The ”la Caixa” Foundation promotes 15 leading biomedical research projects in Spain and Portugal with the CaixaResearch Validate 2022 call. These are early-stage projects that the entity wants to support to accelerate their arrival on the market and bring them closer to patients.
A panel of European experts and professionals of life and health sciences have selected these 15 projects from among the 110 presented in the call. Selected projects received up to 100,000 euros to validate their technologies and design a roadmap.
Josep Maria Aran’s project aims to develop a drug for inflammatory bowel disease. Three million people in Europe suffer from autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with an economic impact on public health systems of between 4,600 and 5,600 million euros per year. In Spain, the incidence of this group of diseases, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is 14.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. They harm the quality of life, 10-15% of whom will need surgery to remove part of the colon. These diseases also carry an associated risk of developing colorectal cancer.
There are some treatments, but patients often have poor compliance due to their side effects. In addition, they can cause immunosuppression, which can lead to significant health problems. Safer drugs with fewer side effects and greater efficacy are needed.
In this sense, the researchers of this project have discovered a blood protein with a high anti-inflammatory capacity: it turns the cells of the immune system from a pro-inflammatory state to an anti-inflammatory state, which could slow down the progression of these diseases. From this regulatory protein of the innate immune system, which is the body’s first line of defense, they have developed a recombinant protein, PRP-HO7, which, administered in the appropriate doses and at the right time, can stop inflammation, restore immune tolerance and achieve long-term remission of IBD without causing immunosuppression.
In this project, the researchers want to fine-tune this biological drug to carry out a phase I clinical trial for IBD.
The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).