Porto researchers develop marine hydrogels for medical use
The RISE Associated Laboratory – Health Research Network and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP) are participating in a new European project that aims to develop and produce marine hydrogels for use in healthcare while strengthening innovation networks between scientists in the Atlantic region and promoting the blue economy.
Coordinated by the University of Bordeaux (Institute of Oncology) in France, the BOTS (Blue Organoids for Treatment Selection) project will involve scientists from four countries: France, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal.
BOTS was funded by the INTERREG program to the tune of 2.5 million euros. The budget of FMUP is about 450.000 Euro and the total budget is 3,4 million Euro (including the INTERREG and the funding of the institutions involved in the project).
The main objective is to “develop hydrogels from marine biopolymers (from fish, crustaceans and algae) for 3D tumor cell culture. The marine hydrogels will be chemically modified to support the growth of human cells and provide the physical properties needed for bioprinting.”
The research team, which includes experts in marine biology, chemistry, medicine, biophysics, and 3D culture, will focus on creating hydrogels that can be used in clinical drug trials using automated 3D printing technology.
“The 3D culture market is worth more than one billion euros per year, which represents an enormous potential for job creation in the Atlantic area,” say the researchers, who also indicate the goal of creating two SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to produce hydrogels, provide diagnostic services and test drugs for personalized medicine.
In addition to the RISE Associated Laboratory and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP), the project has a partnership with the University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour (The Institute of Analytical Sciences and Physico-Chemistry for Environment and Materials), in France, as well as the Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences, in Spain, and the Royal College of Surgeons, in Ireland.
The principal researchers are Fernando Schmitt (CINTESIS@RISE/FMUP), Alberto Freitas (CINTESIS@RISE/FMUP), Leonor David (FMUP), and Irene Gullo (FMUP).