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The second Vall d'Hebron Research Institute Health Innovation Contest (VHIR) has recognized a new therapeutic option for cancer patients, in the Biomedical Research Innovation category, and a surgical device for vascular anastomosis, in the Healthcare Practice Innovation category. The winners were selected from a total of 67 projects submitted. All of the hospitals in the Catalan Institute of Health (ICS) participated, as did 22 Catalan research centers accredited by the Institute of Health Carlos III and the ITEMAS network, as well as universities and foundations. In total, 234 professionals have worked on the ideas submitted.

The panel of judges –made up of representatives from Biocat, UAB, ESADECREAPOLIS, EADA, Bioemprèn, IESE, ASEBIO, Farmaindustria, FIPSE, Fenin and ACCIÓ– chose the winners through two rounds in which it assessed the projects’ protection strategy (whether or not the results are patentable), team structure, technical and financial feasibility, market readiness, novelty and impact on quality of life or life expectancy.

The award in the Biomedical Research Innovation category went to a project by the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology Mouse Models of Cancer Therapies group (VHIO), headed up by Laura Soucek. The project is called Pushing Myc inhibition to the clinic using cell penetrating peptides and aims to develop a new cancer therapy that targets the Myc protein with an inhibitor peptide. It has shown very promising preclinical results and hopefully use of Omomyc as a cell-penetrating peptide will expand the therapeutic options to fight many types of cancer.

The project entitled Development of a surgical device for sutureless vascular anastomosis won first prize in the Healthcare Practice Innovation category. This project is led by Jordi Descarrega, of the Hospital Clínic Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Unit. The device is designed for plastic surgery, specifically for free flap vascular sutures, as anastomoses are performed on small caliber vessels and conventional sutures are very difficult with a high risk of failure. However, they would like to extend use of the device in the future to other types of surgery, like maxillofacial, ENT, or cardiovascular.

The winning projects each come with a €5,000 prize, while the runners-up in each category received €2,500. The runner-up in the Biomedical Research Innovation category was the IDIBAPS Liver Hemodynamics group, led by Jordi Gracia-Sancho, for their project Liver on a chip. The team has developed a microfluidic camera that simulates hepatic microcirculation and could be used for in vitro diagnosis and studies.

The runner-up in the Healthcare Practice Innovation category was the Girona Institute for Biomedical Research Pediatric Endocrinology group, headed up by Albert Pla. Called Neonatologist at Home (NoaH)- Telemonitoring premature babies, the idea monitors premature babies in a home-hospitalization program using breakthroughs in mobile technology and artificial intelligence.

Special mention for the Project with the best-defined project went to Thoracic retention and safety device, led by Javier J. Pérez Acebo of the Parc Taulí Institute of Health Research and Innovation. It is used in patients with psychomotor agitation/drug intoxication to prevent hetero-aggressiveness.


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