The scientific project led by João Mano and Catarina Custódio, from the University of Aveiro, is the winner of Bluepharma | University of Coimbra Innovation Award 2019, and intends to use materials based on human proteins, as totally innovative and versatile platforms for the culture of cells in 3D, development of micro tissues and models of diseases.
According to the researchers, the project focuses on the development of microenvironments in vitro, which provide cells with biochemical and mechanical signals that are part of their natural environment. This is achieved by manipulating proteins isolated from blood plasma or perinatal tissues to prepare a new generation of hydrogels with controlled mechanical properties capable of encapsulating almost any type of cell. The raw materials used in this project, derived from human donors are easily accessible without causing morbidity at the donor site.
This innovative technology of humanized 3D micro-fabrics opens up a series of possibilities for the study of diseases and personalized medicine and, therefore, targeted therapeutic approaches with high clinical and translational potential.
The project team, which also includes researchers Sara Santos, Cátia Monteiro and Inês Deus, intends to develop effective platforms such as 3D models of diseases to assess toxicity during drug discovery and validation, while also having the potential to reduce the number of animals used in this type of tests.
The winning project will receive a monetary prize of 20 thousand euros, which in the future may also translate into an additional investment of 30 thousand euros. The Prize jury, made up of some of the best researchers in the country, highlights its originality, innovation and potential value creation for society, which is why it ranked first among 26 competing projects.
The Bluepharma Innovation Award ceremony | University of Coimbra 2019 took place this Tuesday, July 7, in the Senate Room of the Rectory of the University of Coimbra (UC).
Chaired by the Dean of the University of Coimbra, Amílcar Falcão, the ceremony was attended by Paulo Barradas Rebelo, President of Bluepharma, company promoting the Prize, and Fernando Seabra Santos, President of the Jury, among other individuals.
With a biennial periodicity, the Bluepharma Innovation Award | University of Coimbra aims to distinguish scientific projects of excellence at the 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 jury of Bluepharma | University of Coimbra Innovation Award 2019, was formed by researchers Carlos Faro (Biocant), Luís Almeida (BlueClinical), Miguel Botto (Portugal Ventures), Sérgio Simões (Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Coimbra and Bluepharma) and Fernando Seabra Santos (Faculty of Sciences, University of Coimbra), while President of the Jury.
Bluepharma Award | University of Coimbra
Created in 2003 with the general objective of contributing to the dissemination and recognition of scientific research in the area of health sciences in Portugal, the Bluepharma / University Coimbra Award awarded in its first 8 editions researchers with doctoral theses published in Portugal. Consisting of a monetary prize and the publication of a book containing the work of the researchers, the prize aimed specifically to analyze the scientific production developed in Portuguese universities, providing its prizewinners with conditions for its dissemination beyond the university community itself.