IRB Barcelona launches a scientific collaboration with Galapagos to identify and validate senolytic drug targets in inflammation and fibrosis


The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the European biotech company Galapagos NV, based in Belgium, have established a scientific collaboration to identify and validate a series of senolytic drug targets with potential for use in tissue repair across multiple organs. The collaboration is based on the results of a large-scale analysis of genes that potentially play a role in fibrosis, inflammation, and the ageing process.

Results from an initial analysis, performed by the Cellular Plasticity and Disease lab at IRB Barcelona, showed that these genes may participate in senescence, a central hallmark of ageing and multiple degenerative diseases. The collaboration will focus on additional identification and validation of the most interesting candidates based on functional classification, mechanism of action and pharmacological characteristics. Upon achievement of defined research results, Galapagos has the option to license the targets for further drug discovery, development and commercialisation.

Dr. Manuel Serrano said of the collaboration, "Turning the work done by the laboratory into practical advances that can benefit society is our raison d'être. Galapagos is a leading biotech company that specialises in drug discovery and development of small molecules in the fields of inflammation and fibrosis and we are delighted to have formed this collaboration with them to further our investigations.”

This collaboration with the biotechnology industry is strategic for IRB Barcelona and provides great value by helping to develop laboratory discoveries into potential therapeutics. The agreement between IRB Barcelona and Galapagos has an initial duration of one year (extendable) and includes the conditions of future collaboration and exploitation of the results.

The Cellular Plasticity and Disease lab, led by the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) researcher Dr. Manuel Serrano, has received strategic support from “la Caixa” Foundation for 5 years. The funds awarded by “la Caixa” Foundation under the CaixaResearch Programme have contributed to the results that are the basis of this collaboration. Dr. Marta Kovatcheva, the postdoctoral fellow leading this project has a fellowship from the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC).