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Tuesday, 05 March 2019

The CONCORD project aims to improve the immunotherapy of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia with gold nanoparticles

Selected by the European Commission through the EuroNanoMed programme, this project aims to improve CAR T cell therapy using messenger RNA (mRNA). Its aim is to make the therapeutic effect more sustained thanks to gold nanoparticles that will control the release of mRNAs. The project is coordinated by the ICN2 and has the experience of Hospital Clínic de Barcelona - IDIBAPS, IRCCS - Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri" in Milan and Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv.

The CONCORD project aims to improve the immunotherapy of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia thanks to nanomedicine and has started with a meeting on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 March at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona - IDIBAPS. The objective of the project, selected through the EuroNanoMed III Programme of the European Commission, is to improve CAR T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T) cell therapy, which consists of modifying the patients' own T lymphocytes in order to make them more efficient in the fight against the disease.

The lymphocytes improved by this therapy contain new genetic information in the form of messenger RNA (mRNA). These are lymphocytes that present a new chimeric receptor on their surface that manages to direct them specifically against tumour cells. The problem with this strategy is that mRNAs degrade rapidly and their therapeutic effect lasts 24-48 hours when they should be able to be maintained for a few weeks in order to achieve a complete cure.

Thanks to the use of gold nanoparticles the mRNAs will be released in a controlled way into the T cells, thus achieving a more sustained therapeutic effect. Gold nanoparticles offer at the same time biocompatibility, the possibility of modifying their surface to transport different substances and optical properties that facilitate the tracing of their evolution within the body.

The project is coordinated from the ICN2, a BIST and CSIC centre, by Dr. Neus G. Bastús, Ramón y Cajal researcher of the ICN2 Group of Inorganic Nanoparticles led by ICREA Prof. Víctor F. Puntes, and counts with the participation of the teams from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona - IDIBAPS (Spain), the IRCCS - Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri" from Milà (Italy) and the Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv (Israel). CONCORD is part of the EuroNanoMed III programme (2016-2021) of the ERA-Net Cofund Action en Nanomedicina, which is part of the European Commission's Horizon 2020.