of winning major European grants in the future, enabling us to bring the research to a successful end, that is to say, to develop an effective strategy for treating this cancer,” added Ranc. Along with him, three other RCPTM researchers, and three from Italy and Ireland, will be involved in the project called Advanced hybrid theranostic nanoplatforms for an active drug delivery in the cancer treatment. The total funding for this three-year grant exceeds 19 million Czech Crowns.

The RCPTM deputy director, Michal Otyepka, says that obtaining such a grant is great success. “This is a very important programme for building international consortia. We consider international collaboration to be extremely important for RCPTM, enabling the exchange of experience and knowledge. It is important for achieving valuable results that smaller and isolated teams can find difficult to achieve especially in the field of interdisciplinary research, of which the project is an exemplary demonstration. I am glad that, thanks to this grant, we can not only expand our international collaboration network and research areas, but we are also acquiring important know-how for further major funding opportunities,” said Otyepka.

A total of 439 proposals were submitted for the TWINNING call, which closed last November, with 437 proposals having been evaluated. The total funding for the call is €69 million, allowing the funding of 77 projects. Portugal received the largest number of grants (13) followed by Estonia and Poland (8), Serbia (7) and Turkey (6). The next place is the Czech Republic and Lithuania, with 4 grants. Of the Czech applicants, Masaryk University and Mendel University (one grant each) have succeeded in addition to Palacký University, where the second grant awarded also goes to the Faculty of Science. The aim of the call is to help overcome disparities between the member states and regions in developing and harnessing research and innovation potential, promote participation in Horizon 2020 and contribute to more equal dissemination of excellent research in the European research area.