A prestigious European project to research targeted treatments for osteosarcoma has started

The joint online meeting on 14 January launched the NANO4TARMED project investigation from the Twinning call, part of the prestigious Horizon 2020 programme. This three-year project, with the total funding of around 19 million CZK, will enable scientists from RCPTM of Palacký University; the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Italy; and the National University of Ireland Maynooth to build a platform for international cooperation in research into targeted treatments for osteosarcoma, a malignant bone disease, and it also will significantly increase their chances of succeeding in other European project calls.

“The purpose of the first meeting, which was attended by investigators from all the three partner institutions alongside representatives of the European Commission, was to present the operating principles of the newly formed consortium, describe the individual work packages and, above all, meet the individual members. We managed to accomplish these tasks, even though the ongoing covid-19 pandemic meant that we could only meet online. The individual workplaces presented research activities that will be useful for the development of nanoplatforms for targeted drug research,” explained the project’s lead coordinator Václav Ranc from RCPTM.

While colleagues from Ireland are, according to Ranc, excellent specialists in drug development, RCPTM scientists will offer their expertise in the development of nanoparticles that could be used to transport the drug to the affected tissue. Partners from Italy will focus on testing this targeted treatment on cancer cells. “At the same time, our colleagues have extensive experience in implementing major European projects. Therefore, we will be able to share not only the scientific knowledge but also the know-how associated with the management of such projects,” said Ranc.

Seminars, workshops and internships for PhD students will also contribute to building the research cluster, which will serve as a kind of collaborative platform. The project managers will also seek inspiration from foreign partners. Raising publication performance by 20 percent is another goal. “Although the pandemic complicates the start of the project, I believe we will build an efective research cluster. We have also set up risk management to make sure we will meet all the milestones despite the difficult conditions. In the future, we could thus succeed in applying for large European grants to bring the research to a successful conclusion, i.e. to develop an effective treatment strategy for this cancer type,” added Ranc.

The Twinning call aims to help to overcome disparities among Member States and regions in developing and exploiting research and innovation potential, to support participation in Horizon Europe and to contribute to a more even spread of excellence in research in the European research area. A total of 439 proposals were submitted in the last call, which closed in November 2019. Four Czech applicants succeeded, with two projects going to Palacký University and one each to Masaryk University and Mendel University. Scientists in the Czech Republic have received funding for 15 different projects as part of four calls since 2015.