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The IRB Barcelona spin-off Gate2Brain wins the Senén Vilaró Prize for the development of technology that facilitates drug delivery to the brain



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The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), University of Barcelona (UB) and the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute of the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital (SJD) spin-off Gate2Brain has been awarded the Senén Vilaró Prize by the UB Social Council and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation for the best innovative company of the year. Launched in 2020, Gate2Brain is a biotech company focused on the development of therapies that efficiently cross biological barriers such as the blood-brain barrier, and that facilitate drug delivery to the brain. It came about with the initial investment of the Mind the Gap Programme of the Botín Foundation and BStartup Health run by the Banco Sabadell, and last year it received a €2.5M EIC Accelerator grant from the European Commission.

The spin-off seeks to increase the effectiveness and reduce the side effects of brain disease treatments through a radically innovative technology based on peptides—a type of molecule formed by the binding of several amino acids.

Gate2Brain was set up to exploit the technology developed over more than fifteen years in IRB Barcelona’s former Peptide and Protein laboratory, led by Prof. Ernest Giralt, emeritus professor oat IRB Barcelona. Its current CEO, Dr. Meritxell Teixidó, was an associate researcher in the same lab. The line of research that Prof.  Giralt pursued gave rise to three families of shuttle peptides with the capacity to cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver therapeutic molecules to the brain that cannot cross this obstacle unaided. All three patents were licensed to Gate2Brain.

The first product developed by the company is a new therapeutic approach for pediatric brain tumours. It combines oncology, rare diseases, and pediatrics and has been protected by two recent patents whose marketing rights are licensed exclusively to Gate2Brain. Thanks to this Gate2Brain technology, it is possible to increase the brain penetration of the transported anticancer agent and increase anti-tumour activity in vivo in animal models derived from pediatric patients.

A growing marketing

Gate2Brain operates in the sector devoted to drug transport to the central nervous system, which, according to estimates, could reach a value of $4,600M in 2026 and have an annual growth rate of 30.2%.

The company has competitive advantages over others in the sector and its business model focuses on obtaining licensing agreements with pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs for the central nervous system.

The jury of the Senén Vilaró Prize awarded by the UB Social Council and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation has acknowledged all the milestones achieved by Gate2Brain, which “open up a very promising future.”


Source: Bosch i Gimpera Foundation


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).