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Trinity-led nano-medicine project wins major European award

The winning project called NAMDIATREAM involves the development of nanotechnology-based tools to enable early detection and imaging of molecular biomarkers of the most common cancer types and of cancer which has spread. It also helps to identify cells which indicate early-stage disease onset.

The project is built on the innovative technology concepts of super-sensitive ‘lab-on-a-bead’, ‘lab-on-a-chip’ and ‘lab-on-a-wire’ nano-devices.

Professor of Molecular and Translational Medicine,Yuri Volkov of the School of Medicine and AMBER Investigator, and Dr Adriele Prina-Mello, Department of Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine and AMBER Investigator, led the project.

The project has developed technologies which have been integrated into diagnostic systems for the detection of cancer cells and molecular markers. Their work with the interdisciplinary project consortium has demonstrated that the performance of these new technologies is comparable or superior to the quality obtained with gold standard protocols of diagnostic practice.

Commenting on the win and the significance of the project, Prof Volkov said: “We are delighted that our project has been selected as the best by EuroNanoForum 2015 amongst over 1,000 projects launched in this field. Cancer is a disease of uncontrolled growth of human cells. While scientists are able today to manipulate extremely small nano-objects, amazingly, we sometimes still can’t see even much larger structures, such as cancer cells, early enough to find their location in the human body, target and kill them, thereby saving patients’ lives.

“In the NAMDIATREAM project, we created highly sensitive probes using a number of strategic nanoparticles which enable us to detect not only whole tumours but also single cancer cells which have spread and even cancer molecules in the blood. Integrating these multi-functional probes into new diagnostic devices will give us a much higher quality kind of diagnostic tool which can be used for both traditional biopsies and to analyse liquid samples such as blood.”

Dr Sergio Fernandez-Ceballos, National Delegate for H2020 in the area of Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials at Enterprise Ireland said: “NAMDIATREAM has been the biggest win to Ireland in Framework Programme 7 under the Nanotechnology and Advanced materials programme. This project is an example of academics and industry coming together to develop early cancer detection tools which will be commercialised and exploited by members of the consortium.”

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