Barcelona doctors can perform breast reconstruction in a single surgery

January 30, 2014 11:51 PM | ACN / Sergi Sabaté

A surgical team of the Hospital de Bellvitge in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Greater Barcelona, has successfully reconstructed the breasts of 22 women suffering from cancer in one single surgery. This world pioneer medical procedure, consisting in transplanting dorsal muscle on to the removed breast, allows patients to “turn the page” on the disease much more quickly, according to Joan Maria Vinyals, the Head of plastic surgery. Indeed, this “complete and radical reconstruction”, which includes the nipple and areola, avoids having to proceed to a second surgery and erases the usual trauma regarding aesthetic concerns. Leonor Garrido, one of the patients, stated that the technique “had improved a lot” her quality of life since she had her tumour removed and the breast entirely reconstructed immediatly after.

Antibiotics are unnecessary to treat acute bronchitis according to clinical trial

January 22, 2014 08:02 PM | ACN

A clinical trial conducted in nine Catalan health care centres and published in the ‘British Medical Journal’ found that “in the case of mild respiratory infections such as acute bronchitis, there is a misuse of antibiotics, which is of no benefit to patients, and only helps increasing resistance to these drugs”. The study has been coordinated by the prestigious Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). From 2010 to 2012, 416 patients, who showed several signs of acute bronchitis, were randomly assigned one of three different treatments. The main conclusion was that antibiotics, the most widely prescribed treatment for this type of illness, are ineffective. The study also showed that anti-inflammatory treatments increased in a minimal way the chances of ending coughs faster.

Change in Barcelona’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine due to need for direct management, say authorities

January 16, 2014 07:28 PM | ACN

Referring to yesterday’s announcement, Carles Constante, the Director General for Regulation, Planning and Health Resources at the Catalan Ministry of Health, said that the Director of Barcelona’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CMRB), Juan Carlos Izpisúa had resigned due to the need for a more direct management. Constante explained that even though research centres now had a “high level of interconnection and ongoing dialogue”, they also needed “direction, management and a drive of energy within the centre itself, something that could be difficult to maintain from a distance”. Constante stressed that Izpisúa working from the United States for most of the time had been the main reason for him stepping down.

Budget cuts hit Barcelona’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Izpisúa resigns

January 15, 2014 07:21 PM | ACN

The Director of Barcelona’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CMRB), world-famous scientist Juan Carlos Izpisúa, resigned due to the lack of financial and political support from both Spanish and Catalan Governments. Such news was first published by Spanish newspaper ‘El País’ and then confirmed by sources in the research centre. Internationally, Izpisúa is considered to be one of the most esteemed and learned scientists in the field of stem cells. With the Director stepping down, the CMRB could well lose most of its current projects. Indeed, 18 of the 21 projects are the intellectual property of Izpisúa and might no longer be carried out in the Barcelona-based research centre if Izpisúa quit.

Mediterranean diet reduces by 40% the risk of having diabetes

January 11, 2014 04:46 PM | ACN

People who follow a Mediterranean diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil will reduce by 40% the risk of having diabetes, and by 18% if the diet is enriched with nuts. This is one of the main conclusions of a scientific study conducted by 18 research centres throughout Spain on 3,500 people. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Director of this study, said that such results would change the usual perception of diabetes prevention. The Mediterranean diet is not solely efficient against diabetes. Indeed, the results showed that following such a diet also reduced by 30% the chances of contracting cardiovascular diseases.

Grífols and ACE Foundation to test an Alzheimer’s vaccine in January 2014

December 13, 2013 07:11 PM | ACN

The Catalan pharmaceutical company Grífols and Barcelona’s Alzheimer Treatment&Research Center of Fundació ACE – a family charity – have announced that they will run tests of a vaccine against this neurodegenerative illness from January 2014. It will target 365 Alzheimer’s patients at mild and moderate stages of the illness. The first investigation project that ACE’s centre will host is called Ambar. The 365 participants will be randomly divided into three treatment groups plus a fourth control group. The patients will come from 17 Spanish hospitals and 20 United States’ medical centres. From 1996, the ACE Foundation has evaluated more than 14,000 people, 47% of whom were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It has the largest bank of genetic data in Europe.

Two Catalans to lead New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre

November 26, 2013 07:03 PM | ACN

Doctor Joan Massagué has been appointed Scientific Director of the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York , the world’s leading cancer research centre, which is part of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. The Catalan scientist has been chosen by an international expert committee and will take office on the 1st of January 2014. The President and CEO of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Craig B. Thomson, said that Massagué had been given the job for his “exemplarity as a scientist” and because he is an “international leader” in the study of metastasis and factors regulating cell growth. This announcement follows last year’s appointment of another Catalan Doctor, Josep Baselga, as the Physician-in-Chief of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. Both Baselga and Massagué will continue to combine their responsibilities in New York with their research in Barcelona.

First time creating “micro-kidneys” from stem cells

November 18, 2013 09:41 PM | ACN

Researchers from Barcelona’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CMRB), the Catalan capital’s Hospital Clínic and the Salk Institute of California have successfully created three-dimensional renal structures which are virtually indistinguishable from embryonic kidneys. They have started creating kidney cells from human stem cells, and ultimately proven that these newly created cells could aggregate in vitro to form a “micro-kidney”. The team led by Juan Carlos Izpisúa, from the CMRB, said that this scientific breakthrough would facilitate the study of kidney diseases and enable scientists to work on new treatments. He added that this achievement was a great step towards developing therapies based on the use of stem cells.

Feather pillows can cause a chronic and eventually fatal breath shortness disease according to a Catalan study

October 21, 2013 09:21 PM | ACN

Researchers of Barcelona-based Vall d’Hebron Hospital and Research Institute discovered some of the main causes of the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which were unknown before today. Vall d’Hebron’s study showed that a continuous exposure to feather pillows and duvets was one of the main causes of this illness as it favours the scarring of lung tissue. This disease provokes a progressive decline of lung function and leads to asphyxia because of the deterioration of the organ’s tissue. The study has been able to trace the diseases’ causes in half of the studied cases. Besides feather pillows and duvets, the persistent exposure to fungus and close contact with birds can also trigger the illness. The Catalan research allows for a new approach to the illness’ prevention and its diagnosis in the early stages. It also represents a completely new approach to this pathology in terms of treatment.

Catalan researchers present an HIV vaccine prototype that could be tested in humans in 2014

October 8, 2013 09:19 PM | ACN

At the HIV Vaccine World Congress, which is taking place in Barcelona between the 7th and 10th October, Catalan researchers presented a vaccine prototype that has proven to be effective in clinical studies conducted with mice and monkeys. The vaccine stimulates the creation of antibodies and attacks infected cells. The prototype has been created by the Catalan programme to develop a vaccine against HIV, HIVACAT. According to the programme’s Scientific Director, Christian Brander, the vaccine could eventually also be used as a therapeutic treatment.

Children born by assisted reproduction have a higher cardiovascular risk according to a Catalan study

September 18, 2013 10:48 PM | ACN

According to a medical study developed in Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, fetuses conceived by assisted reproduction have changes in their heart and arteries, which begin even before birth and persist in the postnatal period. These changes represent a significant increase in cardiovascular risk in adulthood. However, the researchers point out that this situation is reversible from the beginning of life through a diet rich in omega3 and other factors. In addition, they strongly emphasised that this is only a risk factor and not a disease. The study leader, Eduard Gratacós, said that “it's a message of opportunity, not alarm”. Furthermore, they also recommend monitoring the blood pressure of these babies.

Barcelona's Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) enlarges its space for clinical trials

July 9, 2013 01:05 AM | CNA

The Catalan research centre has unveiled a new 625-square-metre space where the Academic Research Organisation (ARO) will be based. The ARO will provide support for clinical trials developed throughout the world regarding quality control, methodological, regulatory, statistical and management aspects. Furthermore, the new space has 7 medical boxes, nursery support and a lab to process the samples, which will provide an integral service for clinical trials. The new facilities will be able to host between 750 and 1,100 patients per year and work on 350 trials. It cost €1.2 million, which came from public funds.

The functioning of an important gene protecting cells from cancer is discovered by a Catalan-American study

July 4, 2013 01:52 AM | CNA

50% of tumours are related to mutations of this gene, according to the researchers. A study developed by the Bellvitge Institute of Biomedical Research (IBIDELL), based in Greater Barcelona, and the University of Cincinnati have discovered the role of the noncoding 5S rRNA molecule. This molecule regulates the P53 Tumour Suppressor Gene, which protects healthy cells from turning into cancerous cells. When the cell functions correctly, the levels of P53 are low and stable, but when something wrong is detected, the levels increase and cause the cell’s death, avoiding the development of a tumour. The director of the study, George Thomas, explained that understanding how the P53 works and regulates itself is extremely important since “more than half of the tumours present mutations of this gene”.

Musical vibes improve in vitro fertilisation according to a Catalan study

July 4, 2013 12:03 AM | CNA

The exposure to music during in vitro fertilisation has a positive impact on the fecundity rate of egg cells according to a study developed by the assisted reproduction centre Institut Marquès, based in Barcelona. The study concludes that the micro vibrations in the music shake the culture liquid in which the ovum swims and this improves the distribution of nutrients and also avoids the accumulation of toxic products. As a result, the fertilisation of the ovum is facilitated and the success rate is improved by 4.8%. Three styles of music were tested (pop, heavy metal and classical) but no significant differences were observed in relation to the different frequencies.