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19/09/2022

A research project into Parkinson’s disease by Dr Marta Martínez-Vicente awarded a CaixaResearch Health Research 2022 grant

Marta Martínez beca CaixaResearch 2022

19/09/2022

It is the project “New Nanotechnological Therapy for Parkinson’s disease: Nose to Brain Delivery of GBA-Polymer Nanoconjugates (nanoGBAtoBrain)”.

The CaixaResearch Health Research 2022 grants were awarded to 33 new and promising biomedical and health projects in Spanish and Portuguese research centres and universities. They include the project “New Nanotechnological Therapy for Parkinson’s disease: Nose to Brain Delivery of GBA-Polymer Nanoconjugates (nanoGBAtoBrain)” led by Dr Marta Martínez-Vicente, principal investigator with the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) Neurogenerative Disease Research Group. The project, led by the VHIR, will be carried out in a consortium with Dr Julia Lorenzo, from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Dr María Jesús Vicent, from the Príncipe Felipe Research Centre (CIPF), and has received a subsidy of 599,723 euros.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. It has no cure and until now treatments have only alleviated the symptoms, without preventing the death of dopaminergic neurons, the main cause of the disorder. This means there is an urgent need to develop therapies that stop the neurodegenerative process, which is Dr Martínez-Vicente’s field of research.
Recent studies on animal models show that restoring lysosomal enzyme GBA function can prevent neurodegeneration and lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Furthermore, a therapeutic treatment capable of providing GBA has already been approved for human use. However, until now this potential therapeutic treatment has not been applicable to Parkinson’s disease because GBA cannot cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the central nervous system, where it exercises its function.

To overcome this major limitation, the project researchers are developing an innovative polymeric nanoconjugate-based technology capable of conveying the GBA intranasally to the brain to halt neurodegeneration. “This opens a revolutionary and promising route to stop the progression of Parkinson’s while providing a new pathway for applying this new medicine to other neuronal diseases in the future”, explains Dr Martínez-Vicente.

CaixaResearch Health Research 2022 grants

The call for grants, which received 546 applications, aims to identify and boost scientific initiatives with high levels of excellence and social potential and impact in basic, clinical and translational research and innovation. Specifically, the grants are all aimed at fields posing a health challenge, such as infectious diseases (11 projects), neuroscience (9 projects), oncology (8 projects) and cardiovascular and related metabolic diseases (5 projects). Several of the initiatives awarded grants will develop biomedical technologies to tackle some of these health challenges.

With regard to the origins of the selected projects, 20 are from research centres and universities in different Spanish autonomous communities: Catalonia (9), Community of Madrid (6), Andalusia (2), Valencian Community (2) and Galicia (1). A further 13 initiatives are from Portuguese centres: 7 from the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, 3 from the Northern Region (Porto, Braga), 2 from the Central Region (Coimbra) and 1 from the Algarve.

Since the programme started in 2018, the organisation has provided 94.8 million euros for 138 innovative research projects with a high social impact. The “La Caixa” Foundation has just announced a new call for applications for CaixaResearch Health Research 2023, and interested researchers can now start sending their applications for the grants.

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