microRNA biomarkers in an innovative biophotonic sensor kit for high-specific diagnosis

This collaborative project is funded under Horizon 2020 – Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (MSCA-RISE) and by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

Since the discovery of human microRNAs (miRNAs) in 2001, progress in genomics and transcriptomics has increased our comprehension of the role of miRNAs in gene expression regulation. MiRNAs are small, noncoding RNA molecules that are promising to serve as clinical biomarkers and diagnostic tools for illness and disease, as significant changes in their expression occur in response to pathological states. However, miRNA detection is still challenging nowadays, since costly, complex sample preparations and RNA amplifications are not yet reliable enough for clinical decision making. In this context, three innovative EU companies, Optoi Microelectronics (with microelectronic knowhow and manufacturing skills), DestiNA Genomics (with ‘error free’ chemical technology for microRNAs recognition) and geneXplain (with bioinformatic capabilities) joined forces with four key academic research groups from the Universities of Trento (Italy), Granada (Spain), Hannover Medical School (Germany) and Santa Catarina (Brazil). The parties combined their knowledge on miRNA biomarkers with a particular focus on lung cancer, to develop a novel and reliable miRNA detection system for this disease. To this end, research collaborations will address the analysis of miRNAs specifically over-expressed in lung cancer, continuing experimental work already started in the past years, but with greater integration and focus.

GeneXplain’s contribution to the project:

Task 1.4 Promoter and pathway analysis of miRNA profiles [GENEXPLAIN: M12-M36]. miRNA expression profiles will be analysed with promoter analysis and pathway analysis tools. Mechanism-based prioritization of miRNA differentially expressed between AD and SCC will be done.

Task 6.1 IPR [OPTOI, DESTINA and GNX; M1-M48] In compliance with the Consortium Agreement will be established a strategy framework for the treatment of IP generated within the project. Projects results will be periodically reviewed, assessed and reported to implement the strategy for protection and/or publication.

Task 6.2 Exploitation plan [OPTOI, DESTINA and GNX] Projects results will be assessed and reported to draft a exploitation/commercialization plans & strategy, after appropriate protection where applicable.

Task 6.4 Outreach and communication [OPTOI and GNX; M1-M48] Supervision and coordination of planned dissemination and outreach activities. All partners will promote outreach events and activities to communicate the project to the public (§3.3). All seconded participants will take part to outreach activities within the hosting institution related initiatives for communication of the project mission and objectives, and, where relevant, of project outcomes.

Further information

Project description on the Eurostars server

Homepage of the project


Contract no.


Contract period

2015-12-01 to 2019-11-30


The project is coordinated by Optoelettronica Italia SRL (OPTOI), Gardolo (TN), Italy

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