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PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme sets out to substantially change the European landscape for novel and emerging medical radionuclides

Nuclear therapy and molecular imaging are widely used at hospitals for new promising medical procedures. They can drastically improve the outcome for many medical conditions, and enables treating disseminated cancer in particular. However, its effective development has long been limited by the difficult access to radionuclides not yet commercially available. With PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme, this is about to change.

In nuclear medicine, a radioactive substance is introduced into a patient and finds its way to specific biological targets in the body. Depending on the radioactive properties of the radioisotope, it may emit radiation that can be detected with external detectors to visualise the distribution of the isotopes (SPECT, PET imaging); alternatively, it may emit charged particles like α or β- particles which deposit their energy locally (within μm to a few mm, namely from the size of a cell to the size of a metastasis), thereby only destroying cells located nearby, e.g. to treat a cancer with targeted radionuclide therapy (TRNT). Out of the more than 3,000 different radioisotopes that scientists have synthesised in the laboratory, only a handful are regularly used for medical procedures, mostly for imaging, though the interest in TRNT has been growing in the last few years as illustrated with the marketing of Lutathera® to treat advanced prostate cancer. One of the main limits to the development of novel radio-medicinal products is the access to radionuclides during the development and early biomedical research phases. Within PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme, we aim at enabling this development phase by providing access to novel radioisotopes of high purity grade for medical research.

Production of radioisotopes

The radioactive elements that are used in nuclear medicine are not available naturally and must be synthesised in the laboratory. There are two main paths: neutron irradiation in a nuclear research reactor or proton or alpha irradiation with a particle accelerator. The size and energy of the particle accelerator determines which radioisotope can be produced: small, compact machines are found in many hospitals, providing access to the radioisotopes used today. However, higher-energy machines are needed to produce novel radioisotopes currently not available.

Purification of radioisotopes

When producing those novel radioisotopes, new challenges appear: the co-production of unwanted radioactivity which affects the quality of the medicinal product, may induce adverse effects to a patient, and can cause serious difficulties to waste management in a hospital environment. As such, novel purification techniques are required. Within PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme, we shall develop techniques based on physical mass separation and radiochemistry to achieve high purity radioisotope production that is appropriate for medicinal products.

Access and translational research

In order to support the ongoing research across Europe and beyond, immediate access to novel radioisotopes will be provided by PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme. A single-access platform will be established via the PRISMAP website where the production and support capabilities will be presented.

A network of world-leading, European facilities, including nuclear reactors, medium- and high-energy accelerators, and radiochemical laboratories, has been established to offer the broadest catalogue of radioisotopes for medical research. Mass separation is available at the CERN MEDICIS facility to provide the physical separation of isotopes of an element. This is completed by a network of biomedical research facilities who may host external researchers to perform their research close to the production facility when the isotopes are not suitable for long transport to their institution, or when the European licensing for novel radioisotopes has not yet been obtained.

Access to radioisotopes and associated facilities will be granted on an excellence selection basis, by applying for access to radioisotopes and, if necessary, to the complementary biomedical facilities, via the the online access platform. A selection panel consisting of experts in the fields of radioisotope production, molecular imaging and radionuclide therapy will select the best projects from the applicants. The first call for proposals will be launched before the end of 2021 for applications in the first quarter of 2022. It will be open to any interested party.

Looking towards the future

In the fast-evolving landscape around nuclear medicine, PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme is also turned towards the future. The European Commission has expressed its commitment to tackle societal impact on cancer through the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and in particular the SAMIRA Action Plan unveiled earlier this year, including the establishment of a European Radioisotope Valley Initiative. Through the PRISMAP consortium of 23 academic and research institutions across Europe, development towards the upscaling of the production of these novel radioisotopes will be investigated, in the form of novel production technology, new purification methods, and proof-of-concept investigations showing the development of new treatments from test bench to patient care, directly feeding this European-wide plan.

As a consortium serving a starting researcher’s community, we are looking to become a more established community and to welcome new facilities to enlarge our capabilities. Novel facilities are on the horizon, such as the Jules Horowitz Reactor in CEA Cadarache (France), the ISOL@MYRRHA mass separator facility at SCK CEN (Belgium), the new SPES accelerator complex in the INFN’s Legnaro National Laboratories (Italy), the European Spallation Source in Lund (Sweden), and finally both the new SPIRAL2 facility at GANIL (France) that has recently accelerated its first beams and the FAIR facility in GSI (Germany) which construction is progressing. Those new facilities will directly benefit from the findings within PRISMAP towards increasing the production capacity across Europe.

New data will be generated and compiled towards the immediate and smooth adoption of the novel radioisotopes in medical environments though collaboration between research hospitals and metrology institutes (e.g. the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, UK). All the new findings will be used towards creating new teaching material for professionals in the various fields of this multi-disciplinary domain, as well as for training the next generation of professionals and advising the European Commission on these emerging radioisotopes.

Nuclear medicine research is a truly multidisciplinary approach, and to move forward, we need to build bridges between physicists, engineers, radiochemists, inorganic chemists, structural biologists, clinicians, medical physicists, dosimetrists, pharmacologists, and oncologists. PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme, will certainly support the implementation of a multidisciplinary working concept in practice.

For more info on PRISMAP, please visit the PRISMAP website at https://www.prismap.eu.

PRISMAP has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101008571 (PRISMAP – The European medical radionuclides programme).

Breaking News

EIC Sum­mit 2022

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Summit brings together deep-tech start-ups, researchers, investors, policymakers and corporate players to network and exchange on innovation challenges, practical tips and tricks, and other challenges related to innovation in Europe.

This second edition of the EIC Summit will be held in Brussels on 07-08 December 2022.

Save the date and stay tuned to the EIC website: registration for live participation is coming very soon!

Sources: EIC, Euresearch

HEI Ini­ti­at­ive: Third Call just Launched

The Higher Education Initiative (HEI) "Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education" is a joint European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Community activity. The initiative aims to support higher education institutions with expertise and coaching, access to the EIT innovation ecosystem, and funding. After two successful HEI calls during 2022, the third call was launched on 15 September 2022, with a tentative deadline set on 15 November 2022.

Participation from Switzerland is possible.

Find out more on the HEI website!

Sources: EIT HEI, Euresearch

EIT Health: First Flagships Call now Open

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Flagships Call, which is now open, focuses on some of the top health priorities, including cross-pillar activities for:

  • New models to deliver healthcare,
  • Facilitating the uptake of digital medical devices in Europe,
  • Harnessing the full potential of health data for innovation.

This call aims to get the most benefit for innovators in Europe, incl. start-ups, healthcare providers, research bodies, regional/national/international policy bodies or institutions etc.

Participants from Switzerland are eligible to participate and if successfully evaluated and selected can apply for national funding.

The call document is available for download here, and all relevant information regarding scope of the call, thematic focus, how find partners, eligibility, the application process, deadlines and evaluation criteria is available on the call website.

In addition, an EIT webinar will be organised on 5 October 2022 at 9:30 CET, that will focus on specific flagship activities.

Sources: EIT, Euresearch

Horizon Europe Call Matchmaking in Biomedical Engineering

If you are looking for partners for the next Horizon Europe calls 2023-2024, you are invited to attend the matchmaking event, that will take place on 27 September 2022 after the BioNanoNet Annual Forum, and on 28 September 2022 during the BMT Conference in Hall and Innsbruck, Austria.

This event targets Clusters 1, 4, 5 & Mission Cancer in the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023/24.

All events are on-site, but those who cannot attend live can still register to benefit from the networking and matchmaking opportunities provided by the online platform, which will be available for 6 months following the events.

More information and registration link are available here.

Sources: BMT, BNN, Euresearch

MSCA Postdoc­tor­al Fel­low­ship Hand­book

MSCA-NET, the EU-funded project of National Contact Points for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), has prepared and released a handbook intended to assist and support in an unofficial and practical way anyone submitting a proposal to the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship call with a deadline on 14 September.

This document is available for download here.

Sources: MSCA, Euresearch

From Lab to Market - the EIT at the European Research and Innovation Days 2022

The European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) will take part in the European Research and Innovation Days, which is the European Commission’s annual flagship Research and Innovation event, bringing together policymakers, researchers, entrepreneurs and the public to debate and shape the future of research and innovation in Europe and beyond.

Check out and register to the EIT session "From lab to market – connecting research, technology and innovation" on 29 September at 11:00 CEST, Channel 3.

This session will look at the complementary support provided by the ERC, EIC and the EIT to ensure that researchers, entrepreneurs and investors have the appropriate ecosystem to turn Europe into an innovation hotspot.

Sources: EIT, EC, Euresearch

Swiss Participation in ERC Starting Grant 2023

The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) recommends that researchers in Switzerland to prepare their submissions for the ERC Starting Grant (ERC StG) 2023. The deadline is set on 25 October 2022.

If Swiss-based researchers are still not eligible at the deadline, the Federal Council will propose funds for a corresponding transitional measure and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) will open an integrative call for proposals in November 2022 in the form of the “SNSF Starting Grants 2023”.

Read the SERI updated factsheet for more information.

Sources: SERI, Euresearch

ERC Synergy 2023 Call Now Open and Info Event

The European Research Council - ERC Synergy grant call for 2023 is now open, with a deadline set on 8 November 2022. Information for applicants, conditions, evaluation process and more are available here.

Researchers based in Switzerland are currently eligible to apply for an ERC Synergy Grant as part of a team of 2-4 Principal Investigators who would join forces to address ambitious research questions. Up to €10 million of funding can be requested per project.

Euresearch will hold an ERC Synergy National Information Event on 20 September 2022, online from 11:30-13:30. Principles and conditions of the Synergy Grant will be explained by Dr. Agnes Kulcsar, who coordinates the ERC call and its evaluation. Researchers who have successfully applied for a Synergy Grant in the past will also be part of a panel discussion. For more information and registration, see the Euresearch website.

Sources: ERC, Euresearch

ERC 2023 Work Programme Now Published

The annual Work Programme for the European Research Council (ERC) funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation has just been published for 2023.

The Work Programme includes dates, deadlines, and conditions and regulations for upcoming calls, and is available for download here.

For Swiss-based researchers, the most relevant information is related to the ERC Synergy call which should open on 13 July with a deadline set on 8 November 2022. The Swiss Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is still working toward association to Horizon Europe: check out the SERI's website regularly for updates which will impact eligibility for ERC calls.

Sources: ERC, Euresearch

Innovative Health Initiative Launches 2 Calls for Proposals

The Innovative Health Initiative IHI call 1 is a single-stage call with four topics covering research and innovation actions on cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and health data. Information on the topics and the call conditions are available on the IHI website.

The IHI call 2 is a two-stage call with two different topics on cardiovascular disease and early feasibility studies. Learn more here.

The deadline for proposals is set on 20 September 2022.

If you are looking for partners to build a consortium to one of the topics in the two open calls, then register on the brokerage event webpage and search the potential partners. The brokerage is open until 15 July 2022.

Sources: Euresearch, IHI

EIT Higher Education Initiative Call

Results of the second call for proposals of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Higher Education Initiative (HEI) have been published! In total, 56 applications from an impressive total of 683 organisations, including 311 higher education institutions (HEIs) and 372 non-academic organisations have been submitted.

After careful evaluation by a panel of independent experts, 26 applications have been selected: visit the EIT HEI Initiative website for more information about each funded project.

The next call for proposals will be launched towards the end of 2022. In preparation of the call, EIT RawMaterials will organise an information event as part of the INNOVEIT Weeks 2022. The hybrid event (Stockholm or online) will be held on 15 September 2022 and will cover three main topics:

  • Best practices and methodologies from the EIT’s HEI Initiative for increasing the innovation capacity of HEIs;
  • Building effective, sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship courses for the 21st century;
  • Fostering T-shaped students in deep tech.

More information about this event, incl. registration link, is available here.

Sources: EIT, Euresearch

Swiss Participation in EU Doctoral Network

The Doctoral Network Call 2022 of the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions is open with a deadline on 15 November 2022 (see the call here).

Swiss institutions can participate as associated partners. Doctoral candidates employed by Swiss host institutions can be added on top of the European contribution as long as Switzerland is not reclassified by the European Commission as a ‘country to be associated’ before the call deadline.

Check out the latest Euresearch factsheet on "MSCA Doctoral Networks for Swiss participants - Swiss-based doctoral candidates on top of EU contribution".

Source: Euresearch

European Innovation Council - EIC Pathfinder Challenges Applicants' Day

This applicants' event will explain and clarifying the scope of the European Innovation Council - EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2022 and the application process.

The half-day event will take place fully online on 5 July 2022. During the event, specific break out sessions will be held according to the scope of one of the six Pathfinder Challenges:

Environment & Energy:

  • Carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation
  • Mid to long term and systems integrated energy storage

    Health:

    • Cardiogenomics
    • DNA-based digital data storage
    • Towards the Healthcare Continuum: technologies to support a radical shift from episodic to continuous healthcare

    Quantum technologies:

    • Alternative approaches to Quantum Information Processing, Communication, and Sensing

    Registration and further information here.

    Sources: EIC, Euresearch

    Swiss Participation in Horizon Europe

    Although Switzerland is still a non-associated country, Swiss-based entities can participate in collaborative projects in Horizon Europe as 'associated partners'. This means they can lead work packages and have an active role in project management.

    The budget for the Swiss partner is covered by the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).

    Check out the latest Euresearch factsheet on Swiss eligibility and participation in Horizon Europe. You can also visit the Euresearch website for more information about Swiss status as well as information about an associated partner's role.

    Source: Euresearch

    Registration Open for the European Research and Innovation Days 2022

    European Research and Innovation Days is the European Commission’s annual flagship Research and Innovation event, bringing together policymakers, researchers, entrepreneurs and the public to debate and shape new solutions to strengthen Europe’s resilience and its strategic autonomy in terms of research and innovation.

    Registration is now open for this online event, which will be held on 28 and 29 September 2022.

    Registration link, programme and more info are available here.

    Sources: Euresearch, EC

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