Skip to main content

Biotech companies Intelligent Pharma, Neurotec Pharma and SOM Biotech –located in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) bioincubator- together with Palo Biofarma and researchers from the PCB, have decided to create a research consortium to join forces and technology to design new multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies. They have done this through an economic interest group (AIE), which they have called BioCloud Research.

These four companies, which all share an innovating spirit, will contribute their expertise in the different areas of action: Intelligent Pharma in the development and use of innovative IT techniques based on artificial intelligence, Neurotec Pharma in neurobiology, SOM Biotech in drug repurposing and Palo Biofarma in medical chemistry.

The GAEM Foundation (Association of Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers) –also located at the PCB- will join the initiative in an institutional role. According to Vicens Oliver, president of this foundation, "this type of initiative is key to finding therapeutic solutions to this disease”.

MS is a chronic, autoimmune, demyelinating, inflammatory neurodegenerative disease. There is currently no cure for this disease, which affects more than 40,000 people in Spain (more than 6,000 in Catalonia). After epilepsy, it is the most common neurological disease among young adults and one of the most frequent causes of paralysis in the western world. Approximately one in every thousand people suffers from MS, particularly women, and it is normally detected when patients are between 20 and 40 years old.

Collaboration among experts

In the fight against this disease, BioCloud Research will attack the problem from two complementary points: designing new active ingredients and repurposing drugs (discovering new applications for drugs that have already been approved).

In order to design new drugs, Intelligent Pharma is working on a new technology that will use evolutionary algorithms to design possible new drugs with a computer. These candidates will be synthesized by Palo Biofarma and researchers at the PCB, and tested for efficacy through mobile trials and animal models by Neurotec Pharma. SOM Biotech, in collaboration with Intelligent Pharma, will use the Helios computational technology developed by the latter to repurpose drugs for MS. Repurposing drugs is done by identifying a drug that has already been approved by healthcare authorities for other therapeutic indications and could be effective in treating this disease. Once these potential drugs have been identified, Neurotec Pharma will test the efficacy of the molecules in their in vitro and in vivo models.

According to the driving forces behind this project, the advantages of repurposing a drug versus designing new ones is that the chosen drug can be marketed quickly. However, for newly designed drugs this is impossible because they must pass preclinical and clinical regulatory tests. On average, a drug takes twelve years to go from the research stage to market.

The consortium has submitted to the 2010 call for research grants for Cooperative R&D Nuclei launched by the Catalan agency ACC1Ó, which will be decided in the next few months. In the meantime, BioCloud Research has already taken the first steps toward starting up the action protocols they need for the future development of the project. 


Sign up for our newsletters

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, events and trends in the BioRegion.