A team of medical researchers from Israel will develop nanoparticles capable of tracking the effects of cell injection therapies for numerous diseases, including cancer and autism.
The nTRACK project will launch on 16 October and is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme.
A winning proposal came from a group led by Professor Rachela Popovtzer from Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.
“The goal is effectively to develop a clinical method that will allow us to track cells and will be suited to any technology – one that could be spotted by devices like an MRI or CT,” Popovtzer said.
Popovtzer has spent the last decade developing nanoparticles for medical applications.
The aim of the project is to develop a tracking nanoparticle which will be ready for clinical testing in human subjects within four years.
The nanoparticle will track injected cells to observe where they go in the body and what effects they produce, enabling researchers to determine how successful the form of therapy is.
Currently, experimental cell therapy is used for a wide variety of diseases, including cancer, autism, and eye disease, Popovtzer added.
“The main problem is that so far these therapies don’t affect all patients the same way and the success rate varies. The variation is very large, and it’s not clear why this works on some patients and not on others.
“People wait for months to see how the body reacts. For cancer therapies, it’s a minimum of two months; for stem-cell therapies in other disease, you wait even longer to see if the results are positive.”