IRB Barcelona and the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Tohoku University in Japan have signed a new academic exchange agreement. In August, the Dean of the Japanese institution and IRB Barcelona Director Joan J. Guinovart endorsed a long-standing collaboration between scientists at the two centres.
Research Associate Meritxell Teixidó explains that the collaboration agreement with Tetsuya Terasaki, who co-chaired a recent Barcelona BioMed Conference with Ernest Giralt dedicated to the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), has arisen from a common interest in studying regioselective transport, transport of molecules to selected areas of the brain.
“We are studying whether it is possible to design BBB shuttles that are able to target specific regions of the brain,” she explains. “It is a challenging idea that we have been working on for a while now. If we are successful, we might be able to significantly reduce the side effects of many drugs and increase their efficacy. We know that most neurological diseases affect only a specific region of the brain. So it is not necessary for a drug to reach the whole brain.”
This collaboration, which has now been made official through this agreement between the two institutions, has already brought about academic exchange. Ernest Giralt’s and Meritxell Teixidó’s PhD student Cristina Fuster is currently on a five-month placement in Professor Terasaki’s Lab. “At the beginning it was a bit difficult,” confesses Cristina in an e-mail. “But the truth is that Japan is a very nice country.” She explains that during her stay she is going to study the capacity of THRre, “our peptide shuttle,” as she calls it, to carry various cargos in vitro and in vivo. “Here they have a lot of experience in protein quantification using Liquid Chromatography coupled to Mass Spectrometry.”
The agreement stipulates that the two institutions can exchange two students each every year, and that during their respective placements they will be treated as full lab members of the host institute. “We hope that there will be many students who will take advantage of this opportunity,” adds Teixidó.