Gate2Brain is one of the projects to receive research funding from the Obra Social “la Caixa”
The results of the IRB Barcelona project could have applications in various neurodegenerative diseases
Of the 221 projects presented, only 26 have been awarded funding
The project “Gate2Brain, peptide shuttles for protein replacement therapy in Friedreich’s ataxia”, led by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and full professor of the University of Barcelona, and by Javier Díaz Nido, at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO), has been awarded funding from the RecerCaixa Programme—an initiative of the Obra Social “la Caixa” with the collaboration of the Associació Catalana d’Universitats Públiques (ACUP).
This project seeks to establish a new therapeutic approach to Friedreich’s ataxia based on the replacement of the frataxin protein that patients lack. However, this approach could be used for other neurodegenerative diseases. By means of peptide shuttles loaded with the protein, the project aims to transport potential drugs for the treatment of these diseases across the barrier that protects the brain against infection, the so-called blood-brain barrier. Currently, only 2% of the drugs tested for diseases of the central nervous system reach their target. In this regard, Gate2Brain would provide a solution for a clear social need.
2014 marks the fifth call of the RecerCaixa Programme for research funding. This year’s call received applications from 221 projects from 47 institutes. Of these, 26 (11.8% of the total) have been granted funding amounting to a total of more than 2 million euros.
The call is highly competitive given the quality and number of projects presented—these addressing fields ranging from the social sciences and humanities through to the health sciences. This year’s funding has been given to 20 projects in the social sciences and 6 in the health sciences.
About IRB Barcelona
Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 27 laboratories and eight core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona is a CERCA center, and a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).