3DSecret winner of the Pathfinder Programme by the European Innovation Council

October 13, 2022

The results of the EIC Pathfinder Open 2022 competition were released and a project coordinated by INL – International Iberian Nanotechnology is among the winners. With its Pathfinder programme, the EIC supports the exploration of bold ideas for radically new technologies. It welcomes the high-risk/high-gain and interdisciplinary cutting-edge science collaborations that underpin technological breakthroughs. 

Pathfinder goes beyond what is already known. Visionary thinking can open up promising avenues towards powerful new technologies. Of the 858 proposals received, 57 projects were financed, 8 of which were with the participation of institutions based in Portugal. Applicants participating in EIC Pathfinder projects are typically visionary scientists and entrepreneurial researchers from universities, research organisations, start-ups, high-tech SMEs or industry stakeholders interested in technological research and innovation.

Of the 8 projects approved for institutions based in Portugal, 1 is coordinated by INL – International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory – the 3DSecret. This unique project aims to tackle this challenge by looking at metastasis from a radical new perspective, a bottom-up holistic approach: from cancer single-cells to 3D spheroids.

3DSecret is coordinated by Dr Sara Abalde-Cela, a Staff Researcher at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory since 2019. She works within the Medical Devices group, and her research focuses on the development of optofluidic platforms for the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer. Mainly, she applies Raman spectroscopy as an interrogation technique to develop novel biosensors, mostly directed to the detection of single cells and metastasis underlying mechanisms.

Sarah’s team is ecstatic and eager to start applying non-conventional tools to this challenge that will certainly open a completely new line of research, which I aim to lead at the European and international levels. Decoding stochastic patterns in metastasis will be a breakthrough discovery, allowing the prediction of cell malignancy.

Institutions based in Portugal submitted 132 proposals in total, and the 11 institutions involved in the 8 approved projects raised around 5.6 million euros (reaching a proposal success rate of 6% – keeping at the level of the European average).