diaRNAgnosis is a new pan-European, multidisciplinary and intersectoral team which aims to develop a reliable and innovative method and platform to identify cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsies.
Circulating cell-free ribonucleic acids (ccfRNAs) represent an emerging and important class of molecules able to provide significant clinical relevance as novel screening, prognostic and therapy monitoring biomarkers in cancer. Through analysing specific circulating RNA sequences and, their mutations and concentrations in biological fluids, to different cancers can be accurately correlated for type and stage.
Sadly, despite extensive academic and clinical research identifying and validating in limited clinical trials, ccfRNAs have not yet entered the field of clinical diagnostics. The current analytical methods remain less than satisfactory, and until now ccfRNA detection remains challenging, costly, and requires elaborate sample preparations. Further compounding the challenges, variable losses of target RNA are common, and RNA retro-transcription and amplification are not sufficiently reliable for clinical decision-making. Finally, RT-qPCR, the current gold-standard technology has to be performed and interpreted by highly specialised laboratory personnel.
Prompted by these current analytical limitations, but the real-life need for improved cancer assays for healthcare systems, two innovative European companies, DESTINA Genomica SL (Spain) and OPTOI SRL (Italy) have developed the “ODG Platform” for direct measurement of circulating RNA molecules.
The diaRNAgnosis project objective is to complete development of the ODG platform, delivering reliable and robust detection of novel ccfRNA signatures that could be linked to specific cancer types. To ensure timely delivery and success of the diaRNAgnosis project, DESTINA and OPTOI have involved partners to add real value to the consortium. These are the Spanish company NanoGetic SL (specializing in nanotechnologies); three key academic research groups from the Universities of Trento and Catania (Italy), Granada (Spain); as well as the Princess Máxima Center (Nederland). The new consortium will develop a reliable and innovative method and platform to identify cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsies. The research collaboration will address the need to perform high sensitivity/high specificity analysis of ccfRNAs that are over-expressed in testicular germ cell tumour (TGCT) and prostate cancer (PCa). diaRNAgnosis continues an experimental work started in the past, and enable prospective studies to be undertaken on the ODG platform once performance has been validated with clinical samples. Existing partnerships with healthcare institutions ensure multi-site and multi-ethnic sampling. In parallel, the optimization and validation of the OPTOI semiconductor optical detector for detection of ccfRNAs will continue. DESTINA patented reagents for known and putative cancer biomarkers will be designed, synthesised and integrated with the OPTOI sensor and platform. The strong network created between the companies and the academic institutions provides a unique scientific and technological environment to more rapidly turn the research discoveries into innovative products the clinical diagnostic field, leading to improved healthcare for patients.
DESTINA Genomica SL is a molecular diagnostic company based in Granada's Health Science Technological Park. The company's origins are focused on the application and validation of its proprietary technology for the direct, PCR-free detection and analysis of nucleic acids. DESTINA has commenced licensing its patented technology under evaluation and development agreements with pharmaceutical, molecular diagnostic and analytical platform companies, as well as the manufacturing and supply of custom molecules for research purposes.
OPTOI SRL is an Italian SME born in 1995 as a spin-off company from the FBK research institute (Trento). Its core business focuses on microelectronic packaging, especially on optoelectronic sensors. In over twenty years of activity, Optoi has become a supplier of reference for the industrial and special vehicle sectors, while in recent years it is also conducting important projects in the aerospace and biomedical fields with the development of innovative photonic devices for the detection of circulating biomarkers.
NanoGetic SL is a Spanish biotech company placed in the Health’s Technology Park (Granada). NanoGetic operates in the field of nano-biotechnology specializations that make it unique in the Spanish national scene and one of the few worldwide offering the design and production of innovative and customizable nanosystems. The company provides an ad-hoc multifunctionalization of nanoparticles. It has a highly qualified and internationally recognized team, state-of-the-art laboratory capabilities, standardized protocols and know-how to develop and validate nanoparticles in biotechnological applications.
Comprehensive center for research and treatment of pediatric cancer. The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology is the largest, nationally centralized pediatric cancer center in Europe. Their mission is “to provide a cure and optimal quality of life for every child with cancer.” The Center currently houses more than 30 research groups and fosters close ties between research and patient care. In line with our mission, the Princess Máxima Center strongly encourages projects that translate preclinical studies into clinical applications.
The research group of the Princess Máxima Center participating in diaRNAgnosis involves people from the group of Prof. Leendert Looijenga (link).
The University of Trento (UNITN) is an University in the Autonomous Province of Trento (PAT), Italy, that is characterized by a high level of public investment in innovation. UNITN provides an ideal environment for study and research and ranked first among Italian State Universities in the The Research Quality Assessment released by ANVUR. CIBIO, the involved Department in this project, is currently home to 39 independent research groups, focusing in Cancer Biology and Genomics, Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Synthetic Biology, Neurobiology and Development.
The research group of the University of Trento participating in diaRNAgnosis involves people from the Laboratory of RNA Biology and Biotechnology lead by Prof. Michela A. Denti (link).
The University of Catania (UNICT) is a University located in Catania (Italy). It is the oldest of the Italian South-Centre universities (founded in 1434). UNICT manifests some excellences in terms of didactics and research thanks to particular synergies and specific collaborations with several research institutes operating in its territory. UNICT is the recipient of research funding at international and national level and it has a long-term involvement in different research programs, both as a coordinator and/or a partner.
The University of Catania participates in diaRNAgnosis involving the research groups of Prof. Cinzia Di Pietro and Prof. Marco Ragusa. (link).
The University of Granada (UGR) is an internationally renowned institution, committed to being at the forefront of developing technologies, and a centre of excellence for academic research. Among the merits of the UGR, it has been recognized as the first European University in number of foreign students, the first Andalusian University (third in Spain) in doctoral courses with the distinction of quality granted by the Ministry of Education and Science, and the first Andalusian University (sixth in Spain) in scientific production.
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This project has received funding from H2020-EU.1.3.3. under grant agreement No 101007934.
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