The MARVEL project – by full name “Evolving reversible immunocapture by membrane sensing peptides: towards scalable extracellular vesicles isolation” – brings innovation to healthcare and especially to its diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
The research is focused on extracellular vesicles (EV). Extracellular vesicles are membranous particles that are released from a cell. They are ubiquitously present in all biological fluids and perform kind of intercellular communication. Extracellular vesicles act as signalling vehicles in both physiological and pathological mechanisms, which makes them extensively useful for innovative methods in medicine.
MARVEL wants to design robust, versatile, scalable and economically viable ways to upgrade the technology for reversible EV isolation, developed within the ongoing Pathfinder (FET-Open) project INDEX, merge it with peptide science and bring it to the market and broader spectre of professional users. Similarly to the INDEX project, also MARVEL wants to innovate diagnostic methods, e.g. to detect bladder cancer. Its second interest is therapeutic treatment of cardiovascular diseases, which are among leading causes of deaths in the world nowadays.
The main outcomes of the MARVEL project will be lab-scale and point of need tools for urinary EV enrichment and analysis with unprecedented performances, enabling the liquid biopsy of bladder cancer; and the first integrated TFF-affinity isolation system (i.e. a system based on tangential flow filtration, which enables EV separation) for therapeutic EV on a manufacturing scale.
Dr. Marina Cretich, the project coordinator, further explains:
MARVEL expects to produce direct impacts on the field of EV by empowering the sustainability of their use in both regenerative medicine and in many diagnostics workflows. Such empowerment is expected to increment readiness level of EV technologies and endow them with clinical grade maturity. This will ultimately impact society by providing better clinical outcomes at lower costs through the precision medicine paradigm with implications on life quality and sustainability of public healthcare.
The participants of the project are from Italy (Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche, Università Vita-Salute san Raffaele), Switzerland (Fondazione Cardiocentro Ticino), Spain (Paperdrop Diagnostics), Estonia (HansaBioMed Life Sciences) and the Czech Republic (Amires). The project will run for 24 months.
MARVEL was selected among 28 proposals submitted for the 2019 the EIC Transition to Innovation Activities call (FETPROACT-EIC-06-2019). The call sought for promising technologies as they were at the end of a Pathfinder project (i.e., TRL 2/3) to a level of development, validation and demonstration where they became a credible basis for entrepreneurship, business creation, investment and, ultimately, economic and/or societal returns. The call invited applications to further develop results from previous or on-going Pathfinder (FET-Open or FET-Proactive) projects in the 5 areas: micro and nano-technologies, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, technologies for the life sciences, health and treatment (where MARVEL had applied), low-carbon energy and climate change technologies and interaction technologies.
▪ See also the article about the ongoing FET-Proactive calls for proposals.
FET-Open and FET Proactive are now part of the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot (specifically the Pathfinder), the new home for deep-tech research and innovation in Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation.