MARVEL project – final
On 20th April 2023, MARVEL project partners (SCITEC-CNR, ITM-CNR, Istituto Cardiocentro Ticino, UniSR Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, HansaBioMed Life Sciences, Paperdrop Diagnostics SL, Amires) met for the final MARVEL meeting in Milan, Italy, hosted by the project coordinator, SCITEC-CNR. This was a unique opportunity to meet in person again and share the vast amount of experimental results obtained by the MARVEL team over the past 30 months, as well as decide further strategy for the exploitation of the developed technology.
The idea of the use of extracellular vesicles (EVs), specifically exosomes, as biomarkers, carriers, and therapeutic agents has been well demonstrated in different researches, leading to the explosion of interest in EVs in the early 21st century. Nevertheless, to be able to use EVs for clinical research or therapeutical development the EVs must be separated from multiple contaminants, often of similar size and/or density. Apart from this, a particularly arduous task is to move the isolation of specific EVs subpopulations beyond the analytical scale and towards scalable processes.
MARVEL was an ambitious, multi-actor project, gathering 6 European partners and funded by the EU’s research and innovation funding programme – Horizon 2020 for 30 months under the support of the European Innovation Council. The project started in November 2020 and finished in April 2023. For the 30 months of the project, MARVEL has implemented various approaches to overcome bottlenecks in extracellular vesicles isolation to scale up the process beyond the analytical. For this purpose, MARVEL’s team employed a new technology for reversible isolation implemented with membrane-sensing peptides. This represented a paradigm shift from antibodies to peptides as an alternative class of affinity ligands characterized by the high efficiency of extracellular vesicles capturing.
Summing up the 30 months of the project’s implementation, it is worth saying that the achieved results were perfectly aligned with the planned objectives. To achieve these objectives, the project was divided into several stages. The first stage was dedicated to the analysis of technical requirements and specifications as well as the selection of the criteria for the system demonstration. In addition to this, specific attention was given to the biological sample’s parameters, their selection, and processing.
During the second stage, a strong focus was given to the development of new affinity peptide ligands that outclass antibody-based isolation methods in terms of capturing efficiency, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. The third stage focused on the integration and optimization of the developed technology into several systems and clinical environment testing, leading to ground-breaking innovations for extracellular vesicles deployment in cardiac repair and the non-invasive diagnosis of bladder cancer. Moreover, our consortium agreed to perform additional research analysis on the characterization of the isolated extracellular vesicles. This step led to a more precise evaluation of the effectiveness of the MARVEL multifaced and versatile platform for scalable extracellular vesicles isolation.
Finally, since the MARVEL platform can be scaled to other systems, the fourth stage of the project was focused on further plans and actions for the commercial exploitation of knowledge and MARVEL technology after the project ends. Thus, the story goes on, see us soon!