Where Ideas grow

i3S team wins innovation award

The NanoPyl project, developed at i3S in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, was one of the grand winners of BIP Proof, a UP program that finances proof of concept with ten thousand euros. The same project also won first place in the BIP (Business Ignition Program) to the tune of 4 thousand euros. BIP’s second place prize, worth 2,500 euros, was also awarded to an i3S team, author of the project “Biomaterials for oral / maxillofacial reconstruction”.

“NanoPyl aims to respond to the urgent need for alternative treatments to antibiotics for gastric infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium infects about 50% of the world population, and its prevalence in Portugal is very high”, explains Paula Parreira, one of the promoters of the project. According to the Portuguese Society of Gastroenterology, it is estimated that H. pylori affects about 70% of the adult population, and in most cases, the infection is acquired in childhood. In addition, about 90% of all gastric cancer cases that are diagnosed are directly related to this infection. The existing treatments are based on antibiotics, which in addition to adverse side effects, have a percentage of resistance between 20 to 40%, leaving 1.6 billion people without alternative treatment worldwide.

As NanoPyl’s strategy is not based on antibiotics and has a very affordable price, NanoPyl “intends to be the answer for these patients that show resistance to antibiotics, and for the eradication of Helicobacter pylori”, guarantee the team members responsible for the translation of the NanoPyl, Cristina Martins, Paula Parreira, and Rute Chitas, from the “BioEngineered Surfaces” group.

“We have already done the entire optimization process of the formulation, in vitro and in vivo tests in a mouse model. At the moment, the NanoPyl team needed this economic boost to continue and cross the chasm between academia and the market”, adds Paula Parreira. The BIP Proof and BIP support, specifies the researcher, “will be used essentially to produce the NanoPyl in the conditions of quality and safety required for the product to be able to initiate pilot clinical studies in humans”.

Second place in BIP (Business Ignition Program) was won by the project “Biomaterials for oral / maxillofacial reconstruction”, by the team of researchers Cristina Ribeiro, Rodrigo Val d'Oleiros Silva, Joana Caldeira, and Cláudia Machado, of the group “Microenvironments for New Therapies”. This project presents an innovative, minimally invasive approach, which allows the simultaneous regeneration of two different tissues (bone and periodontal tissue) in the pathological and reconstructive clinical context.

In the last decade, the incorporation of decellularized extracellular matrices (dECMs) has been the subject of intense research due to the unique combination of biological factors with regenerative and immunomodulatory potential. “Taking into account the local and systemic complications of periodontal diseases, which affect 90% of the world population, and due to the lack of a valid and lasting solution, we have developed a patented solution through the incorporation of dECMs isolated from human fetal membranes (hFMs). This system unites the hFMs with a polymeric-ceramic hybrid injectable system, resulting in a minimally invasive approach and easy clinical execution, in a new therapeutic concept that allows the functional recovery of bone and periodontal / gingival tissue simultaneously”, explains Rodrigo Val d'Oleiros Silva.

This solution, continues the researcher, “contemplates the treatment of periodontitis, the prevention of tooth loss, and also as osteointegrative and peri-implant support for the placement of dental implants”. Thus, “through an innovative therapeutic design, we provide a personalized and biomimetic reconstruction of the tissues, bringing together different bioengineered components with great regenerative capacities, in a fast and more economical approach. Our solution offers a more intelligent medicine in the treatment of periodontal diseases and in the reconstruction of anatomically related tissues”, stresses Rodrigo Val d’Oleiros Silva. With the support of BIP 2020, the team intends to develop the project at a technical and scientific level and attract potential investors, customers and other interested parties.