POLYTHEA: how light can save lives

The University of Limoges coordinates the POLYTHEA project, a Marie Curie Innovative Training Network – European Joint Doctorate. It is a training network for young researchers in the field of photodynamic treatments. The goal is to develop new active compounds that can efficiently fight microbial infections and cancer, two main challenges for food security and human health.  

POLYTHEA – Design and photo-optimization of photosensitizers for human health and food security applications – or “How light can save lives” – is a network of 6 universities, 1 SME and 5 partner organizations.

The development of active compounds that can efficiently fight microbial infections and cancer are of upmost importance for food security and human health, two main challenges for Europe. Tetrapyrrolic photosensitizers (PS) are good candidates to meet these expectations. These photo-excitable molecules induce cell death via the formation of oxygen reactive species (ROS) and present very low toxicity in the absence of light. They are already used in photodynamic therapy (PDT) for cancer or skin disease treatments or in photo-antimicrobial chemo-therapy (PACT). Unfortunately, the research and training are still largely fragmented in this field in Europe. Some scientific barriers have to be overcome to increase their efficacy, e.g. improvement of the excitation pathways, ROS production, specific cell targeting, Gram (-) bactericidal effect and prevention and/or eradication of biofilms.

The Polythea consortium proposes to develop:

New tetrapyrrolic PS for various types of PDT including anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune-activating application, improving their photophysical and biological properties;
Innovative bio-inspired drug carriers or supports.
Through 10 PhD fellowships.

In parallel, a joint doctorate structure gathering 5 countries will be created and a multidisciplinary and inter-sectorial training program will be implemented through network events and secondments to non-academic partners.

It will provide a common background on PDT to the ESRs and make them more valuable employees, effective at problem solving.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement n°764837.

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