12.04.2022

Project with the participation of AGH UST scientists receives M-ERA.NET 3 grant


AGH UST Professor Urszula Stachewicz, photo by the AGH UST

An AGH UST research team led by Dr hab. Urszula Stachewicz, AGH UST Professor, together with partners from Turkey and Denmark, will implement a project in the field of new strategies for advanced material technologies for medical purposes – PIECRISCI. The scientists, as a consortium, will develop new materials with piezoelectric properties to support the treatment of spinal cord injuries. The research will be funded by the M-ERA.NET, which has just announced the results of the international competition for projects in materials science and engineering.

PIECRISCI aims to propose a new bioengineering approach to treating spinal cord injuries, which promotes neuron and axon regeneration through piezoelectric stimulation.

A spinal cord injury is a serious and crippling condition. Patients often experience severe problems, such as partial or full paralysis, spasticity, pain, weakness, or breathing difficulties.

The ongoing research investigating spinal cord injuries include pharmacological therapies, cell transplants, gene therapies, and tissue engineering. The combination of several treatment strategies may facilitate partial recovery, which might result in the improvement of the patients’ quality of life. The PIECRISCI project proposes a novel functionalised material-based treatment for spinal cord injuries that is to stimulate neuroregeneration by incorporating exosome/CRISPR/Cas9 complexes into piezoelectric biomaterials. These materials generate local electrical fields as a response to mechanical stress, which stimulates neuroregenerative processes. The system will be tested in vitro, and on in vivo rat SCI models.

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The full name of the project is Investigation of regenerative effects of CRISPR / Cas9 functionalized piezoelectric nerve conduits on in vitro and in vivo spinal cord injury models.

The consortium, apart from the AGH UST, is made of partners from Turkey: Ege University (leader), Ege University School of Medicine, and MARSTEM Cell Technologies Inc.; and Denmark: Aarhus University.

The amount of money for the project is PLN 1,900,000 (of which PLN 855,220 goes to the AGH UST). The organisations funding the project are: The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK, Turkey), Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD, Denmark), and National Research Centre (NCN, Poland).

The project will last 3 years.

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The thematic scope of the M-ERA.NET 3 competition encompasses six research areas in the field of materials science and engineering: modelling for materials engineering and processing; innovative surfaces, coatings, and interfaces; high performance composites; functional materials; new strategies for advanced material-based technologies for health applications; and materials for additive manufacturing.

The consortium of the third edition of M-ERA.NET programme was made of 50 agencies from 36 countries. Poland was represented by the National Research Centre and the Polish National Centre for Research and Development.

The M-ERA.NET 3 Call 2021 competition has received 493 applications. 70 projects received funding for the total sum of 69.9 million euros. Polish researchers are participants in six of them.

Information about the competition results