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TEC-SALUT Community: RIS3CAT projects for health innovation

RIS3 communities are groups between research institutions and companies, created at the request of the European Union to define and promote scientific projects in strategic sectors in the different European regions. In Catalonia, TEC-SALUT is one of these RIS3CAT communities. It encompasses several projects and has the participation of different CSIC centers. The goal is to create a collaborative space that responds to the challenges of the health system and health technologies.

TEC-SALUT is a community within the RIS3CAT project. Image: PixaBay.RIS3CAT is a call within the Research and Innovation Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia, as required by the European Commission, and funded by the Generalitat de Catalunya with the ESI funds (European Regional Development Fund).

NANONAFRES: efficient treatment for venous leg ulcers

The NANONAFRES research project aims for the creation of a medicine to the regeneration of the damaged skin caused by venous leg ulcers. Through a solution for topical application, the drug protects and accelerates the regeneration in the affected area, with nanoparticles that control the liberation of the drug in the abscess.

“The nanoparticles, called quatsoms, make possible the treatment for topical application”, as Nora Ventosa, ICMAB scientist, explains, and “it is the first time they are used for treating the ulcers”.

Almost 80% of venous ulcers in the legs are associated with pathologies of venous insufficiency. It is a medical condition that can take years to close and for which there is not an effective enough treatment. According to the data of the Asociación Española de Enfermería Vascular y Heridas (Spanish Association of Vascular Nursing and Wounds), ulcers of venous etiology are the most frequent, with about 200,000 new cases every year in Spain. Every year, there are between 3 and 5 people affected per 1000 persons.

Nanonafres is coordinated by the company Nanomol-Technologies, a spin-off of the CSIC. The Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona (ICMAB) is one of the participants in the project, together with the research centres Leitat, Consorci Sanitari de Terrasa, Consorci Sanitari del Maresme, EAP Osona Sud and EBA Vallcarca. The patent is undertaken jointly by the CSIC and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Cuba (CIGB) with a license agreement.

3DBONT: improving diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of breast cancer

The 3DBONT project is developing a prone-table prototype for performing biopsies by Tomosynthesis, which will incorporate state-of-the-art technologies, such as high-resolution X-ray image sensors or an X-ray tube in the range of the mammography energies (20-40 kV).

This combination aims to facilitate real-time image-guided breast biopsy sampling. The reduction of sampling errors would improve the success rate by having high-resolution images, with more precision and greater contrast. The time and dose of radiation needed for the process (up to 50 times lower than in conventional systems) would also be reduced.

This results in a higher quality of results for the medical team and an improvement in the quality of life of the patients, by reducing both the number of tests and their side effects, such as vasovagal syncopes (fainting) or lipotimias.

“The new team seeks to assist the medical team in breast biopsy processes in the diagnosis of breast cancer, reducing examination times and radiation doses to achieve an early and rapid detection of micro-calcifications (early sign of the development of a breast cancer)”, explains Ricardo Martínez, scientific engineer of the IMB-CNM-CSIC.

Breast cancer is a public health problem nowadays, as it represents 19% of cancer deaths among women. According to the Oncology Master Plan of Catalonia, one out of ten women will suffer from this disease throughout their lives.

The IMB-CNM (CSIC) contributes in this project to the development of the control electronics of the different blocks of the biopsy system. The control system has been implemented using a state-of-the-art FPGA device that incorporates an ARM9 microprocessor capable of providing the system with the necessary processing capacity and speed.

This project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2020, after completing the validation phase of the final prototype, which can only be converted into medical equipment once the industrialisation and regulatory validation phases have been successfully passed. 3DBONT has the participation of IFAE, Parc Taulí, Idneo Technologies S.L. and Baldomero Ventura S.L., that also act as project coordinators.

Other RIS3CAT projects: