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.

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.

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.

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.

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.