EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 supports project “FOLSMART” of Hannes Stockinger and Anna Repic
In January 2016, a new Horizon 2020 project entitled “Folate-Target Nanodevices To Activated Macrophages For Rheumatoid Arthritis – FOLSMART” starts at the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology.
The FOLSMART project joins eight partners from four European countries (Austria, Germany, Portugal and France) and is coordinated by Assoc. Prof. Artur Cavaco-Paulo from the University of Minho, Braga, Portugal. FOLSMART is the follow-up of the EU 7th Framework Programme project NANOFOL that had developed folate-based nanobiodevices for integrated diagnosis/therapy targeting chronic inflammatory diseases.
The FOLSMART project proposes a novel and effective approach to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) using folate-based nanodevices (FBNs, see illustration). Within FOLSMART, FBNs of various formats (folate-hydrophobic peptide decorated liposomes or folate-protein conjugates) will bring well-established anti-rheumatic drugs, such as methotrexate, directly into the pathogenic cells within the arthritis-affected joints of RA patients, i.e. activated folate receptor-positive macrophages. By using a new formulation with polyethylene glycol (PEG), another special feature of these FBNs is that they are not only masked for the immune system, but biologically inert in general so that they can reach relatively specific their target cells. Based on preliminary data it is expected that the packaging of anti-inflammatory drugs within these nanodevices, which deliver them specifically to the target cells, reduce their toxicity dramatically and significantly improve the clinical outcome. FOLSMART will develop production of FBNs under Good Manufacturing Practice conditions. The FBNs will be further tested in pre-clinical tests in vitro using various human and animal cells and in vivo in several animal models. Finally, the best FBN format will proceed into the phase I clinical trials.
The FOLSMART project has been funded with nearly 5 million EUR, from which Hannes Stockinger and Anna Repic (both from the Molecular Immunology Unit of the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology; Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology) have been granted more than 400.000 EUR.
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