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Three innovation projects at IRB Barcelona are granted funding for market development



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The labs headed by Angel R. Nebreda, Ernest Giralt and Roger Gomis secure funding for further development of three medical applications.

The three projects will receive 220,000 euros from the "Knowledge Industry" programme, which is run by the Catalan Government and cofunded by ERDFs.

The Catalan’ Government’s Agency for Management and of University and Research Grants (Agencia de Gestió i Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR)) has awarded around 220,000 euros to three innovation projects underway at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). These funds have been provided through the 2016 “Knowledge Industry” grant call, a programme cofunded by European Regional Development Funds (ERDFs) devoted to Catalonia in the period 2014-2020.

The 18- and 6-month grants called "Producte"  and "Llavor" (seed) respectively, have been awarded to the scientists Ernest Giralt—also full professor of the University of Barcelona—, ​​Roger R. Gomis and Angel R. Nebreda—both ICREA Professors. This funding will allow them to make progress in biomedical projects covering a variety of medical needs.

Specifically, these grants are devoted to the further development of products or technology that has come about from the research done by their respective labs. The funding will support the following:

Myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury (IRI)

  • Researcher: Angel R. Nebreda. Project: "Innovative therapeutic candidates for myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury"  Type of grant: “Llavor”.

The project developed in the Signalling and Cell Cycle Lab, headed by ICREA researcher Angel R. Nebreda, seeks to find a therapy for a pathological phenomenon called ischemic reperfusion injury (IRI), which is linked to heart attacks and for which there are no specific treatments.

The lab has devoted many years to studying the signalling pathways of MAP kinases and has recently identified potential targets within these pathways through which to reduce the damage caused by myocardial IRI. In this regard, the project seeks to optimise molecular inhibitors.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 7.4 million people died from heart disease in 2012. Many of these deaths were caused by a myocardial IRI. Predictions made by the multinational market analysis company Globaldata indicate that this figure will increase by 3% yearly until 2022.

Brain diseases

  • Researcher: Ernest Giralt. Project: "Proof-of-concept for brain delivery of therapeutic antibodies using Gate2Brain technology". Type of grant: “Producte”.

It is estimated that one in four people will be affected by a brain disease at some point during their lives. Pharmaceutical candidates are available for nearly all these diseases. However, for most of these compounds the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which protects the brain, is unbreachable and thus a bottleneck for patient treatment.

In Ernest Giralt’s Design, Structure and Synthesis of Peptides and Proteins Lab, a research line headed by Meritxell Teixidó has led to the development of the technology Gate2Brain after 10 years of work. This technology comprises three families of shuttle peptides that have the capacity to carry drugs across the BBB.

The funding will be used to demonstrate an increase in the efficacy of therapeutic antibodies when conjugated to the peptide shuttles. This proof of concept is vital for various pharmaceutical companies that have already shown an interest in Gate2Brain and that are developing drugs for diseases of the central nervous system.

Breast cancer

  • Researcher: R. Gomis. Project: "Lipid targeting in breast cancer". Type of grant: “Producte”.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in developed countries, with highly heterogeneous tumours affecting 1.7 million women each year. Unfortunately, between 20% and 30% of breast cancer patients develop metastasis, and in many cases patients with advanced disease become resistant to treatment.

The grant awarded to Roger Gomis’ lab will be used to obtain a monoclonal antibody that is suitable for patient treatment and to complete the pre-clinical development phase of a well-defined molecular target for patients with breast cancer.

The project developed by the Growth Control and Cancer Metastasis laboratory could bring about a change in clinical practice, and an improvement in prognosis, in the management of breast cancer patients, and in life expectancy. Moreover, it may lead to greater efficacy of current drug treatments as it involves the development of an alternative to current treatments.

Towards smart specialisation in Catalonia

The "Knowledge Industry Grants" seek to foster the creation and consolidation of a new entrepreneurial ecosystem, of high added-value and knowledge-rich, based on the results produced by the knowledge creation centres. This grants programme is part of the Smart Specialisation Strategy for Catalonia (RIS3CAT), which promotes R&D&I as a driver of the transformation of the productive fabric.

More information: Knowledge Industry grants for 2016 (Llavor i Producte)


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 25 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 400 employees and 32 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 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).