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The groups of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) led by Ernest Giralt, of the Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology programme, and Miquel Pons, of the Computational and Structural Biology programme, will carry out research projects in order to find more efficient methods of obtaining medicines with two Catalan biotechnology companies, Lead Molecular Design of Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona) and Intelligent Pharma of Barcelona.

The financing of 200,000 euros and 100,000 euros of each of the projects is provided by the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the programme Knowledge Transmission to Enterprise (TRACE), which promotes interaction between the different actors of the science and technology system, in this case, between basic research laboratories and business enterprises.

Miquel Pons, specialist in Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), has teamed up with Lead Molecular Design to develop and validate software that achieves improved performance of an innovative strategy called fragment screening. This strategy is based on searching for small molecules that interact, even slightly, with proteins of interest. Afterwards the fragments are combined chemically to obtain powerful compounds. Through NMR, low-intensity interactions can be detected among the fragments and the target proteins. The IRB Barcelona team will contribute this technology and its experience in the design of medicines. Groups from the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) and from the Institut Químic de Sarrià will also collaborate in this project.

Intelligent Pharma and the group from Ernest Giralt’s Peptide Design and Synthesis will collaborate for two years in order to verify the effectiveness of the Helios 2.0 technology, directed towards the search for molecules of therapeutic interest in the fields of AIDS, hypercholesterolemia and in multi-resistant bacterial infections. As Giralt explains, the Helios 2.0 technology uses computers to anticipate which molecules will have certain therapeutic properties and “our function will be to verify, in the laboratory, up to what point these predictions are precise”.

IRB Barcelona has among its missions to transform basic research in innovation and to strengthen ties with the biotechnological sector. During 2009, its research groups participated in 20 projects with the national and international industry.


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