Three out of six national projects awarded by the CaixaImpulse Health Innovation Call 2023 are led by LS4FUTURE researchers


The 2023 call of the new CaixaImpulse Innovation Program has awarded €49K to each of three LS4FUTURE members, Ana Pina and Mónica Serrano, researchers at ITQB NOVA, and Guadalupe Cabral, researcher at NOVA Medical School. The program aims to support the transfer of research knowledge from innovative biomedical projects to society and the market by providing financial support and guidance through mentoring and training. 

The project coordinated by Ana Pina aims to develop ultra-thin, flexible, lightweight, and biocompatible biological batteries to power electronic skin (e-skin) devices based on collagen-like materials and flexible microelectronics, overcoming traditional energy sources. Project findings will advance e-skin technology and help in the detection of diseases, the application of medical treatments, and, in general, better control of people’s health. The project will be conducted in a consortium with Felipe Conzuelo, also from ITQB NOVA, and researchers from the Unidade de Ciências Biomoleculares Aplicadas and the Centro de Investigação de Materiais of the NOVA School of Science and Technology, and the LS4FUTURE partner Gulbenkian Science Institute (IGC).  

Monica Serrano´s project, developed in collaboration with ITQB NOVA’s PIs Adriano O. Henriques and Catarina Pimentel, focuses on developing a cheaper, faster, and more versatile diagnostic method for pathogen detection than current PCR tests. It will be based on the nucleic acid amplification method previously developed by the team for COVID-19 tests, combined with a nanoplatform-based technology using proteins from bacterial spores. Due to the lack of need for highly qualified technicians and the use of spores resistant to high temperatures, this innovative method could be implemented in low-resource settings. As a result, the project team aims to improve population access to these diagnostic tests. 

The project led by Guadalupe Cabral, co-funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, will investigate the potential of a new subset of neutrophils, which is prevalent in patients with metastatic breast cancer, as a biomarker for predicting breast cancer progression and response to treatments such as current immunotherapies. In addition, the project will explore the role of this cell type as a therapeutic target that can serve as an adjuvant to maximize response to new immunotherapeutic strategies. In this way, the multidisciplinary research team hopes to help patients with this type of cancer to receive more efficient treatments and minimize toxicity and waste of resources associated with unnecessary therapeutics. 

The CaixaImpulse Health Innovation Call 2023 has awarded a total of €3.3M to 29 health innovation projects. Since the program was extended to Portugal, the “la Caixa” Foundation and BPI have allocated €2.3M to a total of 23 projects, which have so far resulted in the creation of three national spin-offs.