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HyMedPoly Report Summary

Project ID: 643050
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HyMedPoly (Drug-Free Antibacterial Hybrid Biopolymers for Medical Applications)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Infection has become one of the toughest problems in the medical world and as bacteria become more resistant to drugs there are fewer effective antibiotics to fight against pathogens.

HyMedPoly is developing new therapies based on intrinsically antibacterial polymers, polymer composites with inorganic materials and polymers with antibacterial additives for the production of drug-free antibacterial hybrid biopolymers as therapeutic materials to prevent, control and remove infections.

Our ultimate goals are to develop a new generation of professionals who will play a pivotal role in pushing forward this challenging and knowledge-intensive field for the coming decades to benefit the European economy and who will be able to bring state-of-the-art technology to industry, advance products for hospitals and personal healthcare, and develop new and improved therapeutic strategies.

The HyMedPoly team has recruited a cohort of fifteen Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) to work with a group of nine universities and companies to:
 Validate the new materials concepts and determine key design parameters that will guide the development of families of novel therapeutic hybrid polymers to combat bacteria-related infection.
 Study industrial processing techniques to fabricate the medical materials and product demonstrators.
 Undertake a comprehensive and innovative training programme to meet industrial demands for fully rounded professional researchers.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Early activity set the foundations for the project.

A proactive dissemination programme was started at an early stage, with the website as the main vehicle for external communications on network activities and achievements.

A standard recruitment approach was agreed by the project partners for both advertising and interviewing of candidates and all fifteen ESR positions were filled.

Although at an early stage of their projects, the ESRs are making good progress in their chosen topics with active communication between the host universities and the industrial/clinical partners. Eleven of the projects are developing, synthesising and testing new biopolymers, bioceramics and bioactive glasses that can act as active agents to prevent or eradicate bacterial infections. Two projects are investigating in-vitro bio-evaluation of antimicrobial biomaterials with a focus on wound dressings. A further two projects are using computer modelling studies and digital manufacturing approaches to specify structures and surfaces which will maximise the antimicrobial effectiveness of the novel materials and products developed.

In parallel with their research projects, the ESRs are following a training programme, which introduces the scientific and clinical themes relevant to the initiative and highlights the issues around managing collaborative research and development.

As the ESRs have progressed their projects they have increasingly presented their work and participated in outreach activities. For example they have given presentations and displayed technical posters at biomaterial conferences, they have helped to organise technical events at their host organisations and they have attended undergraduate events to talk about their projects and the MSCA programme in general.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

By establishing an ESR cohort within a focused research programme, the HyMedPoly project group is well placed both to develop novel therapeutic hybrid biomaterials for antibacterial applications and to build a world leading reputation for the EU in this discipline.

The technology developed will potentially lead to a series of new products incorporating novel polymeric, bioceramic and bioactive glass formulations. As a result, it will achieve substantial health benefits in the war on bacteria and healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and impact on their estimated annual cost of at least € 40 billion.

A cohort of ESRs will be trained in the development of antibacterial materials to address new therapeutic strategies to treat diseases in a range of medical applications. Their additional training in managing research projects and exposure to industrial environments will raise their effectiveness in applying their research in practical applications and accelerate the project’s goal of developing products.

The project’s dissemination campaign will raise awareness of the public and industrial stakeholders of the benefits from using these products and materials.

Finally, and most importantly, HyMedPoly will greatly increase the competitiveness of the European biomaterials industry, including those SMEs directly involved in the activities.
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