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PSB to co-ordinate Industrial-Academic Partnership programme (Transvac) in international biomedical portfolio management

14.11.2006
Fondazione Parco Biomedico San Raffaele is to co-ordinate the European commission Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnership project ‘Transvac’ in International Biomedical Portfolio management.

Through the secondment of Business Development Managers in the participating centres Transvac aims to find an effective way to manage biomedical research alliances across the European continent and generate an active portfolio of projects with high potential for creating knowledge and value which will be actively managed. Specifically it aims to develop a pipeline of portfolio projects that are actively managed and supported between the centres classified as:

-Fundamental research or clinical projects based on existing R&D synergies and projects
or
- Applied industrial research projects based on existing R&D synergies and projects to significantly advance the development of a potential revenue generating product

Effort will be focused on regenerative therapies and research in musculo-skeletal, cardiological and neurological disorders, utilising the expertise and insights of the participants in cell therapies, biopharmaceuticals and biomaterial/polymer and nano-based biopharmaceutical delivery to generate an early stage to pre-clinical/clinical phase I pipeline of projects.

Significant effort will be dedicated to the inclusion of SME’s in the applied industrial projects, as partners, customers for the intellectual property with the long-term aim of out-licensing the inventions to large industry.

Partners in the project are:

Fondazione Parco Biomedico San Raffaele (PSB)

Located approximately 15 km south of Rome in a natural reserve, the science park was created by the Banca di Roma, the Chamber of Commerce of Rome, and the Fondazione San Raffaele Monte Tabor in response to the recognised need to have a biomedical research centre in the Lazio region. Opened in 2002, the park is now home to 3 companies and 9 research groups from Universities and centres working in: Stem cells, Oncology, leukaemia and Immunology; Molecular cardiology; Skeletal regeneration; Cell therapy and tissue engineering; Muscular dystrophies; Biomedical quality control; Neurological Disorders and Diabetes. The infrastructure permits the development of concept to preclinical development based on the state-of-the-art facilities including a animal facility encompassing conventional and SPF small animals and a large animal surgery unit.

The Cambridge University Centre for Brain Repair (http://www.brc.cam.ac.uk) contains 14 scientific groups, with research interests in stem cell biology, neurodegeneration, neuroprotection, demyelination, remyelination, axon regeneration, plasticity, neural transplantation, clinical neurology and neurosurgery. In axon regeneration there are two approaches. 1) Axon regeneration after CNS injury is blocked by the formation of a glial scar. The major inhibitory molecules in the glial scar are chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans. The group is studying methods of removing proteoglycans, preventing their synthesis and of modifying the scarring process to prevent the appearance of inhibitory molecules. 2) Adult CNS axons have a very poor intrinsic ability to regenerate their axons after damage which correlates with poor ability to regenerate the growth cone on the end of a cut axon. Growth cone regeneration requires new protein synthesis inside the axon at the site of axotomy. CNS axons lack protein synthesis machinery. Expertise in glial cell biology, axon growth assays, models of brain and spinal cord damage, behavioural assays of spinal cord and brain function, extra cellular matrix biochemistry, axonal transport and protein synthesis, time lapse studies of axon growth. Facilities for animal behavioural studies, lesion models, imaging, neurodegenerative conditions, neural transplantation, stem cell biology, clinical studies in Parkinsons disease, Huntingtons disease, multiple sclerosis, head injury, stroke, rehabilitation.

Dando & Colucci is a management company, specialising in facilitating the development, financing and implementation of life science based innovation ‘clusters’ or science parks by providing tailored insight and management, offering tactical and strategic management to permit correct financial management, leveraging of resources, positioning of clusters/parks on the whole value chain associated with research and development. This stretches from fundamental research through to partnering at the time of real value creation. As such their expertise includes: Internal due diligence to ISO 9001 quality standards; Consortium development and partner recruitment; Fund raising and identification of potential financial backers; Elaboration and negotiation of detailed scientific and development plan; Executive and project management; Consortium operational development and organisation; Resource and technical evaluation; Business development and market analysis; Financial co-ordination and reporting, and Intellectual property management co-ordination.

Centres working with Dando and Colucci LLC managers as part of the project are:

The Institute of Chemical Science and Engineering, EPFL Lausanne, (http://lmrp.epfl.ch/) works in regenerative medicine and pharmacobiology, specialises in chemical engineering polymeric biomaterials, in tissue engineering using stem cells as building blocks. DNA oligos, recombinant proteins and synthetic peptides are designed and expressed to encompass many functions: the ability to be chemically cross linked with an exogenous agent, the ability to be degraded by cell-derived proteases, the ability to support and promote cell migration, and the ability to bind to and slowly release growth factors. These materials are being developed as biosynthetic matrices and nano-vessicles for tissue regeneration. By virtue of the precise design that is possible, one may independently control the rates of cell infiltration, degradation, remodelling, etc., by making changes in the amino acid sequence of the protein polymer. In addition most degradable biomaterials degrade by non-enzymatic hydrolysis. This is in stark contrast to all natural biological degradation, which is precisely regulated by cell-derived proteases. Research facilities include cell biology, molecular biology and peptide and protein chemistry, organic and polymer synthesis, small animal surgery and pharmacology and a fully equipped laboratory for synthesis and characterization of organic polymeric biomaterials, including analytical and preparative HPLC, differential scanning calorimetry, FT-IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, rotary evaporators, UV/Vis spectroscopy, automated peptide synthesizer, photo documentation station, preparative FPLC, RT-PCR.

ECRIN (http://www.ecrin.org) is based on the interconnection of national networks of clinical research centres (CRCs) and clinical trial units (CTUs) the European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network (ECRIN) programme is designed to develop an infrastructure allowing for bottom-up harmonisation of support, training, and practice of clinical research. ECRIN aims at providing public or private (mainly biotechnology SME) sponsors with a support for translational research and multicentre clinical studies in Europe. The ECRIN consortium is based on national networks of CRC / CTUs together with the European Forum for Good Clinical Practice (EFGCP).

A major objective of ECRIN consists of stimulating and facilitating the creation of Centres and National Networks, especially in the new member states, for their subsequent connection to the European network. Connecting these national networks within a broad European network will contribute to the critical mass at the European level needed for the implement of European standards and training regarding clinical research. The European Consortium of clinical research infrastructures currently includes 8 networks of CRCs and CTUs, covering 6 European countries representing 260 million citizens (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Sweden), and constituting 112 different medical centres and hospitals conducting 1500 clinical studies.

Jonathan Dando | alfa
Further information:
http://www.scienceparkrome.org

Further reports about: Axon Biology CRC Development ECRIN Regeneration cell biology synthesis

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