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Hemoglobin based Protein Nanocarriers for Tumour Oxygenation and a more effective Photodynamic Therapy

Project description

Innovative carriers for more efficient photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves the use of a drug that is activated by light to kill cancer cells. The presence of oxygen is crucial for radical oxygen species generation, which causes the death of tumour cells. A major obstacle in PDT in cancer is the hypoxia in tumour tissue. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the OXIGENATED project aims to develop haemoglobin drug delivery nanocarriers (HDDNs) for the simultaneous oxygen and photosensitiser delivery to tumour tissue for efficient PDT. The HDDNs will transport oxygen complexed to haemoglobin with the photosensitiser molecules entrapped in the core. The uptake of HDDNs by cells as well as their intracellular fate and toxicity will be tested in vitro. In vivo studies on mice will trace radiolabelled carriers using tomography.


A major drawback of Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) and other therapies for cancer treatment is the limited oxygen content, hypoxia, in tumour tissue. In PDT a photosensitizing molecule is delivered to malignant tissue to generate radical oxygen species (ROS). The presence of oxygen is fundamental for ROS generation, ultimately causing the death of tumour cells.
This project aims to develop hemoglobin drug delivery nanocarriers in the nano and submicron range for simultaneous oxygen and photosensitizer delivery to tumour tissue for a more efficient Photodynamic Therapy.
Hemoglobin-based nanocarriers (HOBCs) will be prepared by co-precipitation of hemoglobin with carbonates and surface coating with bovine serum albumin. The carriers will transport oxygen complexed to hemoglobin while photosensitizer molecules will be entrapped in the core. Carriers will be modified with homing peptides to target them to cancer cells. In vitro studies will be conducted to study the uptake of HOBCs by cells, their intracellular fate, toxicity, and oxygen and photosensitizer delivery. In vivo fate of carriers will be studied in mice with radiolabeled carriers by Positron Emission Tomography and Single Emission Computer Tomography. The efficiency of the HOBCs for oxygen delivery and for PDT will be tested in vitro and in vivo in breast and skin cancer models.
A multidisciplinary team has been gathered with scientists at the forefront of Material Science, Self assembly, Physics, Chemistry, Imaging, Molecular Biology and Cancer Therapy from Germany, Estonia, Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Thailand. The participation of a SME will be fundamental for the future commercialization of project developments. OXIGENATED will actively work towards exchanging skills and knowledge through secondments of Early Stage and Experienced Researchers, and through networking and training activities. Seconded researchers will develop new scientific and complementary skills while exposed to new research environments.


Net EU contribution
€ 547 400,00
Paseo miramon 182, parque tecnologico de san sebastian edificio empresarial c
20009 San sebastian

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Noreste País Vasco Gipuzkoa
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (3)

Partners (4)