catalan research

Catalonia, a hub of global biomedical research

July 25, 2014 12:32 PM | Bryony Clarke

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 is among world's top 10 places to do business and first European city for shopping tourism

July 15, 2014 04:55 PM | ACN

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.”

Cholesterol plays a key role in cancer propagation, according to Catalan study

May 22, 2014 06:26 PM | ACN

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.

Catalan researchers develop gene therapy reversing memory loss in mice with early-stage Alzheimer's

April 23, 2014 06:57 PM | ACN

Scientists at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have found that an alteration of a neuronal gene program plays an essential role in the first stages of Alzheimer's disease and have developed a gene therapy which is effective on mice. The Catalan study occupies the front page of 'The Journal of Neuroscience'. Researchers have identified a new mechanism that regulates the expression of genes in the brain which are essential for the function of neuronal circuits involved in learning and memory. According to the new study, which was carried out by Dr. Carlos Saura's group at the UAB's Institute of Neurosciences (Institut de Neurociències), the alteration of a gene program mediating neuronal transmission and survival may underlie memory loss at early pathological stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

World’s smallest pacemaker implanted in 4 patients in Barcelona's Hospital Clínic

March 18, 2014 07:46 PM | ACN

Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic has installed the ‘Micra’ 24mm pacemaker - equivalent to the size of a one euro coin -  in 4 patients as part of a clinical trial involving 10 medical centres and 60 patients troughout the world. This innovative wireless system is minimally invasive since it does not require any surgical procedure but is implanted in the heart through the femoral vein using a catheter. Such a procedure can be performed within 30 minutes and also reduces the patients’ risks of future infections. According to the Medical Director of the Hospital, Josep Brugada, if the clinical study is successful, it will involve a “paradigm shift”. Experts estimate it could reach hospitals within the next two or three years.

Barcelona becomes the first European Innovation Capital

March 11, 2014 07:42 PM | ACN

During the 2014 Innovation Convention, organised by the European Commission on Tuesday, Barcelona was named the first European Capital of Innovation. The Catalan capital has prevailed over finalists Grenoble (France) and Groningen (the Netherlands) in a contest which also involved Paris, Espoo (Finland) and Malaga (Spain). The winning project highlights the predominant role of the city in promoting new technologies and bringing together government bodies and citizens, in order to enhance sustainable economic growth and improve the people’s welfare. The award is endowed with € 500,000 to promote innovation. Barcelona's Mayor, Xavier Trias, stated that new technologies in an urban environment have to "work towards improving people's everyday lives[…] or they will fail".

Catalan Institute of Nanoscience sets up its new headquarters at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

February 19, 2014 12:41 PM | ACN / Carolina Pons

The Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) has set up its new headquarters at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) campus. The new faculties are located in a 6,000 square meter building with 40 laboratories, where scientific projects will be developed in different areas, from biomedicine to the development of everyday products such as paint or detergents.. This project is funded by both the Catalan and Spanish Governments and aims to make the centre a flagship in the European scientific field.

Ferran Adrià’s ‘elBulli1846’ culinary and research project completed by March 2016

February 10, 2014 08:06 PM | ACN

‘elBulli1846’, the ambitious initiative of acclaimed Chef Ferran Adrià, could well become a reality in March 2016 thanks to a €9 million investment made through the Catalan Chef’s foundation. The Catalan Government described such an initiative as “a national project”. ‘elBulli1846’ is named after the number of dishes created in the 3-Michelin-star El Bulli, which was awarded the world’s best restaurant on 5 occasions. Adrià’s new project is notably looking to establish a unique centre in the world for innovation, research, and training in the field of avant-garde cuisine. Besides, for 20 days a year, visitors will have access to ElBulli restaurant, with half of the available entrances awarded for free through a lottery. The centre will be located in the old restaurant’s venue in the Cap de Creus Natural Park (Costa Brava). 3,000 square metres will be added but built respecting the environment.

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.

Number of companies in Catalan biocluster has doubled since 2000

December 3, 2013 04:57 PM | ACN

Biocat, the organisation responsible for coordinating and promoting the life sciences sector in Catalonia, presented the 2013 Biocat report in Barcelona. Since its creation in 2006, by the Catalan Government and the Barcelona City Council, Biocat has sought to consolidate the life sciences sector by bringing together researchers, companies and other professionals in the field of biotechnology and biomedecine from Catalonia and other countries in the world. With 65 % of its biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical products sold on the international market, the Catalan ‘Bioregion’(biocluster) is amongst the leaders in the sector. The cluster is currently made of 512 companies, meaning twice as many as in 2000, 56 research centers dedicated to life sciences or related disciplines, 17 university hospitals and 11 universities offering training in biosciences. It also relies on numerous other technology poles. This year’s report stressed the significant increase in private funding for the Catalan BioRegion over the last 4 years (€ 5.7 million to € 25.6 million) while highlighting the drop in public aid.