Gate2Brain, a spin-off from IRB Barcelona, the UB and SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital will develop a new drug built with a shuttle peptide that crosses the blood-brain barrier to improve treatments for paediatric brain cancer.
The competitive 2021 CaixaResearch Consolidate call has awarded Gate2Brain €300,000 so that its technology can advance and reach society.
To date, Gate2Brain has received support from the Mind the Gap Programme, run by the Botín Foundation, and BStartup Health, an initiative of the Banc Sabadell.
The Gate2Brain-4-Cancer project “Crossing the blood-brain barrier to treat paediatric cancer”, linked to the technology developed by the spin-off Gate2Brain, has been awarded funding in the 2021 CaixaResearch Consolidate call run by ”la Caixa” Foundation. Through this award, ”la Caixa” Foundation will help the technology developed by Gate2Brain to progress and reach society, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the health and quality of life of children with brain tumours such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
DIPG is the most serious type of brain cancer and it affects approximately two out of every million children. At present, there is no cure or effective treatment for this disease and the average survival after diagnosis is only 8-11 months.
Although certain drugs have demonstrated potent anti-tumour activity against DIPG in vitro, all of them have failed clinical trials because they cannot cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to reach the tumour. The BBB is a protective cellular barrier that allows only certain molecules from circulating blood to pass into the central nervous system, and it prevents pathogens and other substances from entering.
The spin-off Gate2Brain has designed a shuttle peptide that can carry drugs across the BBB to treat DIPG and other brain diseases. The company aims to carry out the preclinical validation of the new drug G2B-002. Gate2Brain shuttles can be adapted to a wide range of molecules, thus demonstrating the enormous potential of this technology to treat various diseases of the brain.
“Humankind has always dreamt of reaching outer space and also the inside of our brain. At Gate2Brain, we dream of helping drugs enter the brain and thus of being able to treat paediatric tumours such as DIPG.”
Gate2Brain came about in 2020, the brainchild of Dr. Meritxell Teixidó, CEO of the company, with the participation of the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, the Fundación Sant Joan de Déu (SJD), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the University of Barcelona (UB). The business project was founded with support from the Mind the Gap Programme run by the Botín Foundation, which invested €500,000, and provided accompaniment through the incorporation of an expert who supports the entrepreneurial team. Shortly after its launch, the company received backing from the BStartup Health Programme run by the Banc Sabadell (€100,000). Located at the Barcelona Science Park, Gate2Brain counts on the collaboration of the Paediatric cancer Programme at the Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu.
Gate2Brain and another three innovative biomedical projects are strengthened by support from ”la Caixa” Foundation
In addition to the Gate2Brain project, the others awarded—mature projects that are backed to bring them closer to commercial investment—include one from the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (acronym VHIR) to develop synthetic cells that improve the management of viral infections, a technological application from the University of Santiago de Compostela and CSIC that acts on cancer stem cells to overcome resistance and recurrence, and intelligent glasses developed by the University of Murcia to correct serious eye defects.
Beyond the funding of up to €300,000 per project, the awardees receive support in fields such as tech transfer, funding tools and negotiations, in addition to mentorship by experts that help define personalised development and commercialisation plans.
Support for these projects is awarded within the framework of the 2021 CaixaResearch Consolidate call, which promotes the transfer of knowledge and technologies in the field of biomedicine and health and provides support for the creation of new research-based companies. Acknowledging the importance of applicant projects receiving adequate funding in a timely manner, the call is open throughout the year.
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).