ProREGEN wins Bluepharma | University of Coimbra Innovation Award 2017


The scientific project "ProREGEN", developed by Mónica Sousa, Sara Sousa and Ana Rita Pinto Costa, from the Institute of Research and Innovation in Health of the University of Porto (i3S), is the winner of the Bluepharma | University of Coimbra Innovation Award 2017.


"ProREGEN" is a therapy that intends to improve the regeneration of the nervous system, where the repair of the spinal cord is necessary, acting on lesions of the nervous system and neurodegenerative diseases, through the Profilin-1 (Pfn1) protein that regulates the cytoskeleton. The jury highlighted its originality, innovation, market viability and the potential value for society, which is why the first place amongst 23 competing projects was awarded.


The award ceremony for the Bluepharma | University of Coimbra Innovation Award 2017 will be held this Thursday, June 28th, in the Senate Room of the Rectory of the University of Coimbra.


The ceremony will be chaired by the Rector of the University of Coimbra, João Gabriel Silva. Paulo Barradas, President of the Board of Directors of Bluepharma, the Prize promoting company, and Seabra Santos, President of the Jury, among other individuals, will also attend the ceremony.


The winning project will receive a monetary prize of 20,000 euros to evaluate in vivo (in rats with sciatic nerve damage or spinal cord injury) the regenerative potential of Profilin-1 (Pfn1), a protein that regulates skeletal dynamics, active after a lesion.


According to the researchers, "in vitro" results already demonstrated that Pfn1 is an axon growth promoter, with "robust and surprising" effects. If it is successful 'in vivo', this therapy may also have applications in other diseases, in which regeneration is necessary. Monetary support may also translate into an additional investment of 30 000 euros, once its market viability has been proven.


PROREGEN team points out that despite "considerable progress" in medical, surgical and rehabilitation procedures, "there are no effective treatments for neurological recovery." Therefore, it is essential to identify therapies that promote axon regrowth (extension of the neuron that establishes a connection to a target cell) and repair of the marrow, acting on lesions of the nervous system and neurodegenerative diseases.


Every two years, the Bluepharma | University of Coimbra Innovation Award aims to distinguish scientific projects of excellence at an international level in the area of Health Sciences, which present high potential to be developed into products or services with real interest for society.


The jury of this contest, composed by some of the best researchers in Portugal, Carlos Faro (Biocant), Luís Almeida (University of Porto and 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), considered this to be the best project, taking into account evaluation criteria such as merit, originality, innovation, potential contribution and impact of the scientific project and differentiation from the competition.