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Drug Discovery and Delivery NEtwork for ONcology and Eye Therapeutics

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 3D NEONET (Drug Discovery and Delivery NEtwork for ONcology and Eye Therapeutics)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2022-06-30

The overall, currently fully achieved, aim of 3D-NEONET project was to improve treatment options for cancer and blindness, while enhancing EU capability and knowledge-sharing in drug discovery, drug development and drug delivery to address unmet medical needs in these 2 disease areas.

More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from vision impairments. The European Forum Against Blindness (EFAB) reported that eye disease significantly reduces a person’s quality of life and creates a multi-billion-euro burden on European economies. In the seven European countries studied (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Great Britain) the economic burden of blindness amounted to ~€7,000,000,000. In these countries, ~3.8 million Europeans suffer from glaucoma, ~2.8 million from wet age-related macular degeneration and ~1.8 million from diabetic retinopathy. Poor vision is associated with lower socio-economic status, higher unemployment, gender (more prevalent in women) and age. Ocular disease places a direct economic burden on European countries of ~€20 billion. Therefore, cost-effective interventions (e.g. screening and treatments) to overcome the individual and societal impact of vision loss are needed.

The global cancer observatory, GLOBOCAN, estimated 19.3 million new cases and 10 million cancer deaths in 2020. As cancer incidence and mortality grow, global cancer control is a priority. The WHO estimates cancer is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths, and incidence will grow to 29 million by 2040. Lung cancer is the principal cause of cancer death among males and breast cancer remains the main cause of cancer death among females. Other prominent causes of cancer death include colorectal (males/females) and prostate cancer among males. In Europe, cancer healthcare costs ~€57 billion and productivity losses due to morbidity and death are ~€10 & ~€47 billion annually, respectively. The majority of new therapies cost ~€5,000 per patient/month, and usually the cost-effectiveness ratios surpass commonly recognized thresholds – an unjustifiable trend
Transfer of knowledge/technology and enhancement of partners capabilities to improve current treatments for cancer and blindness, was achieved through advanced international co-operation between 10 academic and 12 non-academic participants in 7 different countries, along a period spanning 66 months. S

All the 22 participating beneficiary institutions in 3D-NEONET contributed towards the achievement of deliverables, by the exchange of 64 fellows and providing key pieces of expertise in computational drug discovery, drug screens, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, preclinical disease models, biomarkers, nanotechnology, biomaterials, tissue engineering, medical devices, clinical trial management and big data/machine learning, which addressed different aspects of 3D-NEONET grant objectives. In total, 208.9 months of secondments of eligible R&I Staff Exchanges between academic and non-academic participants were implemented. Despite all unexpected difficulties due to COVID pandemics, and thanks to the 18 months extension granted by the Commission, the 3D-NEONET consortium was able to execute 99.3% of the 210 secondment months originally planned.
Some tangible outcomes from 3DNEONET are: i) 17 publications in scientific peer reviewed journals and 13 communications at international conferences, ii) a patent application ii) several new collaborative proposals (to EU H2020/Horizon EU programmes and other funding agencies) involving several participants, out of which €1.3 Million of additional funding has been secured so far, which enables continuity of several research lines of the project iv) organisation of 4 international workshops in Portugal, Spain and Ireland, v) generation of 3 educational videos, vi) 10 school visits in Ireland and Spain reaching out to more than 1000 children, and vii) over 15 appearances in the media (press releases, lay articles and interviews).

3D-NEONET is currently a consolidated and sustainable international network of academics and SMEs who are collectively overcoming obstacles in the development of therapeutics for oncology and ophthalmology.
3D Projection of a Human Eye Cross Section