News Release

TraffikGene gets €2.5M from the European Innovation Council to bring its technology to market

The project led by Prof. Javier Montenegro, principal investigator at CIQUS, receives the support of the European Innovation Council to advance in the preclinical validation of a novel therapeutic nucleic acid delivery system.

Grant and Award Announcement

Center for Research in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Materials (CiQUS)


image: TraffikGene | CiQUS USC view more 

Credit: CiQUS - USC

The European Innovation Council (EIC) announced on February 8 the beneficiaries of EIC Transition projects, in the context of the challenge “New RNA-based therapies and diagnostics”, which seeks to advance the transfer of innovative technologies for future commercialization.  From the 181 submitted proposals, only 34 were funded, including TraffikGene, which will now receive €2.5M over a period of 3 years.

The project led by Prof. Javier Montenegro focuses on the development of a peptide-based technology to create vehicles that facilitate the efficient delivery of nucleic acids and ribonucleoproteins with potential therapeutic application. "Our vehicles are designed to bring these nucleic acids to their site of action in an efficient, non-toxic and selective manner. In this way we overcome one of the main challenges in the development of new nucleic acid-based drugs," explains Prof. Montenegro, principal investigator at the Singular Center for Research in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Materials (CIQUS) of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC).

TraffikGene provides a versatile technology, which can adapt to all types of nucleic acids, such as messenger RNA (mRNA), interfering RNA (RNAi) or even enable gene editing tasks with ribonucleoproteins through the CRISPR/Cas system. The vehicles for RNA drugs developed by TraffikGene are biodegradable and therefore have very little toxicity. Synthetic simplicity, ease of formulation with RNA and a high delivery efficiency make this technology very attractive for therapeutic application. The new EIC support will allow the team behind this project to focus on the development of messenger RNA (mRNA) therapies for applications in cancer immunotherapy and explore other possible therapeutic alternatives with different nucleic acids. In addition, the TraffikGene team will seek collaboration with academia and industry to accelerate the validation and transfer of the technology: "We want to develop our own pipeline of RNA therapeutic products and also use our technology to support academic groups or industrial partners with potential therapeutic RNAs in need of an efficient and selective vehicle," explains Dr. Mark Mayhew, strategic advisor to TraffikGene.

"We hope that, within three years the technology, will be ready to make the leap to clinical phases and thus be able to reach patients," says Dr. Marisa Juanes, in charge of the synthetic development of RNA carriers  and their biological evaluation. The project team is completed by Dr. Irene Lostalé, responsible for methodological design and biological protocols, and Dr. Alberto Fuertes, responsible for project operations. TraffikGene, which was awarded the Best Business Idea by the Regional Biotech Cluster of Galicia (BIOGA), has also been recognized by the Proof  of Concept grant by Spanish AEI, from the European Research Council (ERC-Proof of Concept) and by the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN) through the Ignicia project.

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