The project, led by Marta Costa, from the University of Minho School of Medicine, is the winner of the Bluepharma Innovation Award | University of Coimbra 2021, and consists of a new solution for cancer patients, being a less aggressive treatment and with the potential to increase the survival rate of these patients.
The treatment is based on the SM001 molecule, which has an innovative mode of action, unlike all other drugs currently in use in cancer, and has demonstrated remarkable activity in aggressive cancers with poor prognosis, such as renal cell carcinoma (RCC).
SM001, already tested in animal models, inhibits the proliferation and invasiveness of malignant cells, including those resistant to therapy, and induces their death. This molecule significantly reduces the size of tumors and the blood vessels that support them, showing an excellent safety profile.
RCC is the most lethal cancer of the urological system, and is often diagnosed in advanced stages. Mortality at 5 years is high: 47% and 92% for stages III and IV, respectively. Patients with CRC have low rates of response to therapy, high frequency of recurrence and resistance to therapies, which reinforces the need for new therapeutic solutions. RCC is still considered a rare disease, so SM001 can still benefit from the advantages associated with the designation of an “orphan drug”, making the drug development process faster.
The research group at the University of Minho, which includes researchers Fátima Baltazar (School of Medicine) and Maria Fernanda Proença (School of Science), believes they have discovered a safe and effective molecule, with an innovative mode of action, which has the potential to increase survival and improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
The winning project will receive a cash prize of 20 thousand euros, which in the future may also translate into an additional investment of 30 thousand euros. The award's jury, constituted by some of the best researchers in the country, highlights its originality, innovation and potential creation of value for society, reason why it was awarded first place among the 13 competing projects.
The Bluepharma Innovation Award Ceremony | University of Coimbra 2021 took place this Tuesday, June 21, in the Senate Room of the Rectory of the University of Coimbra (UC).
Chaired by the Rector of the University of Coimbra, Amílcar Falcão, the ceremony was attended by Paulo Barradas Rebelo, President of Bluepharma, the company promoting the Award, and Fernando Seabra Santos, President of the Jury, among other individuals.
Biennially, the Bluepharma Innovation Award | University of Coimbra aims to distinguish scientific projects of excellence at an international level in the area of Health Sciences, which have a high potential for transformation into products or services, with real interest for society.
The Bluepharma Innovation Award jury | University of Coimbra 2021, was formed by elements of recognized national prestige: Luís Pereira de Almeida (CNC), Luís Almeida (BlueClinical), Miguel Botto (Portugal Ventures), Sérgio Simões (Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Coimbra and Bluepharma) and Fernando Seabra Santos (Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra), as President of the Jury.
Photo and video credits: University of Coimbra