IMDEA Nanociencia hosts the final workshop of the project NoCanTher: magnetic nanoparticle-based approaches towards the clinic


nocanther final meeting

The NOCANTHER consortium of has celebrated the final workshop of the project, a European project involving 12 partners from 5 countries towards the upscaling of a nanotherapy for early clinical phases of pancreatic cancer.

The meeting, attended by over 80 in-person and online attendees from 16 countries, has revised the NOCANTHER project 6-year journey, from the design of nanoparticles in the laboratory, to the evaluation of the nanoparticles in a clinical study. The workshop was celebrated jointly with the European project SAFE-N-MEDTECH, and was an excellent opportunity for networking and exchange of ideas.

The NOCANTHER project has successfully achieved the ultimate goal that was initiated over 11 years ago during the FP7 project MULTIFUN: the first patients being enrolled in a clinical study, led by the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology. The project has now officially finished, but partners continue looking forward to the results of this promising clinical study, with an eye of the application on new therapeutic avenues with locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

First patient is enrolled in the NoCanTher's clinical study


nocanther first patient

The Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) has enrolled the first patient in the NoCanTher project’s clinical trial, representing an important step in bringing in nano-driven therapeutics as novel weaponry in the current arsenal of anti-cancer technologies. Specifically, this multi-center Consortium, which launched in 2016 and is powered by eleven European partners, is leading the development of magnetic nanoparticles for the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

When exposed to a time-varying magnetic field, these nanoparticles generate hyperthermia and directly destroy tumor cells. This novel strategy, in combination with chemotherapy, aims at inactivating cancer cells and achieving tumor shrinkage. In addition, the intracellular delivery of these nanoparticles promises to reduce the adverse effects associated with chemotherapy. VHIO is the very first Spanish research center to apply this nanotechnology-based therapy at the clinical level.

“This clinical trial has been designed for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer. These tumors are not metastatic but cannot be surgically removed, and currently, the only treatment option for these patients is palliative chemotherapy. Considering that this patient population accounts for twenty per cent of all pancreatic cancer cases and that these patients have a five-year survival rate at five percent, more effective strategies must be sought and developed to improve clinical outcomes” said Teresa Macarulla, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Gastrointestinal & Endocrine Tumours Group, Medical Oncologist at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital’s Medical Oncology Department and leader of this clinical study.

Now launched with the enrolment of the first patient, this clinical study is based on the results obtained in the preclinical phase of the NoCanTher project, throughout which the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute’s (VHIR) CIBBIM-Nanomedicine Drug Delivery and Targeting Research Group, led by Ibane Abasolo, played a key role.

Specifically, this preclinical work led by VHIR and the Fuenlabrada University Hospital (Madrid, Spain), verified the efficacy of nanoparticles in animal models with implanted patient-derived pancreatic tumours that were previously induced. These studies showed that when nanoparticles are injected directly into tumors, the generated hyperthermia achieves cancer shrinkage and alters the characteristics of tumors that facilitates the direct delivery of chemotherapy. “We are now going one step further with the application of this new technology in patients, and hope that this approach will improve clinical outcomes,” added Teresea Macarulla. 

This strategy, based on magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, allows heat to be exclusively applied to the area where the nanoparticles are located —in this case, pancreatic tumours— without harming the surrounding healthy tissues. Magnetic hyperthermia, together with the administration of standard chemotherapy, can transform electromagnetic energy into heat in order to destroy tumour cells and locally control cancer growth. A magnetic field generator (NTT Generator), which has been specifically designed and developed by consortium partner Resonant Circuits Limted for the localized generation of thermal energy within tumors, is being used in this clinical study.

“This pilot study promises potential new therapeutic avenues for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, for whom there are no other treatment options available except chemotherapy,” concluded Teresa Macarulla.

Partly funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement ID: 685795, NoCanTher is coordinated by IMDEA Nanociencia (Madrid, Spain) and counts on the participation and expertise of national and international research centres: BioKeralty Research Institute (Miñano, Spain), ImmuPharma (London, England), Chemicell (Berlin, Germany), Jena University Hospital (Jena, Germany), Resonant Circuits Limited (London, England), the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR; Barcelona, Spain), the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO; Barcelona, Spain), Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Université Paris Diderot (Paris, France), and the Fuenlabrada University Hospital (Madrid, Spain). 

 Source: Vall d'Hebron Instutute of Oncology.


Download the press release from here

NoCanTher Consortium meets for its final review


final review


After 6 years of NoCanTher project, the members of the Consortium proudly smile in their last Review Meeting. 


In 2016, the EU-funded NoCanTher project was launched with the aim of bringing new nanotechnology therapeutics to the fight against pancreatic cancer.

NoCanTher aimed at translating previously developed nanoformulations to early clinical development for pancreatic cancer. These nanoformulations are based on magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles multifuntionalised with a target peptide and an anticancer chemical drug, allowing for a synergistic therapeutic effect produced by the combination of intracellular drug delivery and magnetic hyperthermia. 

In a combined effort from scientists working in several European countries, NoCanTher has developed a novel nanomedicine treatment which is now being trialled in a clinical setting – a significant milestone following 10 years’ worth of research and development.

The preclinical data showed that the therapy both reduces the volume of the tumour and boosts the impact of chemotherapy against cancer cells. The ongoing clinical study is taking place at two sites in Spain, testing the new therapy on patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer. This group accounts for around 20 % of pancreatic cancer patients, and palliative chemotherapy is usually the only treatment available.

This pilot study represents an important step forward in opening up new therapeutic avenues for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, for whom there are no other alternatives but chemotherapy. The team will now continue to collect and evaluate all the clinical data, before the therapy can be introduced into medical practice.

The NoCanTher consortium involves researchers from 11 institutions, spread across five countries: Ireland, France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Rodolfo Miranda, Director of IMDEA Nanociencia, and scientific co-coordinator of the NoCanTher project, stresses that this collaboration was key in securing regulatory approval for the clinical study.


More information: CORDIS Research Results in 6 languages 

NoCanTher enters clinical study phase

np nocanther clinical study


NoCanTher now enters its final phase with the start of a clinical study aimed at patients with unresectable, locally advanced pancreatic cancer that has not metastasized, who have palliative chemotherapy as the only therapeutic alternative. This population accounts for 20% of patients with pancreatic cancer.

This important milestone marks the culmination of over ten years of scientific work and is one of the last phases of the NoCanTher project. The study will be led from Spain and carried out at two sites - Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (Barcelona) and Hospital Universitario de Fuenlabrada (Madrid). 


Read the institutional press releases from Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology, lead of the study, and from IMDEA Nanociencia, coordinator of the project. 

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