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Ambulances for the brain supported by the RecerCaixa Programme



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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

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).