European consortium to create bio-electronic implants to treat Multiple Sclerosis
Barcelona, 1st June, 2017 – Researchers from eleven institutions and companies in seven different European countries have started work within the Optogenerapy consortium to develop optogenetic cellular therapy implants by means of printed electronics with biocompatible materials that will enable the administration of therapeutic protein doses for patients with multiple sclerosis, an illness that affects 2.3 million people all over the world and 700,000 in Europe.
The implant, based on technology developed at the Federal Polytechnic School f Switzerland in Basel, liberates the active ingredient of the medicine by means of an infrared LED light, which activates the production of therapeutic proteins by genetically modified cells present in the device.
According to Doctor Esther Hurtós, the coordinator of the consortium, “Optogenerapy will enable a more efficient and less invasive therapy for multiple sclerosis patients, who will not require the regular injections they are now subject to. It will also improve their quality of life” thanks to “more efficient therapy” and “better adherence to the medication” (the efficiency of the treatment), which is currently between 50 and 75% for cases of chronic illness.
Hurtós pointed out that “Optogenerapy’s optogenetic therapy will reduce the direct and indirect costs of sclerosis treatment in the medium term”, and will avoid “the expenses of non-adherence to the treatment”, which amounted to 255.4 million Euros in Europe as a whole in 2015.
The first phase of development of the consortium, led by the Eurecat technology centre, will last for 36 months and has eleven partners from seven different countries in Europe, including research centres, universities and specialized companies. More specifically, the participants in the project are the Federal Polytechnic School of Switzerland, the Technological University of Lodz in Poland, the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the National Health and Medical Research Institute of France, the Irish company Boston Scientific Limited, which wishes to take the product to the market, Genexplain from Germany, and the Spanish entities Neos Surgery, Ultrasion, Twoptics Systems Design and UNE.
Optogenerapy’s budget is 6.2 million Euros, of which 4.8 million are financed by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 programme.