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Bringing breakthroughs in cell therapy to patient care requires meticulous and coordinated work. Based on this principle, the University of Barcelona (UB), Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, the Institute for Biomedical Investigation August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) announced this week that they will work together on a Cell Therapy Program (TCUB) to drive translational research in this field of science.

The new Program, which receives support from the Government of Catalonia –with 200,000 euros in investment over the next two years–, will coordinate 24 top-notch research groups. For now, 19 of these groups focus on clinical research (18 from IDIBAPS and one from IDIBELL) and the other five will contribute basic laboratory knowledge and belong to the UB Faculty of Medicine.

Professor Josep Maria Canals, from the Department of Cell Biology, Immunology and Neurosciences at the UB and coordinator of the TCUB, explained that the project will help share information on protocols, strategies and possible applications of different sources of stem cells; it will also study the basic mechanisms though which different types of stem cells work, develop new clinical applications for stem cells, and standardize protocols with appropriate procedures and infrastructures in accordance with the medications act for clinical use.

74 active research projects

The focus of this research is varied, including neurology and the musculoskeletal system, diabetes and metabolism, hemato-oncology, pulmonology, ophthalmology, immunology and infectious diseases, the digestive system, and transplants. In addition to sharing knowledge and developing new protocols to differentiate and grow stem cells, the Program also expects to organize seminars and work meetings, hire technical support staff and fund intramural projects.

Each team has their own resources, which they have obtained through competitive calls for proposals. In total, there are 74 active cell therapy projects, with a total budget of 3.5 million euros. 17 of these projects are international, 53 national and four from private foundations. The teams participating in the TCUB project also work on ten clinical trials funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN-ISCIII), with an approximate budget of 2 million euros. The project also expects to create a cell-growth facility with funding from the MICINN.

In addition to the aforementioned Catalan institutions, Transplant Services Foundation –a Hospital Clínic company–, the Clínic Foundation, the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation and the Josep Carreras Foundation will also participate in the Program. This institutional support gives TCUB a solid scientific base to position itself on both a national and international level.



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