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The project entitled Design, synthesis and evaluation of the antiviral activity of new HIV entry inhibitors by professors José Borrell and Jordi Teixidó of the Molecular engineering group in the Department of Organic Chemistry at the Sarrià Chemical Institute (IQS) have been granted the Expoquimia award for Chemistry recognizing the groundbreaking nature of their project for its applications in treating AIDS and in fighting cancer. This work has led to the generation of new inhibitors of the CXCR4 molecule, which causes infections provoked by HIV and is also involved in the appearance of cancerous tumors. Discovery of these inhibitors allows for the creation of a new, more efficient drug in fighting both of these diseases.

This work has been funded, initially, by the La Marató de TV3 Foundation and, later, by the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Various articles have been published on this work in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling and ChemMedChem, among others, and abstracts have been included in the spotlights of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

After pre-clinical efficacy has been demonstrated, with the patent license from Janus Developments, the group will consider transferring the agent to a partner from the pharmaceutical sector to conduct the corresponding clinical phases in order for it to be fully developed as a drug.

Honorable mention went to the business project presented by Nanomol Technologies, from professors Jaume Veciana, Nora Ventosa and Santi Sala of the Molecular Nanoscience and Organic Materials Department at the Barcelona Institute of Materials Sciences, which belongs to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). This initiative has developed a processing platform to obtain small-scale molecular materials (micro and nano) to manufacture new drugs. This new platform can design and control the size of a product more efficiently, which can then be encapsulated in order to administer nanomedicines.

In the Biotechnology category, the award went to Bioglane, a spin-off of the CSIC founded by doctors Pedro Clapés, Jesús Joglar, Josep Lluís Torres and executive Sergi Pumarola. Bioglane has developed a patented biotechnology process to create D-fagomine, a molecule that inhibits glucose consumption and, thus, works as an appetite suppressant. D-fagomine can be applied to create new diet compounds.

In this category, the judges’ honorable mention went to the project entitled Development of biphasic films to treat post pneumonectomy bronchopleural fistula by Dr. Eva Martín del Valle of the University of Salamanca Department of Chemical Engineering. The use of films made up of hundreds of small organic molecules —fibrin (a protein involved in blood clotting) and barium alginate (a chemical substance made from seaweed) polymer films— allows for rapid regeneration of lung tissue in patients recovering from surgery in which part of this organ has been removed.

The Expoquimia 2011 awards ceremony will take place on 15 November during the closing of the International Year of Chemistry at Barcelona’s Gran Via Fairgrounds. The award comes with a diploma, a commemorative medal and a €5,000 prize in each category.

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