Horizon Europe (2021 - 2027)

PEN photoporation for the genetic engineering of therapeutic mesenchymal stromal cells and T cells: Penphomet

Last update: May 23, 2024 Last update: May 23, 2024


Locations:Belgium, Netherlands, Spain
Start Date:Mar 1, 2024
End Date:Feb 28, 2027
Contract value: EUR 2,497,711
Sectors:Health, Research, Science & Innovation Health, Research, Science & Innovation
Date posted:May 23, 2024

Associated funding

Associated experts


Programme(s): HORIZON.3.1 - The European Innovation Council (EIC) 

Topic(s): HORIZON-EIC-2023-TRANSITIONCHALLENGES-01 - EIC Transition Challenge: Full scale Micro-Nano-Bio devices for medical and medical research applications

Call for proposal: HORIZON-EIC-2023-TRANSITION-01

Funding Scheme: HORIZON-EIC - HORIZON EIC Grants

Grant agreement ID: 101158879


Adoptive cell therapy has emerged as a promising strategy to treat cancer. It relies on patient-derived cells, such as T cells and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), which are genetically engineered to become better equipped to fight cancer cells. While ex vivo genetic modification of T cells and MSCs has traditionally been performed with viral vectors, they come with concerns about safety, sustainable production and high development costs. Electroporation is a non-viral alternative transfection technology, but can lead to significant gene expression changes, phenotypic alterations, and decreased therapeutic potency. Recently, photoporation with electrospun photothermal nanofibers (PEN photoporation) was demonstrated to provide a safer alternative with minimal impact on the cell’s functionality and phenotype. The technology makes use of photothermal nanofibers which, upon stimulation with laser light, can transiently permeabilize cells to allow gene-modifying effector molecules to enter the cells. Having been thoroughly demonstrated and validated in a research setting (TRL4), this project aims to bring the PEN photoporation technology to TLR6 by developing hard- and software for automated high-throughput transfections of T cells (>1B cells/h) and MSCs (>10M cells/h). The technology will be extensively tested and validated in the cGMP compliant laboratories of the project partners for the genetic engineering of T cells and MSCs. At the same time, steps will be taken to prepare for commercialization and market deployment. By the end of the project a fully automated and validated highthroughput prototype system will be available for installation at centralized cell production facilities or ready for integration in point-of-care cell manufacturing equipment. This project aligns with the Micro-Nano-Bio challenge as it combines nanotechnology with microfluidics to enhance genetically engineered cell therapy products.

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