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MASSTRPLAN Report Summary

Project ID: 675132
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MASSTRPLAN (MASS Spectrometry TRaining network for Protein Lipid adduct ANalysis)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Summary of the project objectives

In many chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer, highly reactive lipids are produced that bind to proteins inducing damage, and this can contribute to disease. This process is called lipoxidation. Elucidation of lipoxidation can improve our understanding of disease and ultimately lead to new diagnostic or therapeutic approaches. The only reliable and accurate method to characterize lipoxidation in detail is high resolution mass spectrometry. Nevertheless, understanding of the consequences of lipoxidation requires multidisciplinary approaches, including molecular and cellular biology techniques and a strong support of bioinformatics.

There is an urgent need of researchers with a strong background in advanced analytical methods as well as a broad perspective of disease mechanisms, who can address these questions generating knowledge that can revert to society. To train young researchers is the main aim of MASSTRPLAN ITN. To achieve this, the MASSTRPLAN ITN brings together a multi-disciplinary network of 6 academic beneficiaries, 2 hospital beneficiaries and 2 commercial beneficiaries in collaboration with 14 partners working in the fields of technology, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and learned societies.

The main objectives of MASSTRPLAN are to:

1. Train 14 early stage researchers (ESRs) in advanced and novel chromatography, mass spectrometry and complementary techniques including microscopy and bioinformatics to detect challenging heterogeneous biomolecule modifications and determine their functional effects;
2. Give ESRs a broad perspective on relevance & mechanisms of oxidative modifications in pathophysiology and biotechnology;
3. Enable ESRs trained in technology development to engage effectively with the clinical sector;
4. Train ESRs in translational and development skills to produce new protocols, materials and commercializable diagnostic tools.

Chronic inflammatory-based diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are major causes of mortality and morbidity in the EU and cost the economy dearly in health care and lost working time. There is a shortage of researchers with relevant scientific and technical expertise to develop advanced analytical tools for detecting disease markers for early diagnosis, and this needs to be urgently addressed to facilitate better understanding of inflammatory diseases and diagnosis.

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

Work performed so far

Training activities

Within the first 2 years, all 14 ESRs attended 4 network training events (including the first summer school) and two series of webinars (training webinars and research webinars given by the ESRs), as well as attending post-graduate courses at the institution where they are registered for their PhD. Topics have ranged from the basics of mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography via webinars, to practical and theoretical workshops and courses in soft skills such as scientific presentations and public engagement. All training resources are stored and accessible to the ESRs via a secure Moodle Virtual Environment. The second summer school on Redox-omic Technologies and their Application in Health and Disease has been organized in collaboration with MASSTRPLAN partners SFRR-Europe, EuPA and Elsevier, and has attracted external funding by FEBS and IUBMB; registration will open in December.

Scientific progress and dissemination

The scientific work is progressing very well, with extensive collection of data by all the scientific teams, and involving close collaborative work between the teams and partners. Most ESRs have undertaken a secondment to another beneficiary research team or partner organization, and some students have done 2 secondments. Some examples of key research advances made so far are:

• the identification of novel diagnostic ions for mass spectrometry analysis of oxidized or nitrated lipids and lipoxidized proteins;
• improved chromatographic methods for separation of oxidized phospholipids;
• development of novel receptor-based approaches to enrichment of modified proteins;
• identification of new lipoxidation-susceptible cellular proteins: we have been able to identify and characterize the lipid molecules that attach to proteins and directly observe how this affects the function of the protein in disease models.
• generation of novel information on how antibodies bind to and recognize lipoxidized proteins, which could be important for immune responses and diagnostics;
• the development of new bioinformatic approaches to search mass spectrometry data on oxidatively modified biomolecules.

So far, four reviews, one primary article and several conference abstracts have been published. Another primary article is currently under review. Several joint publications are being prepared, based on the collaborative work mentioned above. MASSTRPLAN is proving to be an extremely interactive network.

Two ERSs have already won poster prizes at international conferences, and all ESRs have had the opportunity to present their work at national and international conferences, as well as at more local events (such as Café Scientifique and presentations to local schools and the public). The ESRs have set up and manage a project website, Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts; they made a simple preliminary video explaining the project and are in the process of producing a second one for the REA call for video submissions “Showcase your project”.

Deliverables and milestones

14 deliverables and 6 milestones have already been achieved on time, and the rest are on track to meet their deadlines.

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)

Expected potential impact

MASSTRPLAN will have a major impact on the scientific understanding of the roles of oxidized phospholipids in inflammatory diseases, by identifying proteins that are susceptible to lipoxidation damage and showing how these modifications change their biological activity. It will provide new technologies for detecting modified lipids and proteins, helping in the challenge of finding useful clinical biomarkers and improving diagnosis of serious diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It is expected that the new tools developed through MASSTRPLAN research will be translated to clinical applications and healthcare industry through the close links with hospitals and commercial partners. Ultimately, earlier diagnosis will help improve treatment options and the long-term outlook for patients with inflammatory-based diseases. Moreover, MASSTRPLAN will produce a cohort of high-performing young researchers with a broad, multidisciplinary vision of biomedical research and deep understanding of modern redoxomic technologies.

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