“Microparticles and microRNAs in the fight against cancer: A novel diagnostic and therapeutic tool for the prevention and therapy of metastatic breast cancer”
MICROCURE aims to advance a new class of therapeutic agents, based on microparticles (MPs) derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that can selectively target tumours in vivo. These MPs are designed to enclose and deliver microRNAs (miRNAs) that affect the action of genes associated with cancer growth, neovascularisation and metastasis. There is an urgent need to develop targeted strategies for cancer therapy and miRNAs have been proposed as a promising strategy due to their ability to target multiple tumour-related genes. Furthermore, curren treatments have yet to achieve complete tumour eradication, due mainly to difficulties in effectively blocking the complex cancer growth process as well as due to inadequate delivery of therapeutic agents to the tumour site. The rationale for using MSCs derived from human umbilical cords is based on the concept that these cells have the ability to home and engraft in solid tumours, are karyotypically stable and induce immunosuppression through cytokine inhibition. We are developing a novel, licensable concept for delivery of therapeutic miRNAs via an engineered, tumor-targeting membrane vehicle that can enhance selective delivery to solid tumours and improve treatment outcomes. In the present study, we will define the role of a novel oncoprotein in breast cancer biology and we will unveil the miRNA regulator that targets and suppresses it in vivo. We will develop a metastasis-specific miRNA biomarker as a diagnostic too and we will advance a novel therapeutic strategy based on our patented miRNA-containing MPs, targeting both primary tumors and metastatic foci. What this project aims to achieve is t broaden the young researcher’s scientific expertise with experience gained in other research domains, as well as to provide effective exposure to management and entrepreneurship principles that play a crucial role in nurturing a new category of researcher: the “entrepreneurial academic”.
Consortium: Cyprus University of Technology (HO), Theramir Ltd (PA1) and Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens (FRO)
Total budget: €159,442
Funding Agency: The Project is co–funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research & Innovation Foundation.