PathChooser Consortium Meeting April 2015

Delivering therapeutic cargos to target sites for medical applications is hampered by multiple levels of barriers. For successful delivery, the therapeutic cargo has to cross, for example, a blood vessel, placenta or mucus layer in the lungs depending on the target, deeply penetrate the tissue by transcytosis, efficiently internalize into target cells by endocytosis and escape from the endo-lysosomal compartments to the cytosol if the therapeutic cargo’s action is in the cytosol. Overcoming these barriers could result in significant advance in the therapeutics by reducing drug dose, toxicity and improving pharmacokinetics of therapeutic cargo. Recently, nanotechnology has emerged as a potential tool for delivering the therapeutic cargos. Despite the advances in nanotechnology, overcoming the biological barriers for in vivo delivery turned out to be a difficult task. New studies suggest that interaction of nanomaterials and biomolecules plays an important role during in vivo barrier crossing and transport. However, the interactions of bio-nano interfaces and their mechanistic details are poorly understood. The PathChooser Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) project aim to advance the nano-medicine field by;

  1. Understanding the mechanistic details of bio-nano interface that assist or prevent barrier crossing, transcytosis, endocytosis and cytosolic delivery.
  2. Applying the knowledge from those mechanistic details to develop novel drug carriers.

PathChooser Marie Curie ITN partners across the European Union gathered for 2nd consortium meeting on 29th and 30th of April 2015 in the Centre for BioNano Interactions, University College Dublin. The meeting attendees were the fellows in this PathChooser network and the principle investigators who train the research career of their chosen fellows. I recently joined as a fellow in this network and had the opportunity to participate in this consortium meeting. On the first day, the fellows were given training in a workshop focused on the industrial opportunities in biological sciences. On the second day, all fellows presented their project update and discussed individual training, outreach and dissemination activities. Also, we conducted our own project management meeting to discuss the future project directions and activities in this network.

DSC_1703On 29th April Dr Jo Oliver and Dr Colin Wilde (AvantiCell Science Ltd) delivered an extensive workshop presentation and training about industrial opportunities in medical and biological science. The training event involved team building activities, presentations on patent generation strategy, fundraising for the research, building a life science business and various other lectures focusing on business opportunities in biological industry. During this session, we were given a chance to come up with our own hypothetical commercial proposition to present and convince the audience to invest in. Through this training event we were able to learn the essence of commercial aspects in medical science. The team building activities and individual training exercise focusing on industrial and commercial perspectives made this workshop very interesting and special for me, coming from an engineering background.

DSC_1695On 30th April each of the fellows presented project progress and updates such as acquired training skills, outreach and dissemination activities. All the fellows were widely trained in their respective projects such as imaging techniques, synthesis of nanoparticles and analyzing the mechanistic details of their uptake behavior etc. Apart from this, fellows were trained in various soft skills such as scientific writing courses, providing lectures to master students, participating in journal clubs and other transferable skills. There are also potential scientific outcomes in terms of publications. Some of the fellows contributed to the Sep 2014 volume 6, special issue of The European Journal of Nanomedicine. Additionally, one of our fellows, Marilena (University of Manchester), has contributed to a research article in ACS Nano, 2015, 9 (2). This update on project training from all partner groups allowed all fellows to find potential opportunities for future collaborations between the partner institutes. Fellows were thinking to tailor their future training and collaborations according to their own needs and career perspectives. During the fellows’ project management meeting, we decided to increase the interaction between the fellows by frequent discussion about the project, communicating outreach activities, and offer collaboration or suggestions when it is required.

DSC_1700The meeting provided the ground for us to interact and share expertise and knowledge with ITN partner research groups. This meeting also helped us to review and narrow down our path towards the main goal of each fellow’s project. Additionally, this meeting provided opportunity for me to learn how such a big consortium meeting could be useful to take over own project. Overall this meeting was a big success and very useful in terms of scientific feed-back, training and outcome.

Prasath Paramasivan
Pathchooser Fellow
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Posted in Fellows Updates