A consortium of 16 European companies and institutions have initiated the project MultiFun, the objective of which is to develop new diagnostic tools for cancer and investigate more personalized, effective treatments with fewer side effects. The project, which will last four years and is supported by 9.8 million euros of funding from the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme, will involve the researcher Ramon Eritja (IRB Barcelona/CSIC).
MultiFun will use a strategy based on nanoparticles comprising a nucleus of iron oxide with magnetic properties. The application of alternate magnetic fields on these particles leads to an increase in temperature. The researchers will study whether the administration of these nanoparticles with localized heating will kill cancer cells, which are more sensitive to temperature increases than their healthy counterparts.
The project will also study the use of nanoparticles as nanotransporters of anticancer drugs for local administration to tumours. Eritja’s lab, which has devoted many years to the chemistry of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA molecules), will examine the combined use of these biological molecules with iron oxide nanoparticles, which inhibit the activity of oncogenic proteins. “We will focus our efforts on achieving efficacy in in vitro studies and activity assays in cell cultures. If these strategies work, we will be able to treat some kinds of cancers in a local and efficient manner and with fewer side effects”, explains Eritja.