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”.

Catalan Grífols buys 60% of Progenika Biopharma and posts a net profit of €257 million

March 7, 2013 07:26 PM | CNA

The company, which is based in Greater Barcelona, is the world’s third leader in blood derivatives pharmaceutical products. Last year, it bought out its main competitor in the United States, Talecris. Grífols had a €2.62 billion turnover in 2012 and almost doubled its sales compared to the 2011 figures. The company’s net profit last year quadruples that of 2011. The good results are due to a significant reduction in debt levels and Grífols’ penetration into the United States market. Besides, this week it announced it bought for €37 million the 60% of Progenika Biopharma’s capital, a Basque biotechnology company specialised in the design of diagnostic tests.

Survival rate of inoperable lung cancer patients raises to 80% with a pioneering technique developed in Catalonia

March 6, 2013 08:37 PM | CNA / Laia Ros

The Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) has introduced a world pioneering technique which allows four out of five patients who cannot undergo surgery to survive the illness. This technique causes less after-effects than the traditional radiotherapy. Furthermore, statistics show that with the regular treatment, two thirds of these patients die. However, Ferran Gadea, the Head of the Radiotherapy and Oncology Service, says that the best option to cure a lung cancer is still to undergo the operation when possible.

A Catalan study shows that a world-pioneering dialysis technique reduces patient mortality by 30%

February 15, 2013 09:10 PM | CNA / Elisenda Rosanas

The technique started in Catalonia in 2007 and by 2011 it was practiced on 40% of patients with renal failure. The Catalan Health Ministry hopes to cover 100% of the cases within the next 5 to 10 years. In the United States it started being used a year ago as they were waiting for clinical results to expand its use. Now, a clinical study on 900 patients from 27 different Catalan centres has proved that the technique reduces mortality by 30% on patients with kidney failure within the first three years. In addition, it improves quality of life, reduces hospitalisations by 22% and it also makes hypotension episodes drop by 28%.

Type 1 diabetes has been totally cured for the first time in large animals thanks to the work of Catalan researchers

February 7, 2013 11:14 PM | CNA / María Belmez

Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have managed to completely cure dogs with type 1 diabetes through a single session of gene therapy. It is the first time ever that the effectiveness of a treatment against this illness in large animals has been proved in the world. This achievement opens the door to being able to translate a similar therapy to humans and cure type 1 diabetes, which currently has no cure and means that patients have to control their blood insulin levels for their whole lives through hormone injections, as untreated it can be fatal. Diabetes mellitus type 1 is an autoimmune illness that destroys the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin, an essential hormone in the process of transforming glucose into energy for the body’s cells.

Catalan scientists discover that umbilical cord stem cells can treat heart attacks and strokes

January 25, 2013 08:06 PM | CNA / Laia Ros

According to experiments tested on mice, Catalan scientists have affirmed that the stem cells located in the human umbilical chord, which are multipotential and therefore can become different types of cells, can be used to regenerate the tissue affected by a heart attack or a stroke. Until now the only way to recover the damaged tissue was through pharmacological treatment or a heart transplant.

Treating HIV just after the infection delays the damage to the immune system

January 18, 2013 12:11 AM | CNA

An international study with the participation of the Hospital Clínic IDIBAPS, which is a leading research centre at a world level on AIDS/HIV and other common diseases, has proved that an anti-retroviral treatment carried out just after the infection delays the damage to the patient’s immune system and reduces the risk of transmission. The results of clinical tests on 366 infected individuals confirmed that the sooner and longer an initial anti-retroviral treatment is applied, the later the life-long treatments have to start. However, despite the results, researchers insist that is still too soon to change the current AIDS/HIV treatment protocols.

The University of Barcelona and the Hospital Clínic unveil a new biomedicine centre with more than 200 researchers

January 11, 2013 12:08 AM | CNA / María Belmez / Elisenda Rosanas

The IDIBAPS has opened a new research centre of more than 5,000 m2, where more than 200 researchers split into 23 different research groups will be working. It will focus its work on oncology, neurosciences and cell therapies along with infectious, respiratory, cardiovascular and renal diseases. The new centre has been possible thanks to a donation by the private foundation CELLEX, sponsored by Pere Mir. The new centre is located within the University of Barcelona’s Faculty of Medicine, which is integrated into the prestigious Hospital Clínic. The centre consolidates Catalonia, and in particular Barcelona, as one of Europe’s main biomedical poles.

Catalonia’s pharmaceutical spending dropped by 23.9% in November compared to a year ago

December 27, 2012 11:49 PM | CNA

Catalonia is the second Autonomous Community, behind Galicia, where drug expenditure decreased the most in November. The austerity measures approved by the Catalan and the Spanish Governments to reduce drug expenditure are behind the significant drops in spending in Catalonia and the rest of Spain over the last few months. Pharmaceutical expenditure dropped by 13.11% over the first 11 months of 2012. Besides, the number of drug prescriptions issued in November in Catalonia decreased by 21.27% compared to a year ago.

Catalan hospital staff members demonstrate to support public healthcare

December 12, 2012 11:33 PM | CNA

Staff members from Catalonia’s main hospitals, including Sant Pau, Vall d’Hebron, Clínic, Parc Taulí and Germans Trias i Pujol, carried out several protests on Wednesday. Some of these protests had already started a few days ago and might last a few days longer, such as spending the night in the hospital lobby. They are demonstrating to criticise the budget cuts affecting health centres and to defend the public healthcare system. Some of these hospitals are recognised at an international level for their top quality clinical and scientific research work.

Two therapeutic targets in a child cancer are identified by Catalan researchers

December 11, 2012 08:37 PM | CNA

The Barcelona-based Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) has identified two proteins that block the metastasis of rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that represents 8% of this sort of illness in children. These two proteins are related to cellular proliferation and growth as well as having the capacity to migrate to other organs. The study opens the door to the development of new treatments targeting these two proteins. The study was funded by the foundation of the Catalan Public TV Broadcaster and it has been published in the British Journal of Cancer (BJC).

The key process behind the metastasis of colon cancer is discovered by Catalan scientists

November 12, 2012 11:25 PM | CNA

Scientists from the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory at the Barcelona Institute of Biomedical Research (IRB) have discovered the essential process that allows colon cancer cells to metastasise. They have concluded that tumour cells need to form alliances with healthy cells in order to be able to colonise other organs. Tumour cells can survive in the transition period during the metastasis process thanks to a protein (interleukin-11), which is produced by healthy cells that are exposed to another protein (TGF-beta) present in the tumour’s microenvironment. This discovery may lead to new treatments and diagnostic proceedings for colon cancer patients. A test to predict relapse cases and target treatments is likely to be ready in 5 years. The study has been published by the prestigious journal Cancer Cell.