Graduated Fellows continue working on the project proposals that came out of the program, mentored by Catalyst Europe Faculty. Fellows establish collaborations with international partners and institutions to cooperatively execute the research projects. They start and de-risk these projects to bring the innovation opportunities from an idea to implementation and impact in human healthcare. Project teams become agents of change.
An ultrasensitive screening test for malaria surveillance
Malaria has high mortality and morbidity in developing countries. Health authorities use epidemiological surveillance indicators to allocate resources to control malaria. A key indicator is the number of symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, as both sustain the transmission of parasites. These patients are identified using rapid diagnostic tests and microscopy, which fail to detect infections of less than 100 parasites/μl blood (typically asymptomatic). As a result, 30% of infections are missed and the prevalence of malaria is underestimated. This project wants to tackle this problem by developing a gold nanoparticle DNA sensor that is capable of detecting patients with low parasitemia. The test will be non-invasive and point-of-care, two features that make it optimal for surveillance campaigns.
Improving Glioma Resection
Glioma is the most frequent and malignant brain cancer in adults. The first step of glioma treatment is tumor resection. To achieve maximum safe resection, neurosurgeons rely on intraoperative guidance for assessing which brain tissue can and should be removed. Current intraoperative guidance approaches are costly, time-consuming, and/or suffer from low sensitivity. This project proposes an optical approach for rapid, non-destructive and label-free intraoperative assessment of brain tissue to enable the surgeon to identify remaining tumor more accurately than existing methods. If successful, this approach will increase the surgeon’s ability to perform tumor resection, lower the risk of leaving behind safely-removable tumor and, thus, extend the time-to-recurrence and survival of patients.
Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is an invasive diagnostic procedure to identify community acquired pneumonia (CAP). Under conscious sedation it uses a flexible bronchoscope to collect fluid sample from deep lung regions for further examination. BAL has high diagnostic value, however, it entails discomfort, possible injury leading to painful breathing. There is a need for a low-risk sample acquisition tool that provides simple access to specimens allowing high-sensitivity CAP diagnosis. The project proposes sneeze as a lung-specific biomaterial with high amount of CAP-specific biomarkers, and Sneezalyzer, an innovative sampling device that induces sneezing and retains aerosol output. The non-invasive and pain-free solution offers high diagnostic potential with improved patient safety and experience.
Surgescope has the mission to reduce the impact and outcomes of colorectal cancer in patients by harnessing free margins during tumor resection surgeries. Surgescope bridges augmented surgery and digital histopathology into a live intraoperative and collaborative suite. Through real-time observation of tumors with a fluorescence confocal laser endomicroscopy, Surgescope provides AI-powered decision-making tools for surgeons and pathologists to assess tumor markers and ensure free margins during surgery. This project proposes an optical approach for rapid, non-destructive and label-free intraoperative assessment of brain tissue to enable the surgeon to identify remaining tumor more accurately than existing methods. If successful, this approach will increase the surgeon’s ability to perform tumor resection, lower the risk of leaving behind safely-removable tumor and, thus, extend the time-to-recurrence and survival of patients.