The Murcia team of NANEMIAR presents the project in the EUROPEAN CONNECTION program of the Onda Regional

European Connection of the Onda Regional (Murcia, Spain) is the program to establish contact with the European Union, but especially with European projects to increase the visibility of projects, which are carried out in the region of Murcia thanks to the cohesion work carried out by the different institutions with European funding.

On 2nd of  May  2024, Teresa Allepuz invited Ana Belén Pérez Oliva, principal researcher and coordinator of the NANEMIAR project; Eduardo José Salido Fiérrez, head of the Hematology Section of the Virgen de la Arrixaca Hospital; and Hana Hukelová, head of the International Biosanitary Projects Office of the FFIS / IMIB to tell the details of this European project.

NANEMIAR is a project within the framework of the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Framework Program (Health cluster) that is developed collaboratively between three partners (Holland, France and Spain) and in Spain it is carried out by the FFIS/IMIB Pascual Parilla.

Ana Belén Pérez: The project was born from the need for a treatment for patients who have a serious health problem, severe anemia, which cannot be cured by ingesting iron or by giving the child a steak or lentils. The problem is that they need periodic transfusions during their entire lives. From there started the idea of an alternative to this type of treatment and with partners from Holland and France this project was generated, which consists of using nanoparticles to try to restore deficient proteins in these patients. Patients lack proteins that the normal population has and what we do is try to re-express them so that they can achieve normal production of red blood cells. So the French partner has an animal model of the disease and we have the patients thanks to Dr. Eduardo Salido and the Hematology service of the Virgen de la Arrixaca Hospital.

From what we understand, the goal is to have some kind of medicine that can help patients.

Ana Belén Pérez: Indeed, that would be the last goal. It is a very pre-clinical project, we are in a very initial phase. As I mentioned, we have a mouse model, so we are in a study before the clinic, but we have great clinicians like Eduard, who also has contacts throughout whole Spain. Therefore, the idea is, if the results are as expected, to expand the patient cohort with the rest of the Spanish hospitals and reach a clinical trial later.

You kicked it off at the end of November last year, right?

Ana Belén Pérez: Yes, in October specifically, the project began at the beginning of October and is expected to finish at the end of September 2026.

And what is the day-to-day life at the clinic? We would like to know what the situation of the patients is and what the casuistry they face is.

Eduardo Salido: I started collaborating with Ana Belén a few years ago and all of this is fundamentally due to her. One day she approached me and the Hematology service, we did not know each other and she asked us, ...Well, look, I am working on this, we have done this research, how we could help you, and that is very appreciated. We have a series of patients who fall into what we call rare diseases. There we would also include patients with congenital anemias, which in turn encompasses, well, an infinite number of rare diseases, difficult to diagnose, poorly known, and that we hematologists themselves have never really emphasized much throughout our lives in this type of diseases. We perhaps focus more on what other diseases are within hematology. And well, what we do for these patients with severe anemia is transfuse them, and there are no treatments that are effective in these patients. Now they are beginning to see research, they are beginning to see clinical trials and we, as I say, thanks to Ana Belén, proposed an innovative idea, a completely different approach, very original to those that currently exist, including gene therapy. This is a different thing, now Europe granted us this project and we will see how we progress. Right now these patients fall into what are rare diseases. There are few patients.

How many would there be, to give us an idea?

Eduardo Salido: Unfortunately there is no reliable registry to say exactly the number of patients we have. In addition, it encompasses some diseases within congenital anemias: we have thalassemic patients, severe, less severe, some are transfused, others are not transfused, but they continue to have complications, falciform anemias, hemoglobinopathies, enzyme deficiency, that is,... It is a range of pathologies very diverse. And it is very distributed – we are run by hematologists and paediatricians, and there are also regional patients. It is difficult to know exactly the patients we have in Murcia. But in Hospital Virgen de la Arrixaca between the Hematology Service and the Pediatric Hematology Service, we can safely have about 50 patients and perhaps in Murcia it will be double that.

Listen to the full interview here (Spanish):

Source: Onda Regional

"NANEMIAR project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them."