EU-funded project GIOTTO: The next challenge for smarT nanobiOmaterials and 3D technologies to treat osteoporotic fractures

by Lisa Bregoli, EU funding expert, Senior Project Manager, Warrant Hub S.p.A., European Funding Division

Osteoporosis is a systemic, degenerative disorder affecting more than 200 million people in the world. In osteoporotic individuals, the density and quality of bones are reduced; this reduction occurs progressively and often without symptoms. As a result, bones become weak and the risk of fracture from a fall or, in serious cases, from minor trauma dramatically increases. These so-called fragility fractures decrease the quality and lifespan of affected patients. With progressive rise in life expectancy, osteoporosis is becoming a socio-economic challenge.

Although there are valid pharmacological treatments for the reduction of the risk, surgical treatment for osteoporotic fractures is very challenging at all body sites. There is actually an unmet medical need for implants capable of improving the properties of the bone tissue surrounding them and increasing the chance to bring the fractured bone back to its form and function.

The European GIOTTO project, funded from the European Union’s research and innovation Horizon 2020 programme, is developing a platform of technologies and materials for the treatment of different types of osteoporotic fractures. Bio-fabrication techniques based on 3D printing and direct-writing electrospinning will enable device customization to match and better respond to patient specific needs and anatomy:

1) 3D graded scaffolds to treat long bone fractures;
2) fibrous scaffold to deal with small, not confined pelvic fractures;
3) radiopaque, bioresorbable, injectable cement to stabilise vertebral fractures.

Smart nano-biomaterials (mesoporous glass particles and ion doped nano-hydroxyapatites) will be combined to stimulate bone regeneration while reducing bone loss, in synergistic union with molecules able to inhibit osteoclast activity. Nano-functionalisation and smart release of active molecules will allow the systematic cell recruitment and activation needed to overcome the problem of stimulating bone regeneration in the elderly. The activation of cellular mechano-transduction, using functionalised magnetic nanoparticles and an external oscillating magnetic field, will provide a further boost to bone regeneration.
In this presentation we will provide a description of the main expected results and activities, as well as major challenges, of the GIOTTO project.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 814410.



What drives you?
3D printing is holding great promise for different applications in the medical field, and it is one of the most exciting fields of technological development nowadays.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
In this presentation we will see an example of multidisciplinary efforts at European level. Medical doctors, scientists and medical device producers from 14 organizations in 9 Countries around Europe work together to provide better treatment solutions with lower side effects to the increasing number of people suffering from painful and debilitating osteoporotic fractures. This will happen by combining 3D printing with other key enabling technologies.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
GIOTTO devices are based on the combination of cutting edge technologies in the fields of advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, biotechnology and Internet of Things (IoT).

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
The impact of 3D printing combined with other key enabling technologies has the potential to impact on increasing people wellbeing, lowering social cost of diseaeses and improving health for the ageing population.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Regulatory can represent the most relevant barrier. It is necessary that the develoment of regulation is in line with technological develoment, to avoid gaps and delays which can have a detrimental effect on investments on new technologies.

“Special quote”
The development of 3D printing technologies is holding great promise for medicine, and it is one of the most exciting fields of technological development nowadays.

About Lisa Bregoli

After 15 years as a scientist in the medical field in some of the most top-ranked institutions in EU and US, I moved to consultancy for EU funding. I currently support research teams to transform ideas into actual collaborative and high-impact projects following the research priorities set by the European Union.

About Warrant Hub S.p.A., European Funding Division

Warrant Hub SpA – Tinexta Group, is a privately held consultancy services company that provides full-spectrum consulting in business finance. Previosly named Warrant Group, it has been active since 1995, growing over the years to become a leader in its sector today. Warrant Hub Business Units work in synergy with its Innovation Lab to give their clients the best support tools for the success of their business initiatives and to assist them in the preparation and management of strategic projects: business projects, research projects, training and technology transfer activities, under National and International support frameworks.

The European Funding Division (EFD) team provides consultancy, training and support on European Funding opportunities, and in the preparation, negotiation and management of European Proposals, particularly on H2020 calls. EFD offers also support for communication and dissemination activities, and periodically participates into and organizes sectional seminars and networking events with/for industrial associations, SMEs, policy makers, etc. thus having the opportunity to disseminate the project results to relevant audiences.

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