The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) states that more than four million EU patients get healthcare-associated infections every year, resulting in 37,000 deaths annually. An overwhelming proportion of those infections are caused by microbial biofilms in medical devices.
For finding out solutions for the problem, the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, has been granted a new European Training network called PRINT-AID. The EU funding for the network lasts for four years and is altogether 2.3 million euros.
"Our aim is to proof the value of developing a new generation of safer 3D printed personalised medical devices with antimicrobial functionalities. We are going to use investigational drugs which inhibit bacterial colonisation or kill bacteria. These compounds will be incorporated in the medical device structure itself during the 3D printing process and they are expected to be released from there during a longer period of time. By using 3D printing, we can also customise the devices to fit the needs of the patients. The chances of this project to provide a safer alternative for pharma devices are really significant," says project coordinator, Docent Adyary Fallarero from the Faculty of Pharmacy.
In the project, state-of-the-art printing technologies will be combined with new in vitro and in vivo biofilm models as well as new tools for data integration and standardisation.
More opportunities for young researchers
The project also intends to inspire young researchers to explore innovative routes to counteract microbial biofilms. At the moment, the opportunities for young researchers to receive a structured, inter-sectoral and up-to-date education on personalized medicine and medical devices in Europe are marginal. PRINT-AID will be the first European Training Network set up for this purpose.
"We bring together the leaders of their own areas in the personalised medicine and medical devices sector. The students have an opportunity to work both in the collaborating companies and in academia”.
Docent Fallarero will coordinate the efforts of the whole network. She will be supported by Director of Training, Professor Pia Vuorela and Project Manager, Dr. Karita Peltonen. The funding for the project comes from the MARIE Skłodowska-CURIE ACTIONS (Horizon 2020).
PRINT-AID European training network members, academic:
- Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland
- University of Ghent, Belgium
- University of Antwerp, Belgium
- Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
- Academic Medical Center, Netherlands
- University of Porto, Portugal
PRINT-AID European training network members, companies:
- Voxdale, Belgium
- Aptuit, Italy
- Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University. U.S.A
- Biosurface Technologies corp., U.SA.
- Madam Therapeutics BV, Netherlands
- 3DTech Oy, Finland
Docent Fallarero leads the Pharmaceutical Design and Discovery group (PharmDD) within the new Drug Research Program (DRP) of the Faculty of Pharmacy (2015–2020) and her research focuses on developing novel strategies to counteract microbial biofilm infections.