07 Jan 2021   |   Network Updates   |   Update from Karolinska Institutet
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Karolinska Institutet research awarded ERC Proof of Concept grant 2020 to fight lethal skin infections


KI-researcher Georgios Sotiriou has been awarded the European Research Council Proof of Concept Grant (ERC PoC) 2020. The grant is worth up to 150.000 Euro for a period of 18 months.

“This ERC Proof-of-Concept Grant is unique because it allows for the exploration of the commercial potential of our research results obtained from our ERC Starting Grant. The PoC grants are very competitive and go through rigorous screening, not only for the scientific excellence and their innovation potential, but also for their impact in terms of expected societal benefits. So it is a very nice feeling to know that our research is acknowledged in this way and we are grateful to the European Research Council for the support,” says Georgios Sotiriou, researcher at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology and Principal Investigator.

“This ERC Proof-of-Concept Grant is unique because it allows for the exploration of the commercial potential of our research results obtained from our ERC Starting Grant. The PoC grants are very competitive and go through rigorous screening, not only for the scientific excellence and their innovation potential, but also for their impact in terms of expected societal benefits. So it is a very nice feeling to know that our research is acknowledged in this way and we are grateful to the European Research Council for the support,” says Georgios Sotiriou, researcher at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology and Principal Investigator.

About the project

The project, called HOTSKIN, has the main target to develop a new medical device that can effectively fight potentially lethal skin infections, especially in patients with compromised immune system in nosocomial settings. There is an urgent need to treat such infections especially from bacteria that are resistant to drugs that are often treated with intravenous administration of potent antibiotics that may result in detrimental side-effects.

Not only does this device deliver antibiotics locally, it also weakens bacterial defences by raising local temperature (justifying the title HOTSKIN) to enhance drug effectiveness. In this manner, the need for high dosage systemic drug administration is avoided – reducing occurrence of associated side-effects and perpetuation of antimicrobial resistance. It holds the potential not only to revitalise antibacterials for topical, local treatment of skin infections, but to improve dermatological drug delivery as a platform device.

“With HOTSKIN we plan to validate the device fabrication process for additional commercial scalability and functionality with nanocarrier-drug complexes (for enhanced effectiveness of drug delivery to target site). With the help of KI Innovations Office, we also plan to develop a robust IP strategy and secure initial patents and conduct extensive market analyses and competitor landscaping. Finally, we will formulate a strong business case, and depending on the results of these activities, establish a company to bring this device to the clinics,” says Sotiriou.

The project, called HOTSKIN, has the main target to develop a new medical device that can effectively fight potentially lethal skin infections, especially in patients with compromised immune system in nosocomial settings. There is an urgent need to treat such infections especially from bacteria that are resistant to drugs that are often treated with intravenous administration of potent antibiotics that may result in detrimental side-effects.

Not only does this device deliver antibiotics locally, it also weakens bacterial defences by raising local temperature (justifying the title HOTSKIN) to enhance drug effectiveness. In this manner, the need for high dosage systemic drug administration is avoided – reducing occurrence of associated side-effects and perpetuation of antimicrobial resistance. It holds the potential not only to revitalise antibacterials for topical, local treatment of skin infections, but to improve dermatological drug delivery as a platform device.

“With HOTSKIN we plan to validate the device fabrication process for additional commercial scalability and functionality with nanocarrier-drug complexes (for enhanced effectiveness of drug delivery to target site). With the help of KI Innovations Office, we also plan to develop a robust IP strategy and secure initial patents and conduct extensive market analyses and competitor landscaping. Finally, we will formulate a strong business case, and depending on the results of these activities, establish a company to bring this device to the clinics,” says Sotiriou.

This article was first published on 7 January by Karolinska Insitutet.

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