medicine

Type 1 diabetes vaccine could be on the way as Catalan researchers take a step forward

June 4, 2015 09:36 PM | ACN

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.

Genetic alterations in cancer patients, identified by new computational method developed in Barcelona

October 27, 2014 07:55 PM | ACN

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.

Catalan tenor Josep Carreras: "We are an adult people and we know how to make our own decisions"

September 10, 2014 10:17 AM | ACN

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).

Catalan pharmaceutical giant Grifols sees a 23% jump in net profit in the first half of 2014

July 31, 2014 09:29 PM | ACN / Neringa Sinkeviciute

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.

Barcelona-based Professor Pedro Alonso named Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program

July 31, 2014 09:27 PM | ACN

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, 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.”

FC Barcelona 2014/15 begins with medical and fitness tests

July 14, 2014 09:32 PM

Barça's first team have started the preseason with a series of examinations of their physical condition. Eleven first team players (Ter Stegen, Masip, Montoya, Bartra, Adriano, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Afellay, Tello and Bojan) were joined by thirteen from the reserves (Patric, Ie, Bagnack, Diagne, Grimaldo, Samper, Halilovic, Munir, Sandro, Dani Nieto, Joan Roman, Dongou and Adama). . After initial analyses, they were then staggered into different groups for biomechanical tests, electrocardiograms, echographies, effort tests and densitometry examinations. On Saturday, Huelva will be the stage for the first preseason friendly for Barça 2014/15.

Surgeons in Barcelona extirpate a tumour in a 5 year old child using 3D model

July 3, 2014 07:06 PM | ACN

A team of surgeons at the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in the Catalan capital successfully removed a tumour from a five year old child by first preparing and practicing the “highly complex” procedure on a 3D printed tumour. The child had neuroblastoma, a difficult cancer to extirpate because of the surrounding blood vessels and arteries. In such cases, testing the procedure in advance "is key" because it allows surgeons to study the most effective way of extracting the tumour without damaging other tissues, and to test the method before surgery. This has been possible thanks to the use of a 3D replica of the tumour.

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).

Almost 24,000 patients have to wait longer than guaranteed surgery time

March 21, 2014 08:29 PM | ACN

A total of 23,825 patients have to wait longer than the maximum 6-month-period to undergo one of the 14 surgeries with a guaranteed waiting time, according to the Catalan Minister of Health, Boi Ruiz. In 2013, a total of 151,009 patients underwent one of these surgeries, 3,834 more than the previous year, which represents a 2.6% increase. The number of patients who still require one of these 14 procedures in December 2013 has increased by 6% and 4,261 people, reaching 75,075 with an average waiting time of 5.78 months. On the other hand, the waiting lists for all surgeries, including the 14 specific procedures, have fallen by about 7,000 people in 2013 compared to 2012.

Japanese company Olympus unveils new headquarters for Southern Europe in Barcelona

March 20, 2014 04:17 PM | ACN

Japanese multinational Olympus, specialized in optics and reprography, has unveiled its new headquarters for Spain and Portugal, aimed at becoming its main centre for Southern Europe. The new facilities are located in the business district of L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, a city literally attached to Barcelona, between the Catalan capital and El Prat Airport. The new offices occupy 2,500 square meters in a building on the Europa Square, close to the Fira de Barcelona. It will welcome 30 employees of the divisions of Consumer Product, Microscopy, Industry, and Medical Systems. Merging the headquarters for Spain and Portugal constitutes a step forward to gain weight on the Southern Europe market, said Olympus Iberia's CEO.

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".