Editorial Feature

EU's Project Phoenix is Helping Nanopharmaceuticals Take Flight

A novel nanomedicine initiative, Project Phoenix, has been funded by the EU’s Horizon2020 Framework Programme, which comprises 11 project partners from academia and industry within Europe.


Image Credit: Fahroni/Shutterstock.com

Project Phoenix is based on advancing nanopharmaceuticals with the aim to create an ‘Open Innovation Test Bed’ (OITB) for this novel area of nanomedicine. It is coordinated by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).

What are Nanopharmaceuticals?

Nanopharmaceuticals consist of drugs that involve a medical application of nanotechnology, encompassed in the field of nanomedicine.

These products can include targeted drug delivery systems that work intrinsically as therapeutic agents or be used as carriers for delivering active drugs into specific target areas within the human body. Examples of nanostructures that have been marketed comprise lipid-based nanoparticles, liposomes, nanocrystals, as well as metal nanomaterials like gold nanoparticles.

While nanomedicines have been researched ardently, the commercialization of these products has been slow compared to non-nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems. However, this may limit the advancement of medicine and drug delivery due to nanopharmaceuticals providing innovative solutions that could solve some obstacles conventional drug delivery systems face.

The use of nanoparticles within drug delivery systems can have many benefits due to their nanoscale size, which can enable enhanced interaction with biological systems and lead to higher targeting of tissues. Additionally, the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect of nanoparticles can enable passive targeting as well as an accumulation of the drug into cancerous target areas.

The surface functionalization of nanoparticles is also a significant benefit as ligands can be added to the surface of the nanocarrier to further enhance the targetability of diseased tissues and cells.

Project Phoenix

The aim to further develop nanopharmaceuticals has been a major undertaking for Project Phoenix, which is headed and coordinated by Dr. Tommaso Serchi at LIST. The nanopharmaceutical project aims to provide comprehensive support for the entrance of nanopharmaceuticals into the market; this comprises a wide range of services, from bench to bedside, from laboratory to industrial scale.

Specifically, this can include processes that aid with development, testing, and safety, to scaling and commercializing products. The commercialization of these products also includes connections to interested buyers and users, including research laboratories.

Additionally, the support of this project by MyBiotech consists of scientific coordination through Dr. Nazende Günday-Türeli to bring success to this collaborative innovation. The project started in March 2021 with a duration of 48 months and a budget of €14.450 million, as well as an EU contribution request of €11.1 million.

The collaborative efforts of this project also include 11 partners across Europe from both academia and industrial backgrounds, consisting of (i) LIST as the project coordinator, (ii) MyBiotech, as the project scientific coordinator, (iii) Nanomol Technologies SL, (iv) LeanBio SL, (v) BioNanoNet Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (vi) Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior Deinvestigaciones Científicas, (vii) Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, (viii) Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH, (ix) Cenya Imaging BV, (x) Topas Therapeutics GmbH, (xi) Grace Bio SL.

Project Phoenix aims to use current good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to produce nanopharmaceuticals on a larger scale to take this nanomedicine technology from the laboratory to being available for patients, through a regulatory-based Open Innovation Test Bed.

Jesús Martínez de la Fuente, an INMA-CSIC-UNIZAR researcher, has stated that their “goal is to create a new infrastructure at European level available for all research centres and laboratories, SMEs and start-ups, to facilitate the transfer of nano-pharmaceuticals from the lab to the clinical practice.”

Additionally, “the role of INMA and ICMAB is to generate new services, open to the public, to characterize nano-pharmaceuticals in order to ensure their quality” commented Nora Ventosa, an ICMAB-CSIC researcher.

Future Outlook

The impact of Project Phoenix may be revolutionary for nanopharmaceuticals, with promising solutions for the challenges faced by the EU nanomedicine market, such as a lack of resources preventing GMP manufacturing, upscaling and obstacles in the production of nanopharmaceuticals.

The objectives of Project Phoenix are to provide an accessible and affordable OITB for small and medium enterprises, start-ups and research laboratories that wish to scale up and test nanopharmaceuticals.

Such a collaborative effort embedded with safety evaluations, guidance, and a commercialization boost, may be able to advance nanopharmaceuticals into the nanomedicine market with more speed than traditional approaches that depend on any one single company.

With the same goal in mind, Project Phoenix may be more effective for the advancement of the nanomedicine field as a whole, ensuring that safe patient care is being prioritized.

Collaborative efforts are designed to increase efficiency and effective research, leading to faster developments and clinical trials to take innovative nanopharmaceutical drugs from bench to bedside, increasing global patient care. 

What is Nanobiotechnology Used For?

References and Further Reading

EU launches nano-pharmaceutical project: Phoenix | data.europa.eu. Data.europa.eu. https://data.europa.eu/en/news/eu-launches-nano-pharmaceutical-project-phoenix.

Farjadian F., et al. (2019) Nanopharmaceuticals and nanomedicines currently on the market: challenges and opportunities. Nanomedicine, 14(1), pp. 93-126. https://doi.org/10.2217/nnm-2018-0120

Icmab.es. https://icmab.es/images/press/2021/20210325-NdP_ICMAB-PHOENIX-ENG.pdf.

(LIST) L. Launch of Cross-Europe nano-pharmaceutical project ‘Phoenix’ coordinated in Luxembourg at LIST. List.lu. https://www.list.lu/en/news/lancement-du-projet-nano-pharmaceutique-europeen-phoenix-coordonne-par-le-list-au-luxembourg-1/

Launch of Cross-Europe nano-pharmaceutical project "PHOENIX" coordinated in Luxembourg - researchluxembourg. researchluxembourg. https://www.researchluxembourg.org/en/launch-of-cross-europe-nano-pharmaceutical-project-phoenix-coordinated-in-luxembourg/

Nano2clinic.eu. https://www.nano2clinic.eu/sites/default/files/downloads/PHOENIX%20-%20Press%20release%20for%20Project%20Start.pdf.

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Marzia Khan

Written by

Marzia Khan

Marzia Khan is a lover of scientific research and innovation. She immerses herself in literature and novel therapeutics which she does through her position on the Royal Free Ethical Review Board. Marzia has a MSc in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine as well as a BSc in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently working in the NHS and is engaging in a scientific innovation program.


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