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Osteosarcoma is a rare disease—it accounts for less than 0.2 per cent of all cancers diagnosed—that mainly affects children and young adolescents: it accounts for 2 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in children aged 0 to 14 years and 3 per cent of those diagnosed in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years. Improving the survival of patients with osteosarcoma is one of the challenges faced by the medical and scientific community, as the survival rate of patients with metastatic tumours is 30 per cent, writes BarcelonaTech -UPC – in a press release.

No side effects and bone regeneration

Standard therapy for treating osteosarcoma consists of removing the entire tumour with negative margins, that is resecting bone areas larger than the tumour itself, to make sure that no cancer cells remain at the edge of the removed tissue. Now, the professor and researcher Cristina Canal, head of the PlasmaMedLab of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a professor at the Barcelona East School of Engineering (EEBE) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), has been awarded one of the European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept (PoC) grants to support the development of a novel therapy for bone cancer that avoids the side effects of conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy, and also aids bone regeneration when the tumour has been surgically resected.

Combination of biomaterials and hydrogels

The TRANSFORMER project (which stands for “Transforming bone cancer therapy with composite biomaterials encapsulating plasma-generated RONS”) will develop a product that combines for the first time biomaterials for bone regeneration with an innovative treatment based on plasma gas-treated hydrogels, which induce cancer cell death.

“We want our technology to get to market so that one day this therapy can benefit patients”, says Canal. She adds that the grant will support “developing this novel technology by preparing it for clinical development and also exploring product viability and designing a business plan to attract investors”.

PoC funding aims to facilitate exploring the innovation and commercial potential of ERC funded research. These 150,000-euro grants are part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

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