The Kick-off Meeting of PERSEUS took place in Parma on 15 and 16 March. PERSEUS, which is coordinated by the Institute of Materials for Electronics and Magnetism of the CNR (CNR-IMEM), is funded with over 2.7 million Euros from the European Union under the competitive EIC Pathfinder Open program for the development of emerging innovative technologies. It is also supported with 257 thousand Euros from UKRI, the UK’s Research and Innovation Agency. The project, which will last for the next 4 years, harnesses materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine in order to develop a ground-breaking new treatment against cancer
In addition to CNR-IMEM, the PERSEUS includes a multidisciplinary consortium consisting of Karolinska Institutet (SE), Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (IL), Universidade de Vigo (ES), Wigner Fizikai Kutatóközpont (HU), BeDimensional SPA (IT), QED Film & Stage Productions LTD (UK).
The opening day , organised by CNR-IMEM, was attended by world-leading institutions in the fields of biology, medicine, and materials science, as well as representatives from the European Commission, the National Research Council and an Open Science Expert from the GARR Consortium.
PERSEUS, whose full name is 2D Material-Based Multiple Oncotherapy Against Metastatic Disease Using a Radically New Computed Tomography Approach, will develop organic/inorganic nanovehicles that, delivered by liposomes guided by specific monoclonal antibodies (mAb) and under low-energy X-ray irradiation, will be able to kill deep-seated solid-tumour cells not reachable by other physical probes (e.g. light). An important innovation of the project is that the nanovehicle is agnostic with respect to the type of solid tumour. In addition, the nanovehicle is totally inactive in the body in the absence of X-ray irradiation, and is cytocompatible. The project includes applications in the fields of oncotherapy, theranostics, and the use and development of therapeutic systems based on low-energy X-ray irradiation, CT scans, etc. The expected impact is broad-ranging since PERSEUS aims to test possible additive or synergistic effects with other therapies, including immunotherapy and molecular target therapies (the basis of personalised medicine).
A distinctive aspect of the project is its intrinsic interdisciplinarity, which involves a multi-year collaboration between physicists, chemists, biologists, and medical professionals. The project also has potentially significant industrial applications of interest to innovative start-ups and companies engaged in the development of therapeutic CT scans.
The project’s coordinator and scientific manager is Giancarlo Salviati, Associate Research Director at CNR-IMEM. Giancarlo Salviati has proven international and national experience, acquired in over 40 years of research activities at the CNR, in the study and engineering of materials, films, and nanostructures for optoelectronic, nanoelectronic, and biomedical applications.