The European ADVANCE.CAT project, which aims to develop medicines based on advanced therapies (genes, cells and tissues) and foster the collaboration between leading organisations in Catalonia, has held a meeting to assess the progress made over the past three months. The project enjoys the participation of a network of prominent entities in the field of biomedical research. These include the Barcelona Macula Foundation (BMF), which researches into retinal diseases that cause blindness and that are incurable.
Dr. Roura, of the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP), explained at the meeting that they are working on the optimisation of a bioreactor for the extraction of exosomes produced by mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), in turn avoiding the collection of cellular debris that is not viable in the extraction. Research into exosomes as a therapeutic tool can be useful to control unwanted immunological responses in translational nanomedicine.
There was also evaluation of the work undertaken by the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), together with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), with regard to the development of strategies to differentiate somatic stem cells in mature beta cell phenotypes capable of secreting insulin through the use of self-assembling peptide nanofibres. During recent months, they have been able to validate cell mapping of the beta cells during expansion (epithelial-mesenchymal transition).
In addition, the Qrem company presented a sample decellularisation platform on which work has just started. This platform would offer the advantage of decellularising various samples in parallel, cutting protocol time and reducing direct handling in order to cut down on possible contamination.
One of the most notable pieces of news was also that the University of Barcelona (UB) and the IBEC, together with another nine institutions, have won 3.8 million euros in funding granted by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission for the Advanced Stem Cell Technologies for Neurology (ASCTN-Training) project. This project was implemented to train young researchers in cell therapies applied to neuronal diseases in several European companies.
Furthermore, it was announced that on 12 December the UB will attend, on behalf of the ADVANCE.CAT consortium, the inaugural session of the BIOREGATE Forum (Nantes, France) to present the project and explain the work performed in it.
This programme is co-funded by the Agency for Business Competitiveness (ACCIÓ) of the Government of Catalonia and the European Union as part of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Catalonia 2014-2020 operational programme.