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CaixaImpulse funds an IRB Barcelona immunotherapy project for head and neck cancers



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Gonzalo Fernández-Miranda, associate researcher at IRB Barcelona, leads this therapeutic project selected by CaixaImpulse to facilitate its development towards the market.

The third edition of the CaixaImpulse, a programme run by the Banking Foundation La Caixa and Caixa Capital Risc that supports the development of bio-health projects, is to fund an immunotherapy project for advanced head and neck cancers (HNCs) at IRB Barcelona. Gonzalo Fernández-Miranda, associate researcher with the Translational Control of Cell Cycle and Differentiation Lab—lead by Raúl Méndez— heads this eight-month project entitled “Immunotherapy for HNCs, New potential immunotherapy drug for advanced head and neck cancers”.

Immunotherapy for HNCs

The incidence of HNCs is increasing worldwide, and there are still no effective therapies to treat these conditions. HNCs are generally diagnosed in late stages and frequently have a poor prognosis. This project seeks to develop a new cancer immunotherapy focused on an innovative mechanism of action, which combines a cytotoxic effect on malignant cells and an enhanced antitumor immune response.

“The possibility of using a single drug with a dual beneficial effect, such as cancer cell- selective cytotoxicity and enhanced antitumor immune response, breaks new ground in terms of developing advanced therapies for cancer patients,” explains Fernández-Miranda.

In order to facilitate the development of this project and to work on the valorisation plan, CaixaImpulse provides it with high-value resources, such as financial support and the assignment of a Mentor to monitor and support the project.

It also offers the project leader the chance to meet key partners, industry experts and consultants to explore collaboration and business opportunities, in addition to training in key areas like IP Rights, finance and commercialization. “It helps us to understand what we need to create a successful spin-off”, stresses Fernández-Miranda.

This project also involves Raúl Méndez, ICREA researcher and group leader of the Translational Control of Cell Cycle and Differentiation Lab at IRB Barcelona, and Chiara Lara Castellazzi, researcher at Technology Transfer Programme from Fundación Botín. It also involves Alba Olivares from the Innovation Department at IRB Barcelona.

IRB Barcelona’s project is one of the 23 (out of 80 applications) to receive funding this year. CaixaImpulse seeks to promote the transformation of knowledge in the field of life sciences and healthcare into business initiatives.


More information about CaixaImpulse Programme

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 24 laboratories and seven 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 more than 400 employees and 36 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona forms part of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) and the “Xarxa de Centres de Recerca de Catalunya” (CERCA).

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 offer pioneering solutions to unresolved medical needs in cancer and other diseases related 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 employees 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).