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Posted: May 12, 2014
European Research Council awarded its 4000th grant to a nanomedicine project
(Nanowerk News) The research of Spanish grantee Manuel Arruebo may one day put an end to the use of conventional analgesics for patients with chronic pain. Dr Arruebo who is today awarded the 4000th ERC grant, is looking at a new drug delivery system to improve the daily lives of patients. A new device would inject nano-capsules capable of releasing drugs on-demand and remotely, removing, in many cases, the need for surgery. He will conduct his research at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) with the support of an ERC Consolidator Grant worth over €1.5 million - a grant awarded to scientists who wish to strengthen their own research team and their professional career in Europe.
On the occasion of the announcement, Dr Arruebo stated: “I am proud to be the 4000th ERC grantee, especially at times when competition for research funding is intensifying and is making it harder for scientists to pursue their careers in Europe. With my ERC Consolidator Grant, I hope to develop a new technology that will administer drugs in a minimally invasive manner - just with an injection and in many cases without surgery - and only when patients actually need it”.
Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide and the current treatments are often inadequate; they do not allow precise control of the drug’s release. They don’t adapt either to the patients’ changing day-to-day physical activities or to the level of pain relief they require. In addition, the conventional systems do not allow the patients or their doctors to switch them off or administer therapeutic doses only for the length of time which is necessary.
The NANOHEDONISM project is an attempt to overcome these limitations by developing a pioneering method of drug delivery – one which is reversible, and which releases drugs only where and when they are needed. The drugs take the form of injectable and biodegradable nano-capsules released in response to a specific biochemical stimulus - such as heat, light or electrical or magnetic fields. The new technology will offer a better care for the many patients who need an on-demand release of their prescribed medication: sufferers from diabetes, hormonal disorders, sciatica, or patients receiving localised chemotherapy treatments for example.
“The benefits of this implantable system are extraordinary; patients will be able to better control and relieve their pain and this will considerably improve their quality of life. In the course of the project, we aim to also test the biocompatibility and efficacy of these nano-capsules in vitro and in vivo” concluded Dr Arruebo.