Ferrer, IBEC and Mind the Byte join forces to study new molecules against cancer metastasis

The study will take as a starting point the pioneering research conducted by IBEC’s Xavier Trepat on how cadherins interact in metastasis

The pharmaceutical company Ferrer has created a consortium with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the bioinformatics company Mind the Byte, located at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), to study the development of new therapeutic molecules against cancer metastasis.

The work will follow the research on cadherin interaction and its role in cells that cause metastasis conducted by Dr. Xavier Trepat, ICREA professor at IBEC and one of the few scientists to have won three grants from the European Research Council (ERC).

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Image: Andrés G. Fernández, Xavier Trepat and Alfons Nonell-Canals lead the consortium on behalf of Ferrer, IBEC and Mind the Byte, respectively.

Both Dr. Andrés G. Fernández, director of Ferrer Advanced Biotherapeutics, and Dr. Alfons Nonell- Canals, a specialist in computer-aided drug design and CEO of the bioinformatics company Mind the Byte, agree that this is a case of technology transfer between a public research center and two private companies “in which each will contribute with their knowledge and expertise.”

In the first phase of the project, to be started this September, Mind the Byte will computationally model the interactions of cadherin molecules and will design molecules to act as potential blockers. The decision to incorporate the computational design at this early stage “is to reduce costs and time,” says Nonell-Canals. Later in the project, Dr. Trepat’s team will be responsible for testing these molecules. For its part, Ferrer will contribute their know-how on chemistry and pharmacology and their expertise in drug development, and will take on a key role as an industrial partner at a later stage if the expected results are achieved.

Ferrer’s current pipeline includes over a dozen external projects through a strategy of innovation based on collaborations and partnerships with public research groups and biotechnology companies with the aim of tackling unmet clinical needs.

IBEC, a multidisciplinary center focusing on bioengineering and nanotechnology, has renewed its push for technology transfer by implementing fast and red-tape free decision processes. As emphasized by Dr. Xavier Rúbies, head of the technology transfer unit at IBEC, knowledge of the market and its determinants is essential to ensure a real transfer.