As of October 1, 2020, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, as the coordinator of the Horizon 2020 project, started to implement the prestigious project CasProt from the European Framework Program of the EU for Research and Innovation within the framework of the "Twinning" call. Scientific teams from the Center for Interdisciplinary Biosciences of the Technology and Innovation Park (CIB TIP) and the Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science from the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice have participated in the project led by prof. RNDr. Pavol Miškovsky, DrSc.
The main goal of the project called "Fostering high scientific quality in protein science in Eastern Slovakia (CasProt)" is to increase the scientific capacity and grow the research potential of UPJŠ in Košice in the field of protein sciences. The implementation of the project will take 3 years, while UPJŠ in Košice is its main coordinator.
Top-quality scientific teams of partner entities in the project - the Technical University of Munich and the University of Zurich are a prerequisite for the development of UPJŠ in Košice in the field of protein research with the ambition to achieve a leading position in this scientific field in Slovakia.
This project will lead to the development of technologies and the increase of the innovation potential of UPJŠ in Košice with the expected impact not only for Eastern Slovakia but also for the whole country.
In terms of scientific focus, advanced methods of controlled evolution to the targeted development of a specific type of protein receptors called GPCRs (G protein-coupled receptors) are applied in the CasProt project. GPCRs are critical molecular multilevel switches that control many signaling pathways at the cellular level. Their importance is underlined by the fact that approximately 50% of the drugs available on the market are specifically targeted at regulating GPCR activity, which is associated with various mental, metabolic, cardiovascular, inflammatory, and sensory disorders. Despite the immense importance of GPCR proteins, knowledge about the structure and dynamics of GPCRs is severely limited, mainly due to their extremely low solubility.
The results of the research will provide an understanding of the molecular basis of the regulation of GPCR function, as well as the improvement of a rational approach to the targeted development of new drugs.
The project also significantly supports young scientists in the development of skills in the field of interdisciplinary biosciences, and one of the ambitions of the project is also to attract back experienced Slovak scientists working abroad for a long time. It is expected that the results of the project will lead to the creation of a patent and start-up company as well as to contacts with major industrial companies.