Biosensor for diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and Biofertilizer based on potato peel win Amyris Innovation Awards

Friday, November 18, 2022 - 12:04

The winning projects of the 2nd edition of the Amyris Innovation BIG Impact Awards are already known. The Amyris BIG Impact Innovation Award was awarded to the BrainSense project, which developed a biosensor for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The Rising Innovation Award was given to the HydroPLUS project, which developed a biofertilizer based on potato skins. The announcement was made at the “Biotechnology Innovation Forum: Think Big in Biotechnology”, an event organized by Católica Porto Alumni Biotecnologia and by the Faculty of Biotechnology of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

“The two projects were distinguished for developing deeptech ideas in the sector of biosensors for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and biofertilizers for the agriculture sector,” points out Hugo Choupina, from Católica Porto Alumni Biotecnologia, member of the organization of FIB 2022. Ana Leite Oliveira, researcher at the CBQF and member of the organization of the event, adds “we are in the era of biological innovation that will necessarily have to go through an ever greater sensitivity and responsibility in what is economic, technological and mainly societal sustainability”.

In the "BIG Impact Innovation Award" category, the winning project was BrainSense, coordinated by Inês Mendes Pinto, researcher at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health at the University of Porto (i3S). BrainSense intends to develop the multiplexed detection of a panel of molecular biomarkers relevant to the disease of multiple sclerosis, from a blood or saliva collection through a finger prick. This subsequent analysis through an Artificial Intelligence driven risk algorithm will allow society and the national health service to reduce the costs of disease detection.

"The Amyris BIG Impact Award represents the opportunity to advance BrainSense technology for clinical validation for personalized diagnosis and monitoring of neurodegenerative diseases, mainly multiple sclerosis, which is currently achieved through conventional invasive methods", points out Inês Mendes Pinto, researcher at i3S "Clinical validation means moving the technology into the regulatory in vitro diagnostic device archive and greater market availability," he concludes.

The "Rising Innovation Award" was awarded to the HydroPLUS project, by a team consisting of Helena Moreira, Sofia Pereira and Alessandra Ribeiro, researchers from the CBQF. The objective is to develop a new superabsorbent biodegradable hydrogel based on potato peel, a relevant waste from the food industry that includes beneficial microorganisms, namely plant growth-promoting bacteria and fungi. The potato peel-based polymer will serve as an effective and protective carrier for microorganisms, prolonging the life of the product, which in turn will favor slow release into the soil. “HydroPLUS thus meets the needs of the new paradigm of regenerative agriculture and aims to improve crop growth, currently filling a commercial gap in the biofertilizer market,” says Helena Moreira, project coordinator. "This award will help us to develop our idea and put it into practice. It is also a recognition of all the work we have done in recent years focused on more resilient and sustainable agricultural systems. HydroPLUS will help farmers to face the challenges of the agricultural sector due to climate change, namely water scarcity and the decline of soil fertility", adds the researcher.

Anabela Veiga, from Católica Porto Alumni Biotechnology, recognizes that “this edition of the Amyris Big Impact Award 2022 reinforced the importance of accelerating bio-innovation through a disruptive approach in the biotechnology sector”, adding “we are already preparing the 2023 edition which will take place on November 11, 2023”.

The contest “Amyris Innovation BIG Impact Award” is now in its 2nd edition and is promoted by the company Amyris Inc and the Faculty of Biotechnology of Universidade Católica Portuguesa. The main objective of this competition is to award the best projects in the area of ​​biotechnology and the promotion of innovation in Biotechnology as a fundamental engine of economic development. It also aims to promote new processes, technologies or services that are both marketable and sustainable, with a great positive and measurable impact on society.

The 4th edition of “FIB: Think Big in Biotechnology”, which took place on November 12, had more than 200 participants. The next edition has already been scheduled and will take place on November 11, 2023.