Easing the arrival of advanced therapies from the pre-clinical stages to industrial production and clinical application: this is the goal of the ADVANCECAT project, an accelerator consisting of eighteen health organizations, including universities, companies, private foundations and biomedical research institutes including the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) through the participation of its research groups in Diabetes, Nutrition and Endocrine Diseases, led by Dr. Eduard Montanya, and Cancer Genetic Virotherapy, led by Dr. Ramon Alemany. The project has an initial budget of € 2.8 million, € 969,352.28 of which is co-funded by ACCIÓ and the European Union under the ERDF Operational Program Catalonia 2014-2020.
Advanced therapies are human drugs based on cells (cell therapy), genes (gene therapy) or tissues (tissue engineering). To date, such drugs are being developed for applications in cancer, AIDS and cardiovascular or neurological diseases, among others. ADVANCECAT aims to create an organizational structure to accelerate the development of these drugs, bringing together both public and private sector actors for a better management of resources in order to get the most out of the Catalan health system.
The main lines of work are focused on enhancing cellular therapies and tissue engineering, boosting gene therapy approaches, and developing production automatisms to facilitate a greater clinical application. Currently, some of the outstanding projects that will be promoted in the ADVANCECAT project environment are related to immunotherapy for clinical applications, tissue regeneration for different diseases and artificial tissues for the reconstruction of damaged organs.
The project also aims to strengthen the Catalan industrial sector by encouraging the identification of mechanisms and protocols that allow the industrial production of these drugs. Enhancing the interaction of research centers and hospitals with the business community involved in this type of therapy will prompt the rapid transition of these new drugs into the healthcare system, which would otherwise require long periods of development.