Catalan biomedicine companies attract €102M investments in 2017
Increase in foreign financing increased compared to previous year
Increase in foreign financing increased compared to previous year
Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine’s finding employs use of immunology against colon cancer and its metastasis
82% of investments came from Catalan investors, according to a recent study
A group of scientists from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology have identified a population of oral tumour cells which may feast on fats to spread throughout the body — a process called metastasis. According to the study, published this Wednesday in the prestigious scientific magazine ‘Nature’, some of these cells expressed high levels of a molecule called CD36, which helps cells to take up lipids from their environment. The research shows that applying antibodies that block CD36 and eliminate its interaction with fatty acids resulted in a reduced number of metastatic focus and also reduced their size by around 80% to 90%. “If we cut the lipids supply to those cells which generate metastasis they are practically unable to spread”, the leader of the IRB ‘Cancer and Stem cells’ team, Salvador Aznar Benitah, explained.
The Catalan Government will offer to host the European Medicines Agency’s headquarters, which is currently in London. The body, which is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the EU, is looking for a new location after ‘Brexit’ and the Generalitat will defend Catalonia’s “potential in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sector” for Catalonia to become the agency’s new home. Indeed, in the nineties the Catalan Government already presented a “very solid portfolio” to house the European Medicines Agency, which was ultimately located in London’s Canary Wharf financial district. According to sources interviewed by CNA, Catalonia is now “racing” with other countries which have also presented their candidacies, such as Sweden, Denmark and Italy.
Researchers at the Hospital Germans Trias in Badalona (Greater Barcelona) have taken an important step toward creating a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes, which currently has no cure. The discovery, published in the scientific journal 'Plos One', consists of the preparation of nanoparticles in the laboratory that, once introduced into the body, slow down the destruction of beta cells (whose primary function is to store and release insulin). With Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks these insulin-producing cells located in the pancreas and destroys them. Currently, to combat the disease, patients must take insulin injections. In recent years, Catalonia has become a global hub for biomedical investigation, developing cutting-edge research initiatives and participating in leading international projects. With just 0.1% of the world’s population, Catalonia accounts for nearly 1% of global scientific production and attracts 2.2% of European competitive funds and 3.5% of European Research Council (ERC) grants.
A new computational method allows the detection, within just a few hours, of the genetic alterations responsible for the formation and progression of cancer tumours. This new method manages to accurately identify almost all types of genetic changes of cancer cells in a simple, quick and precise way. It is also able to identify large-scale chromosome rearrangements, which had been difficult to be detect until this breakthrough. The new method, called SMUFIN, has been developed by the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre and the ICREA (Catalan Institution of Research and Advanced Studies), in collaboration with research groups from Barcelona, Oviedo and Heidelberg. This progress has been published by the prestigious journal 'Nature Biotechnology' and represents a significant step forward towards the personalised treatment of cancer and other illnesses.
On Tuesday evening the Barcelona-born opera tenor, Josep Carreras received the Golden Medal of the Catalan Parliament for his outstanding and internationally-recognised professional career, but also for his efforts leading a foundation that fights Leukaemia. In his acceptance speech, Carreras defended Catalonia's right to self-determination and the independence vote scheduled for the 9th of November. Carreras, who became a true world star in the 1990s with the Three Tenors, praised the idiom "live and let live", meaning that the Spanish authorities should authorise the self-determination vote. He asked the Catalan MPs "to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the others live and let us live". His words were particularly relevant as they were said at such an important event and two days ahead of the massive pro-independence demonstration, which will take place in Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day (the 11th of September).
During the first half of the year, the revenues of the Catalan multinational pharmaceutical company Grifols rose by 16.7% to €1.61 bilion, 75% of which came from the Bioscience division and 18% from Diagnostic. Compared to the first quarter, the proportion of total sales generated by each of the group’s divisions remains unchanged after the acquisition of Novartis' diagnostic business. The world´s third-largest blood-derivate product maker, Grifols obtained a net profit of €224.8 million, 23% more compared with the same period last year, as reported by the company to the Spanish Stock Exchange Authority (CNMV). These positive figures were achieved due to the maintenance of financial costs, made possible by improved financial conditions, despite having increased debt in absolute terms.
On Wednesday the World Health Organisation (WHO) appointed Barcelona-based researcher Pedro Alonso as the new Director of its Global Malaria Program. Alonso is a key figure in the global fight against malaria and has lead research into a vaccine to combat the life-threatening illness. He has been involved with WHO since 2011, when the organisation appointed him as the Chair of the GTS Steering Committee on the Global Technical Strategy on Malaria. Alonso is currently the Director of the Barcelona Institute for International Health Research. He is also the Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at Barcelona's Hospital Clínic and a lecturer at Barcelona University. The physician is due to start his new position in October and is expected to give his formal recommendation on the strategy against malaria in the first quarter of 2015.
Catalonia has established a reputation as a global centre of scientific excellence, pioneering research and innovative ideas. This corner of Europe, with just 0.1% of the world’s population, accounts for nearly 1% of global scientific production. The Catalan Research system, formed of 12 internationally esteemed universities, over 60 research centres, 15 world class hospitals, and almost 9,000 innovative companies, attests to the Catalonia's ambitions in science. This territory is also a magnet of international funding: with 1.5% of Europe’s population, it receives 2.2% of European competitive funds and 3.5% of European Research Council (ERC) grants. There can be no doubt that Catalonia is now a benchmark in Southern Europe, producing frontier research and punching considerably above its weight in terms of scientific contribution. It is attracting worldwide talent and projects, and many consider it to be fast becoming the Palo Alto of biomedical research.
Barcelona has gone from 22nd to 7th place in the list of 468 European cities with the best economic prospects; it is ranked the 19th most competitive city in the world and the 10th in Europe; it stands at 10th in the world in terms of receiving new business investments; and it became the 4th city hosting the largest amount of congresses at world level. The report was produced by the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona in collaboration with the City Council. Furthermore, another study compiled by ESADE business school stressed that Barcelona is the 1st European city in money spent per tourist in shopping, ahead of London and Paris. The Mayor of Barcelona, ??Xavier Trias, welcomed the news but also emphasised the ''shadow'' of having more than 100,000 unemployed in Barcelona, a number he finds “unbearable.”
Researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Catalan capital’s CELLEX Biomedical Research Centre (IDIBAPS-UB) have found the essential role played by cholesterol in cell mobility and tissue invasion, which also means its role in cancer propagation. In fact, this research, led by Professor Carles Enrich, is a key study for better understanding of cancer metastasis – the process in which cancer cells invade healthy tissues – and progresses the discussion on the relationship between cholesterol levels and cancer incidence. The paper is published in open access ‘Cell Reports’. In short they found that the so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL cells) promotes cell mobility while “good” cholesterol (HDL cells) avoids cell propagation. The study opens new therapeutic paths to blocking cancer metastasis.