IBEC engages in two public-private partnerships for biomedical breakthroughs

IBEC and Vitala, a spin-off founded by IBEC researchers, are set to participate in three public-private partnership projects, with a combined investment nearing €4 million. These initiatives, backed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the State Research Agency, aim to advance remote health monitoring, create an oral drug for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and enhance 13C magnetic resonance imaging for therapeutic research. Leveraging cutting-edge technological approaches, these endeavors aspire to make a positive impact on the fields of medicine and biomedical research.

IBEC and Vitala Technologies, a spin-off founded by IBEC researchers, are set to undertake three public-private partnership projects with a collective budget of nearly €4 million. These projects will be executed under the 2022 call for grants for public-private collaboration projects, bestowed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the State Research Agency.

The call aims to bolster experimental development projects that encourage collaboration between companies and research organizations. The objective is to promote the advancement of new technologies, implement innovative ideas and techniques in business, and contribute to the creation of novel products and services.

Remote Health Monitoring in Stroke Patients

The AURA project, led by NVISION, a company specializing in Internet of Things (IoT) R&D, is dedicated to non-invasive remote health monitoring. By combining NVISION’s expertise in IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) modeling with the proficiency in respiratory and cardiac signal processing of IBEC’s Biomedical Signal Processing and Interpretation (BIOSPIN) group, led by UPC professor Raion Jané, AURA aims to revolutionize respiratory and cardiac assessment through continuous and remote monitoring.

The system will offer detailed physiological information in a continuous and convenient manner, enhancing the monitoring of patients in rehabilitation processes. Supported by advanced data processing and AI modeling, it seamlessly integrates into any remote healthcare domain, prioritizing user privacy and comfort. Jané and his team’s experience in developments focused on personal health is crucial for leading health monitoring tasks in a non-intrusive manner.

Moreover, the IBEC group possesses infrastructures, including a biomedical signal acquisition and processing laboratory, which will be utilized in the project’s development, including the design of a ‘living lab.’ These laboratories enable the testing of technology in everyday environments, such as homes or rehabilitation centers, to assess its effectiveness and impact in real-life situations.

The project will conclude with a clinical proof of concept involving patients with stroke and spinal cord injuries, showcasing the application of the sensor for monitoring cardiac and respiratory activity in these patients. The ultimate goal is to redefine clinical supervision, enhancing physicians’ knowledge and personalized well-being for patients.

Biopharmaceuticals against Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), encompassing conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, impacts millions of people worldwide, significantly affecting their quality of life. GAT Biosciences, a specialized start-up in the development of biopharmaceuticals through sustainable microalgae biofactories, is collaborating with IBEC and the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) to develop GB-AF-004. This innovative drug boasts improved stability for oral administration, targeting damaged intestinal tissue with specificity. It acts as an anti-TNF, inhibiting Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), a protein associated with chronic inflammation in IBD.

The crucial involvement of IBEC’s Biomimetic Systems for Cell Engineering group, led by Elena Martinez, is integral to this endeavor. The team employs an innovative biofabrication method to replicate the three-dimensional structure of gut tissue. IBEC’s participation enhances the consortium’s ability to demonstrate the efficacy of GB-AF-004 using advanced laboratory models that simulate the human gut.

This project addresses the pressing need for oral, safe, and effective IBD treatments, leveraging innovative technologies and the expertise of a diverse consortium. The primary goal is to validate GB-AF-004, progressing to clinical phases and subsequent global distribution, offering a promising alternative in managing these chronic diseases.

Advances in Magnetic Resonance for Therapeutic Research

Vitala Technologies, a spin-off founded by IBEC researchers, is collaborating with the Institute of Photonic Sciences – ICFO on the “SEE-13-MRI” project, aiming to enhance 13C magnetic resonance, a molecular imaging technique utilizing the carbon-13 isotope in disease research. In this joint effort, Vitala focuses on extending the lifespan of tracer metabolites, while ICFO develops quantum atomic magnetometers to enhance quality control. The initiative aims to broaden access to early disease detection, propelling the future commercial application of these images in drug discovery.

SEE-13-MRI integrates bioengineering and organ-on-chip technologies with advanced imaging techniques, providing unprecedented value in therapeutic compounds research. Led by María Alejandra Ortega, a former IBEC researcher and current Director of Operations and Transformation at Vitala, the project also involves Irene Marco Rius, principal investigator of IBEC’s Molecular Imaging for Precision Medicine group and co-founder and scientific director of Vitala.

Projects CPP2022-009979 and CPP2022-009989, funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 and by European Union NextGenerationEU/PRTR