Universidade de Coimbra Divisao de Apoio e Promoçao da Investigaçao
Brief description of the entity
The University of Coimbra was founded in 1290 and constitutes a reference in higher education and scientific research in Portugal, with excellent academic reputation recognized worldwide. It includes 8 Faculties and 40 research centres, providing teaching and conducting research in almost all study fields – Exact Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, Architecture, Medicine, Social Sciences, Humanities and Sports, as well as several structures devoted to promote science and technology, culture and sports. The University of Coimbra has a strong internationalisation as the result of the constant arrival of students, professors and researchers of different cultural backgrounds from all around the world. Aware of the complexity and challenges of multilateral co-operation, the University actively promotes scientific/pedagogic networking by supporting the foundation of important European networks, such as Coimbra Group (38 partner universities) and the Utrecht Network (31 partner universities), in both of which UC plays an important role. Knowing the importance of such links, UC also became a founding member of the University Transnational Network [Pólo Transfronteiriço] (13 partner universities) and the Tordesillas Group (38 partner universities). UC is also member of CUM [Communauté des Universités du Mediterrané] (160 partner universities), of the SYLFF Network (88 partner universities) and of ERA-More – European Network of Mobility Centres (190 centres in 32 countries).
Activities and services offered
The research group biomaterials and stem cell-based therapeutics (BSCBT) was created in January 2008 at CNC. The research group aims at generating fundamental and translational knowledge in the intersection of biomaterials with stem cells. The research group has two main avenues of research: 1- Disease modeling and drug screening program: in vitro cell/tissue models from human stem cells. Stem cells, in particular induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), may be an excellent source of cells for disease modeling and drug discovery programs related to cardiovascular diseases. In the last 6 years the BSCBT group has developed several tissue models from stem cells that may be an important platform for drug discovery programs related to cardiovascular diseases. A particular interest of the group is to develop biomaterials and bioengineering platforms for the efficient maturation/specification of stem cells and their progenies. The research group uses many tools to accomplish this goal, including the design of new biomaterials with relevant biological information, molecular and cell biology, microfluidic systems, high content analysis, and animal experimentation. 2- Nanomedicine platforms to modulate the activity of stem cells and their progenies. The development of a wide spectrum of nanotechnologies (referred as Nanomedicine by National Institutes of Health for applications in the biomedical area) during the last years are very promising for the study of stem cell biology and to control exogenous and endogenous stem cells for regenerative medicine. The BSCBT group is particularly interested to use these tools to induce in vivo stem cell differentiation and to mobilize stem cells from their niches to treat cardiovascular diseases. For this purpose, the group is developing nanomaterials that release efficiently biomolecules (small molecules, proteins or non-coding RNAs) to manipulate stem cells or their progenies.
The differentiating value
Our group has more than 10 years of expertise in the development of nanoformulations, functionalization of nanocarriers and conjugation with biomolecules (in the last years the group has developed a significant portfolio of nanomaterials for the release of non-coding RNAs and proteins). We are a multidisciplinary team with expertise in biomaterials, molecular and cell biology, microfluidic systems, high content analysis and animal experimentation. By applying bioengineering tools we will be able to generate a carrier capable of interacting with the blood brain barrier and accumulate more in the brain for enhanced therapeutic effect.
Your role in neuroATLANTIC project
For NeuroAtlantic project we will develop nanocarriers for brain delivery, in particular, for the treatment of stroke. We will provide novel nanoformulations to be tested in vivo by our partners. We will also provide in vitro BBB models to study the transport of new therapeutics to the brain.
The results you expect to achieve
We expect to generate a nanotechnology platform to increase the accumulation of nanocarriers in the brain and increase their therapeutic effect in the context of ischemic stroke.
Your thoughts about the importance and the opportunity this project represents and your main goal by participating in it
This project provides a unique opportunity to collaborate with renowned experts in complementary fields. The NeuroAtlantic project relates with one of our research lines, which is focused in the development of platforms for brain delivery and therapies for neurological disorders. Additionally, we are very driven towards clinical translation that will be favored in this collaborative project with academic partners and biotech companies.
Your thoughts about the impact that this project will have on the ecosystem
Management of neurological diseases is becoming a key priority in Europe as an increasingly aging population presents significant challenges. We believe that this project will generate not only new therapeutics but also diagnostic tools to address this problem. In addition, the collaboration between academic partners and biotech companies will be extremely important to strengthen research ties between different institutions and countries and to leverage translational research.
Dr. Lino Ferreira