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Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. Even though research in this disease is moving ahead firmly, in 2018 it was still responsible for 9.6 million deaths (figures from WHO). It is imperative to develop new ways of dealing with the disease with the goal of improving its diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. The Short Course Bioengineering and MedTech against Cancer, organized jointly by Medicen Paris Region (Biocat’s agency equivalent in the Paris region) and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), in conjunction with Biocat,  the “la Caixa” Foundation and Meditecnologia, has focused on showcasing new advances in the intersection between bioengineering and medical technology in the field of cancer. The course, which was held on November 24 and 25, is part of the ToHealth program, an activity of EIT Health, which financed it.

Front-line experts have explained the latest developments in technologies meant to improve our knowledge of cancer and how to treat it:

  • Mechanobiology – a new therapeutic strategy targeted at the mechanical properties of the tumor
  • Tumor on chip – developments in micro fluid technology in the cell culture have managed to generate human organs on chips which enable new drugs to be tested and the disease to be modelled
  • Liquid biopsy – a new technology that has the potential to radically improve cancer diagnoses and prognoses
  • Targeted drug delivery – new highly effective targeted drug delivery strategies with fewer side effects are being developed for chemotherapy
  • CAR-T therapies – personalized treatments adapted to the patient’s immune system to help them fight cancer

Josep Samitier, director of the IBEC; Jessica Leygues, CEO of Medicen Paris Region; and Núria Martí, director of Innovation at Biocat, participated in the course opening.

Samitier stressed that “bioengineering and MedTech tools have the potential to change the paradigm of cancer diagnosis, but this revolution will only be possible with the support of a multidisciplinary convergence of technologies and a dialogue among researchers, clinicians, companies and patients”. Leygues said that “the course triggered discussion among the participants in order to move forward these research projects and facilitate the transfer of this innovation to society”. Finally, Martí underscored the fact that the activity “is a powerful tool for generating new knowledge with the aim of educating the next generation of healthcare and research professionals”.

Among the speakers, scientific leaders from renowned centres such as Finland’s Institute Karolinska, Georges Pompidou European Hospital (France), Marie Curie Research Centre (França), Max Planck Institute (Germany), Beatson Institute for Cancer Research (University of Glasgow), University of Eindhoven, Trinity College Dublin, Institut de Recerca Josep Carreras, IDIBAPS, Institut Químic de Sarrià, Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya and the Scientific Officer at the European Commission in charge of cancer, among others.

The course included an Innovation Track where various projects previously selected were presented in front of a panel of investors and experts. The goal is to boost innovation transfer to society and to promote collaboration among the sector stakeholders. Afterwards, there have been B2B meetings between projects and start-ups with investors and KOLs.

A new Biocat training activity will be held on December 15 and 16, the short course “Brain health for life. Preventing brain related disability” led by the researcher Álvaro Pascual Leone from the Guttmann Institute and Harvard University. 

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