Interview with Prof. Ivana Pibiri after participation in the first international Caparica conference on prescriptomics and precision medicine 2024

Professor Ivana Pibiri has received an invitation to attend as a Keynote speaker at the first Caparica International Conference on Prescriptionomics and Precision Medicine 2024, held from 10 to 13 May 2024 in Caparica, Lisbon, Portugal.

The conference featured leading experts in this field, including plenary speakers Benedikt Brors of the German Center for Cancer Research, Rong Fan of the Yale School of Medicine, Anil Korkut of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Forest White of the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine.

In addition to the keynote speech entitled “Fighting Nonsense by Next-Gen Therapeutics: a Precision Medicine Approach Based on Translational Readthrough Inducing Drugs.”, a further contribution from Professor Pibiri’s research group was the poster entitled: “Identification of new Translational Readthrough Inducing Drugs”, authors: D. Ricci,A. Peace, M. Tutone,  C. Rizzo, I. Fiduccia,  E. Vitale, I. Cruciata,  F. Corrao,  R. Melfi, L. Lentini,I. Pibiri. The contribution presented by doctoral student Davide Ricci, in the second year of his PhD in Molecular and Biomolecular Sciences, who won the award for best poster at the Conference.

The conference was strongly focused on precision medicine, the primary objective of the Heal Italia network. And it was conceived to be an exclusive event, with no more than 150 participants. This deliberate limitation of size with the aim of ensuring the presence of pioneers in the field of prescriptomics and precision medicine. The goal was to create a focused, high-level environment conducive to fostering new collaborations and building teams that will drive future advances in this innovative area of ​​medical research and practice. This approach underlines the conference’s commitment to advancing the frontiers of precision medicine and prescriptomics.

The importance of prescriptomics and precision medicine in the 21st century is highlighted by advances in mass spectrometry, omics technologies and artificial intelligence. Prescriptomics is an emerging field that focuses on the complex interplay between genetics, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and epigenetics and their impact on the efficacy, safety, and response to prescription drugs and precision medicine. This approach goes beyond conventional methods, aiming for a transformative paradigm that allows for the precise customization of treatment strategies. This leads to minimized adverse effects and optimized therapeutic outcomes, marking a significant shift towards precise and personalized medicine.

The conference covered various topics, including the use of omics technologies for diagnostic purposes, sample collection and manipulation techniques, effective patient follow-up strategies, bioinformatics, leveraging artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of prescriptions, precision in prescription management and insights into precision and personalized therapies.

This event highlights the rapid evolution and importance of prescriptomics and precision medicine in contemporary healthcare, highlighting the role of cutting-edge technologies in the advancement of this field.

The pioneering research conducted by Prof. Ivana Pibiri and Laura Lentini on rare diseases has led to a profound understanding of translational readthrough inducing drugs (TRID), essential molecules capable of restoring protein synthesis compromised by nonsense mutations in DNA. Nonsense mutations, which account for approximately 11% of genetic diseases, introduce premature termination codons (PTCs) into the mRNA coding for a specific protein, resulting in premature arrest of protein synthesis.

The EMA-approved TRID Ataluren faces market suspension, underscoring the critical need for new solutions in the treatment of genetic disorders originating from nonsense mutations. Prof. Pibiri’s research has led to the identification of three new molecules, now patented and subjected to rigorous preclinical screening for various conditions including cystic fibrosis, Schwachman Diamond syndrome, primary immunodeficiency, choroideremia, hemophilia, Fabry disease and muscular dystrophy. Duchenne.

Over the years, Prof. Pibiri has obtained funding from the Italian Foundation for research on cystic fibrosis, co-directing a research group together with Prof. Laura Lentini. He currently leads his team within the PNRR HEAL ITALIA project, he is also Principal Investigator for the National PRIN Project funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (2023-2025) and Principal Investigator of the local Unit in a PNRR PoC ( 2024-2026).

Prof. Pibiri’s multidisciplinary research group includes geneticists, molecular biologists, physiologists, computational chemists and organic chemists, working collaboratively within the Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, continuing to advance significant advances in the field of rare genetic diseases, offering hope for better treatments and outcomes.

Breast cancer, new therapies to reduce the risk of recurrence: the study by the Unipa team

The recent research published in the well-known journal Nature Communications is the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration between numerous national and international universities and institutions. In particular, the research group of the University of Trento, coordinated by Professor Alessio Zippo and that of the University of Palermo led by Professor Matilde Todaro, together with the researcher Alice Turdo and the post-Doc Caterina D’Accardo of the Promise Department and the researcher Miriam Gaggianesi of the MePreCC department, have developed a preclinical model that mimics the onset and dissemination in secondary organs of breast cancer cells which, due to their “dormant” phenotype, are able to survive in an unfavorable environment and escape anti-inflammatory immune surveillance. -tumor. This study lays the foundations for the development of new therapies aimed at reducing the risk of recurrence in patients with breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed neoplasm and the leading cause of oncological death in women worldwide – explain the research team -. Although in Italy almost 60 thousand new cases were diagnosed in 2023, thanks to early diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatments, the five-year survival rate of breast cancer patients reaches approximately 87%. On the contrary, tumors diagnosed at an advanced stage are less susceptible to traditional therapies and are often associated with recurrences within two years after diagnosis. Furthermore, approximately 20% of patients with a localized tumor sensitive to hormone therapy have a reappearance of the disease at 15 years. This phenomenon is responsible for minimal residual disease, caused by the presence of “dormant” disseminated tumor cells to colonize in distant organs and persist in a latent state before giving rise to metastasis. Numerous studies have highlighted that the adaptation of tumor cells to external stimuli, through epigenetic reprogramming, plays a central role in the progression of cancer. and in the formation of metastases”.

“Thanks to the experience acquired over the years by our group in preclinical research, we have recreated a model that mimics the onset and metastatic progression of breast tumors in order to study the role of disseminated cells, responsible for minimal residual disease – declares Miriam Gaggianesi of the MePreCC department – ​​The possibility of being able to characterize these cells at a molecular level could lead to the development of personalized therapies”.

“One of the main causes of the reappearance of the disease is the inability of the immune system to recognize and therefore hinder the spread of tumor cells present in the metastatic organ – declare doctors Alice Turdo and Caterina d’Accardo (Promise department) – The possibility being able to enhance immunosurveillance is in fact one of the new frontiers in the panorama of anti-tumor therapies”.

“The multidisciplinary collaboration between various national and international groups from Australia, Canada, America, Spain and Italy represents an important step forward in the study and control of metastases – underlines Professor Matilde Todaro of the Promise department -. This study, the result of joint effort of researchers from different disciplines has contributed significantly to the understanding and management of dormant breast cancer metastases. The contribution of young researchers has been fundamental in this process and their enthusiasm has enriched the research. leading to new perspectives and innovative solutions. Thanks to their openness to collaboration and sharing of knowledge it has been possible to overcome the complex challenges related to the study of dormant metastases, it is essential that researchers from different disciplines work together , integrating their skills to effectively address the problem. This synergy between experts has made it possible to take a significant step towards the defeat or control of metastases, offering new hope in the fight against metastatic breast cancer.” Funding from Airc projects was used to conduct the study.

Source: PalermoToday

Train trip for the prevention of rare diseases on the occasion of the “World Day dedicated to Rare Diseases” on February 29th

A train journey for the prevention and treatment of rare diseases with stops at the railway stations of the Marche. This is what is promoted, on the occasion of the World Day dedicated to Rare Diseases (29 February 2024), by the Medical Clinic of the Marche University Hospital, in collaboration with the Regional Department of Transport, Trenitalia and the Italian Group Fighting Scleroderma , and with the patronage of the Executive, the Council and the Equal Opportunities Commission of the Marche Region, as well as the Polytechnic University of Marche.

A new technological hub for the South between Unipa and Bi-Rex partner of Heal Italia

The Rector of the University of Palermo, Massimo Midiri, and the General Director of BI-REX, Stefano Cattorini, have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at technical-scientific cooperation with the aim of generating value for the territory of the Sicily Region and the Emilia-Romagna and new growth factors for the City of Palermo and regional ecosystems, through the implementation of projects consistent with scientific excellence and the needs of local businesses.
On the occasion of the signing, the start-up plan for the activities and services was defined which UniPa and BI-REX, in collaboration with the regional administration and employers’ associations, will make available to businesses and local authorities through the opening of an office BI-REX operational in Palermo in spaces made available by the University, an important meeting point aimed at providing services for the digitalisation of businesses co-financed by PNRR funds.
“The opening of a BI-REX operational headquarters in Palermo has a strategic importance with a high impact for companies in the South and Sicily – declares Stefano Cattorini, General Director of BI-REX – BI-REX, by virtue of the PNRR funds awarded by MIMIT, will be able to provide subsidized services with state aid to Sicilian companies in the form of innovative 4.0 services at subsidized rates. The axis generated with the University of Palermo is of fundamental importance for the provision of these services, in terms of research applied to industry, local skills activated, state-of-the-art technologies present in the University laboratories , all assets with enormous added value that will be put at the service of businesses, local authorities and healthcare”.
“The collaboration with the BI-REX Competence Center represents a further step forward towards the creation of a system of specialist skills in areas relating to the enabling technologies of Industry 5.0, such as Big Data systems and Artificial Intelligence, and towards the creation of a new and integrated plan of activities to support technological transfer which will be active in the coming months and usable by our students and researchers and the entire territory” – underlines Massimo Midiri, Rector of the University of Palermo.
The University of Palermo and BI-REX are already consolidated partners in various initiatives in national and European projects linked to the PNRR and National Complementary Plan. In the panorama of Precision Medicine, with the HEAL ITALIA project (Health Extended ALLiance for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab-research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine) and in the DARE project (DigitAl lifelong pRevEntion) which will instead leverage the enormous potential of data to improve the tools and knowledge aimed at defining, monitoring and predicting health trajectories with a view to prevention.
BI-REX and UniPa will work together to develop a strategy aimed at enhancing its planning heritage and the development of the territory, the attraction of investments and the use of resources intended for the University, local authorities and businesses.
To this end, the respective technical-scientific resources may be shared to jointly develop development projects in the sectors of common interest, facilitating procedures between the institutions aimed at achieving common objectives.
Within the framework of the agreement, workshops are already being planned to present the services jointly provided to businesses and institutions, as well as cultural and study initiatives, technical-scientific comparisons, restitution to the territory and public engagement.
BI-REX will facilitate the University’s dialogue with its member companies and between these and Sicilian companies, through the involvement of Sicilian employers’ associations, also with the aim of promoting curricular internships and industrial and research doctorates and in the planning of specific lines of research related to the enabling technologies of Industry 5.0.
BI-REX will also support activities related to the digital transition of SMEs, start-ups, Sicilian local authorities through demonstration and training actions and services, test before investment, technology transfer and best practices, business acceleration and creation, access to funding for R&D projects.
In turn, the University of Palermo will make available its wealth of basic and applied research in fields of common interest to enhance the analysis, interpretation, evaluation and decision-making capacity of the technological and entrepreneurial system and to achieve matching between know-how needs in order to arrive at an organizational model focused on the transfer and promotion of technological innovation 4.0.

– Picture: press office University of Palermo
(ITALPRESS).

Doctor Valter Torri of Heal Italia explains the progress of the techniques for the fight against cancer to the IRCCS Mario Negri

The importance of cancer prevention and scientific research to identify new treatments to deal with this still too widespread disease are the main objective pursued by IRCCS Mario Negri, partner of Heal Italia. 

The Institute studies a wide range of tumors, with particular attention to gynecological ones, sarcomas, thoracic tumors (lung, mesotheliomas), pancreatic tumors, rare tumors such as thymomas.

«Thinking about the recent results, precisely in the context of this rare tumor of the thoracic cavity which affects one person in a million every year, – explains Massimo Broggini Head of the Department of Experimental Oncology – in 2023 we obtained significant results with the Relevent study, which managed, thanks to the participation of several Italian hospitals, to involve 41 Italian patients with advanced thymic carcinoma, showing promising results in the use of the drug ramucirumab in addition to standard chemotherapy, with a response exceeding expectations.”

«A second study presented at the Esmo oncology congress in Madrid – continues Valter Torri, Head of the Department of Clinical Oncology – concerns endometrial cancer. The Attend study, which involved 551 patients, demonstrated that the combined use of the immunotherapy atezolizumab with chemotherapy improves survival in patients with metastatic and recurrent endometrial cancer.”

2024 starts in the name of new techniques and instruments that the Institute has implemented. The use of gene therapy via CRISPR, a powerful technique that acts like a real molecular scissors, will be the tool to understand which genes are crucial for tumor growth. Another challenge that will see researchers engaged in 2024 is to understand the timing of the onset of resistance to drug treatment, carefully monitoring how the effectiveness of drugs decreases over time.

Thanks to the development of systems that allow the evaluation, in a single experiment, of the anti-tumor activity of over 2,500 molecules already approved and used to treat various pathologies, Oncology departments will be able to open up new perspectives in the anti-tumor field by encouraging the rapid use of drugs already known in other contexts.

Source: Corriere della Sera Bergamo

Heal Italia participates with Dr. Ivana Pibiri at the Prescriptomics 2024 Congress

Heal Italia participates with Dr. Ivana Pibiri at the Prescriptomics 2024 Congress. The importance of prescriptomics and precision medicine in the 21st century is highlighted by advances in mass spectrometry, omics technologies and artificial intelligence. Prescriptomics is an emerging field that focuses on the complex interplay between genetics, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and epigenetics and their impact on the efficacy, safety, and response to prescription drugs and precision medicine. This approach goes beyond conventional methods, aiming for a transformative paradigm that allows for the precise customization of treatment strategies. This leads to minimized adverse effects and optimized therapeutic outcomes, marking a significant shift towards precise and personalized medicine. The first Caparica International Conference on Prescriptomics and Precision Medicine 2024, scheduled for May 2024 in Caparica, Portugal, will feature leading experts in this field. Plenary speakers include Benedikt Brors of the German Center for Cancer Research, Rong Fan of the Yale School of Medicine, Anil Korkut of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Forest White of the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine. Keynote speakers such as Nikos Tapinos of Brown University, Russel Rockne of the Beckman Research Institute in City of Hope, Yue Lu of the University of Utah, Albert Grinshpun of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Ritambhara Singh also of Brown University, and Alexander Xu of Cedars- Sinai Medical Center will contribute their opinions.

Gender Equality Plan – Heal Italia

The Heal Italia Foundation has approved the 2024/26 Gender Equality Plan.

The Gender Equality Plan 2024/26 drawn up by the working group of the Heal Italia Foundation was approved by resolution of the Board of Directors on 21 November 2023 and resolution of the Council of Founding Members on 21 December 2023. A plan that places gender equality at the center as an extraordinary engine of growth and as one of the most relevant and urgent cornerstones of the development and progress agenda of societies. In line with what was established by the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and as reiterated by the European Union through the “Strategic Engagement on Gender Equality for the five-year period 2020-2025”.
The Heal Italia Foundation, in order to promote gender equality, in addition to the actions already undertaken, will activate reward measures aimed at promoting studies and research on gender issues also through the establishment of a dedicated fund, and by starting fundraising activities internal and external for the establishment of research grants and post-doc scholarships on gender issues. Furthermore, Heal Italia will adopt a code of ethics and conduct for the prevention of violence, harassment and discrimination.

The Foundation will also organize awareness and dissemination information events and the creation of a web space on its website also to be able to receive reports “in a confidential manner” from all staff who work directly/indirectly within the Heal Italia network.

The Foundation thanks Professor Caterina Ventimiglia for her precious collaboration in the drafting of the GEP Heal Italia.

The complete text of the approved document is attached (IT)

Heal Italia at “The First International Symposium Stem Cells: From Biology To Innovative Therapeutics”

Massimo Dominici, Director of the Complex Oncology Structure, Full Professor of Oncology and Director of the Cellular Therapies Laboratories, one of the spoke leaders of the Heal Italia Foundation (FHI) participated in the first international symposium on innovative therapies in Morocco. This is an event of international importance for the Mediterranean basin which saw the presence of FHI within a broader project of international collaborations. We talked about cell therapies, 3D models for studying tumors and the microbiome, all topics that find important critical mass in FHI, allowing us to launch “outreach” projects for FHI researchers. Attached is the PDF of the conference.

Preview scientific focuses Heal Italia calls

Previews on the scientific focuses of the Heal Italia Calls have just been published. The summary table is attached.

The Call, whose publication is scheduled for the first week of December 2023, provides for the selection of project proposals to be financed on the national territory for the strengthening of the Precision Medicine Supply Chain within the “Health Extended ALLiance” Extended Partnership research programme. for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab-research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine” – HEAL ITALIA, using the resources of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) Mission 4 “Education and Research” – Component 2 “From Research to Business ” – Investment 1.3, financed by the European Union – NextGenerationUE – pursuant to the Public Notice of the Ministry of University and Research (MUR) n. 341 of 15.03.2022

Cascading Calls EXTENDED PARTNERSHIP HEAL ITALIA FOUNDATION

Eight Calls promoted by the Heal Italia Foundation, implementing body of the Health Extended ALliance for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab-research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine (HEAL ITALIA) Project are arriving.

HEAL ITALIA Cascading Calls

The Call, whose publication is scheduled for the first week of December 2023, provides for the selection of project proposals to be financed on the national territory for the strengthening of the Precision Medicine Supply Chain within the “Health Extended ALLiance” Extended Partnership research programme. for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab-research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine” – HEAL ITALIA, using the resources of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) Mission 4 “Education and Research” – Component 2 “From Research to Business ” – Investment 1.3, financed by the European Union – NextGenerationUE – pursuant to the Public Notice of the Ministry of University and Research (MUR) n. 341 of 15.03.2022

Of the overall budget of the Project, an amount equal to €11,470,000.00 will be used in Cascading Calls, with a percentage share of 75% to be allocated to Southern Italy, open to the participation of parties external to the HEAL ITALIA Partnership, who with their own contribution are able to promote an increasingly specialized and integrated system of skills for Precision Medicine.

The manager of the Call is the Spoke Leader, in collaboration with the Hub and therefore, the publication of eight Calls issued by the eight public Spokes is expected.

Specific objectives of the Calls

The HEAL ITALIA program promotes a scheme based on cascade funding to support Proof-of-Concept (PoC) projects with industrial research and experimental development processes involving companies, specialized clinical centers, IRCCS, healthcare companies, organizations research institutions, Foundations, Consortium Companies, SMEs, start-ups, spin-offs and other entities interested in the creation/implementation of valorization and acceleration programs activated by the spokes and managed in collaboration with the HUB.

The objective is to increase the levels of technicological maturity (TRL – Technology Readiness Levels) envisaged by the HEAL ITALIA Programme through the involvment of subjects external to the Extended Partnership, strongly interested in introducing/implementing significant innovations that act as a trailblazer and/or as a tool for accelerating and specializing the activities carried out by the Spokes for the search for technologically advanced solutions, in relation to products, processes, and services transferable to the areas of intervention of the Precision Medicine.

The Call aims to support proposals relating to activities that envisage reaching a level of technological maturity TRL > 3. Support therefore from the early research phases, mainly referring to the development/implementation of technologies with extremely advanced content, including conceptual verification and prototypes for the validation of the technology, demonstration activities for pilot projects and feasibility studies also in order to be able to evaluate high potential activities and support the creation of spin-offs and start-ups.

Main thematic areas covered 

In line with the Mission of the HEAL ITALIA Research Program carried out by Spokes, the publication of eight Calls is expecte to focus on multiple lines – industrial research targets and experimental development for innovative project proposals aimed also through technological transfer at the implementation of technological innovations 4.0 applied to Precision Medicine.

Who can partecipate

Subjects external to the HEAL ITALIA extended partnership identified as: Public Administrations are eligible to present projects for recognition of the contribution envisaged by the Notice; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), innovative startups; Large companies (GI), foreign companies, national health service bodies, universities and bodies supervised by the MUR, research organizations registered with the ANR, public and private foundations registered with the ANR, consortium companies and consortia international significance.

The application for participation can be submitted either individually or in association (from a minimum of two to a maximum of four subjects). Participation in cascade calls is not permitted for individuals who hold the role of Hub, Spoke or Affiliate of the HEAL ITALIA project within the proposed role.

Each call promoted by the Spoke will be able to finance a number of projects consistent with the allocated budget.

Maximum duration

The duration of implementation of the project cannot exceed 18 months starting from the date of signing of the mandatory contract, following the admission decision. The activities must be completed by September 2025. 

Financial allocation 

The overall financial allocation for the cascade calls promoted by Spoke in collaboration with the Hub is equal to €11.470.000, €8.540.000 are dedicated to the South.

Territorial Area

The projects admitted to the subsidy must be carried out and/or registered in the local unit of the beneficiary and located in the national territory and for the Southern area, i.e. in Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia.

Concessions available

The benefits of the Call are granted in the form of a direct contribution to expenses.

For businesses, the maximum grantable amount of the relief will be calculated on the basis of the size of the business in accordance with European legislation on “State Aid”.

THE ORGANIZATION OF AN INFORMATION DAY IS PLANNED

Prof. Ivana Pibiri of the Heal Italia research group wins the 2023 ITWIIN award

Professor Ivana Pibiri of the Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies of the University of Palermo, among the researchers of the Heal Italia group, was awarded by the Italian Association of Women Inventors and Innovators (ITWIIN) with one of the six prizes awarded up for grabs as part of the 2023 edition of the “ITWIIN Award”.

ITWIIN Award is a competition aimed at women of Italian nationality, or residents and working in the national territory, who are entrepreneurs, professionals registered with their professional association or researchers in public or private structures. The competition aims to enhance the professional successes of creative and active women in the fields of research, technology transfer and innovative business.

Ivana Pibiri won the Innovation Award, for her important contribution in academic research and precision medicine, for the development of innovative technologies in the treatment of genetic pathologies, including cystic fibrosis and other rare diseases.

Ivana Pibiri (center in the picture, with her collegues Antonina Pirrotta and Simona Ester Rombo).

100+ researchers for Italian Medical Scientific Research. 57% women with an average age of 34 years in the RTDA target

There are already 111 researchers contracted by Heal Italia, of which 87 RTDAs in the 57% female target with an average age of 34 years and 24 PhD students to whom a further 31 RTDAs and 48 PhDs from the national doctorate currently being recruited will be added. The Foundation intends to dedicate a campaign to them aimed at the concept of Open Science for Precision Medicine by calling on “National and International Scientific Research” to collaborate.

The PhD in Precision Medicine is underway

Heal Italia proposes the establishment of a Doctorate of National Interest (DIN) in Precision Medicine with administrative headquarters at the University of Palermo which is also the proponent of the project “HEALITALIA – Health Extended Alliance for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab- research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine” funded within the PNRR (Mission 4 “Education and Research” Component 2 “From Research to Business”) which represents the first Italian multidisciplinary research network of universities, IRCCS and supporting businesses of translational research for advanced diagnoses and therapies in the fight against cardiovascular, metabolic and rare diseases and cancer.

More HERE.

The professor. Andrea Pace and prof. Giorgio Stassi represent the Italian delegation at the Swedish Council Presidency conference “Life Sciences – The Era of Personalized Medicine”, 26 – 27 June 2023, Stockholm

Prof. Andrea Pace, President of Heal Italia and Prof. Giorgio Stassi, Spoke committee and Scientific coordinator of Heal Italia.

The conference highlights life sciences, with the aim of taking the next step in the development and organization of personalized medicine, a key issue for Europe. It will provide an opportunity for international dialogue and collaboration between key stakeholders. The conference will highlight the importance of research and innovation, highlight opportunities and challenges and define Europe’s future course.

Precision Medicine, the extended Heal Italia partnership begins: the Alma Mater leads one of the Spokes

Funded under the PNRR, the initiative will develop knowledge, research and innovative technologies in order to bring the National Health System into the contemporary era of Precision Medicine. The University of Bologna leads one of the eight operational units, focused on the use of large-scale data to promote precision medicine in diagnostics and therapeutics.

The first national supply chain dedicated to research and innovation in the field of Precision Medicine is called HEAL ITALIA. The initiative is part of one of the 14 extended partnerships envisaged by the PNRR as part of Mission 4 Component 2 “From Research to Business”, with the aim of investing in innovation hubs to strengthen research chains at national level and promote their participation in European and global strategic value chains.

The HEAL ITALIA project – “Health Extended ALliance for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab-research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine”, which has a budget of 114.7 million euros, was presented by the University of Palermo, in as a proposing entity, together with 11 other universities, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 5 Scientific Research and Treatment Institutes (IRCCS), 6 companies and a research foundation.

This is the first national network of scientists, technologists and young researchers who, with a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, share and develop knowledge, research and innovative technologies in order to bring the National Health System into the contemporary era of Precision Medicine. Through new methods, new services and above all an important network of clinical data to support translational research, new tools will be developed for the diagnosis and advanced therapies of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, metabolic and rare genetic diseases.

The University of Bologna is one of the partner universities and participates directly in the activities of all eight operational units (Spoke) into which the project is divided.

“By participating in this partnership, the University of Bologna places itself at the forefront in the fight against pathologies with a high social and health impact, through the development of innovative techniques for diagnosis and therapy tailored to the patient”, declares Alberto Believe, Pro-Rector for Research of the Alma Mater. “The involvement of hospital structures, including the IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, and important industrial partners will make it possible to make the most of the fruits of scientific research, to ensure increasingly cutting-edge healthcare for citizens”.

In particular, the Alma Mater will manage the coordination of Spoke 2, dedicated to “intelligent” health, i.e. the management of data and the development of advanced methods, algorithms and artificial intelligence approaches to integrate health big data.

“The University of Bologna will coordinate the Spoke of Intelligent Health focused on the use of large-scale data to promote precision medicine in diagnostics and therapeutics”, explains Stefano Diciotti, professor at the Department of Electrical Energy and Energy Engineering. ‘Information “Guglielmo Marconi” and coordinator of Spoke 2. “This objective will be achieved by exploiting multi-level big data storage and analysis solutions, which comply with current legislation regarding the safety and protection of health data; in particular, it will be used innovative artificial intelligence systems to integrate various types of data, such as clinical, molecular and imaging data”.

As a whole, HEAL ITALIA wants to consolidate and innovate the results already achieved in oncology by transferring them to further emerging contexts, promoting basic research that generates prevention, screening, risk stratification, early diagnosis and personalized precision therapies for cancer phenotypes. recently defined disease. Applied to all medical disciplines, this approach will allow the National Health Service to apply safer and more effective individual protocols in areas such as, for example, precision surgery and precision radiotherapy.

The project is very ambitious, as it includes eight interregional networks that cover all areas of interest in precision medicine (from research on omics sciences, to new technologies for early diagnosis, to the repositioning of drugs, to new protocols for primary prevention, secondary and tertiary, to new clinical protocols for radiotherapy treatments), with the participation of numerous established scientists operating for the first time within the same “mother network”. The objective is to bring solutions, innovative therapies and early diagnosis to the patient’s bedside, allowing the citizen to discover the pathology as soon as possible and treat it as best as possible, and offering the healthcare system useful solutions for the daily management of local and management services of the patient.

“It is an opportunity of a magnitude that has never been seen before for the Italian research system and which must be seized, aware, from the beginning, that the resources deployed by the European Union represent an investment rather than financing; subtle semantic difference that must make all actors in the field responsible”, says Andrea Pace, President of the HEAL ITALIA Foundation. “This challenge requires a shared, coordinated and multi-sectoral strategy, based on a transversal research methodological chain that includes all phases, from prevention and screening to advanced diagnostics up to personalized medicine, with the long-term vision of satisfying the right of each person to receive effective, personalized and sustainable health services in a homogeneous way, respecting privacy and data protection, for the benefit of the entire community”.

Overall, the research team is made up of 350 researchers belonging to the project partners: University of Tor Vergata, Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, University of Palermo, Sapienza – University of Rome, University of Milan Bicocca, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Polytechnic University of Marche, University of Pisa, University of Cagliari, University of Catania, University of Foggia, University of Verona, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Fondazione Toscana Life Sciences, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna Sant’Orsola, BI-REX National Competence Center, IRCCS Mediterranean Neurological Institute (Neuromed), IRCCS Hospital Physiotherapy Institutes, IRCCS Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, IRCCS Oncological Reference Center of Aviano, Mediterranean Oncological Institute, Engineering Informatics Engineering, Sordina Iort Technologies, Sanofi CHC, UPMC Italy. A team that will be further strengthened with the recruitment of over 100 new researchers and will train more than 100 doctoral students.

Precision medicine, Heal Italia begins: first national supply chain

Heal Italia was born, the first national supply chain dedicated to research and innovation in the field of Precision Medicine, financed with 114.7 million euros. The initiative is part of one of the 14 extended partnerships envisaged by the Pnrr as part of Mission 4 Component 2 ‘From Research to Business’, with the aim of investing in innovation hubs to strengthen research chains at national level and promote their participation in European and global strategic value chains.

The Heal Italia project (Health Extended Alliance for Innovative Therapies, Advanced Lab-research, and Integrated Approaches of Precision Medicine) was presented by the University of Palermo, as the proposing entity, together with 11 other Universities, the Istituto Superiore di Healthcare, five Scientific Research and Treatment Institutes, six companies and a research foundation, and represents the first national network of scientists, technologists and young researchers who develop innovative knowledge and technologies in order to bring the National Health System into the era contemporary Precision Medicine through new methods, new services and a network of clinical data to support translational research for advanced diagnoses and therapies in the fight against cancer and cardiovascular, metabolic and rare diseases.

The role of the Bi-Rex-Competence Center of Bologna specialized in Big Data is very important, which within this project will work to support digital transformation and Big Data Management processes in the world of healthcare, pharmaceuticals, research and innovation. Overall, the research team is made up of 350 researchers belonging to the project partners and will be further strengthened with the recruitment of more than one hundred new researchers and the training of over one hundred doctoral students.

The project, coordinated by Giorgio Stassi, professor of Technical Sciences of Laboratory Medicine, has the aim of “identifying and reducing the extremely large health inequalities between Northern and Southern Italy today, developing a roadmap of interregional collaboration to define innovative strategies based on scientific evidence and easily usable in clinical practice,” explains Stassi. “The overall goal is to provide novel, cost-effective and evidence-based predictive and non-invasive diagnostic pathways.”

The aim is therefore to create solutions to support innovative therapies and early diagnosis, allowing the citizen to discover the pathology as soon as possible and treat it as best as possible and offering the healthcare system useful systems for the daily management of local services and for taking care of the patient. “Our vision is to facilitate the transition to ultrasensitive, cost- and time-efficient detection tools that enable early diagnosis and frequent screening of patients, two of the cornerstones of precision medicine approaches. The development of innovative devices for precision diagnosis and personalized therapy will influence the course of the disease and patient-specific outcomes.”

The project’s eight operational units follow the logical path of translational research and range from the Holistic Nosology spoke to identify, classify and refine the phenotypes of multifactorial diseases, to the Intelligent Health spoke for data management and the development of advanced methods, algorithms and machine learning approaches based on artificial intelligence and machine learning for the integration of healthcare data, Prediction Models for the development of methods to support early diagnosis and personalized prognosis, 4D-Precision Diagnostics for a diagnosis “precise in space and time ” based on four-dimensional approaches that integrate clinical and imaging biomarkers, Next-Gen Therapeutics for the design and validation of innovative and personalized therapeutic strategies based on individual patient data, Healthy Toolbox for the development of innovative devices for diagnosis and precision therapies , Prevention Strategies for the development of prevention and gender medicine strategies based on integrated approaches and environmental, lifestyle and clinical biometric data, Clinical Exploitation for the clinical validation and implementation of innovative predictive precision medicine approaches , preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic, based on consolidated or emerging molecular and clinical phenotypes and on decision-making protocols guided by artificial intelligence.

“We have done great team work with all the participating subjects, not only from the point of view of the scientific approach, but also by sharing the management approach, overcoming exclusively academic or corporate logics and providing balanced governance roles between public and private subjects to guarantee the functionality of the choices”, states Andrea Pace, President of the Heal Italia Foundation. “The proposed and shared work scheme involved the identification of thematic, interdisciplinary and highly interconnected Spokes to develop solutions for classes of pathologies with high social impact such as cancer and cardiovascular, metabolic and rare diseases. This challenge requires a shared, coordinated and multi-sectoral strategy, based on a transversal research methodological chain that includes all phases, from prevention and screening to advanced diagnostics and personalized medicine, with the long-term vision of satisfying the right to every person to receive effective, personalized and sustainable health services in a homogeneous way, respecting privacy and data protection, for the benefit of the entire community”.