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By Biocat

Palobiofama, a biotechnology company based at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), has begun clinical trials of its first drug candidate, the compound PBF-509, a potent antagonist of the adenosine A2a receptors. The drug, discovered, developed, and patented entirely by Palobiofarma, is a very innovative treatment that aims to improve movement and cognitive disorders in patients with Parkinson's disease for which there are only drugs with a palliative effect. This is the first Spanish drug -and one of the few in the world- that acts on this new therapeutic target and that reaches clinical phase testing.
“We are very pleased with the way our research projects are progressing. Receiving the approval of the Spanish Agency of Medicines and the initiation of clinical trials with our first compound to treat Parkinson was the most important goal of the entire team of Palobiofarma for this year 2012. The accumulated experience has also opened the way to complete the preclinical development of our second compound, a novel oral treatment for allergic asthma, which will commence clinical trials in the first quarter of next year," said Dr. Julio Castro, CEO of Palobiofarma.

Both projects will be developed up to proof of concept in humans (Phase II) which, according to the development plan of the company, will finalise end 2014 to be subsequently licensed to pharmaceutical companies. "We have also begun the regulatory preclinical development of two other new products, aiming of having next year one of the most attractive pipelines in the Spanish biotech landscape," says Castro.

This past month of May, Palobiofarma closed its third round of funding in the amount of one million Euros, led by Inveready Seed Capital, Fitalent —the venture capital fund of Everis— and Genoma España, which participated in the operation through a joint venture agreement. This capital contribution adds to the public funding the company received from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under the Innpacto Programme in 2011 and the Innocash Programme in 2010.

In total, the biotech company has more than two million Euros at its disposal for the development of its business plan for the period 2012-2013. "100% of the capital contributed to the company so far is Spanish, which makes us feel especially proud of the achievements made so far," said Castro.

Adenosine and the beneficial effects of caffeine

The research field of Palobiofarma, adenosine receptors, is an area with huge potential for development. Adenosine, an endogenous substance produced in the body regulates several vital functions (such as heart rate, memory, inflammatory processes and energy balance) through interaction with four receptors A1, A2a, A2b and A3.

The decisive role played by the modulation of these receptors in the genesis and progression of various pathologies has been widely reported in the scientific literature for over 30 years. Recent studies have also shown that the stimulatory and neuroprotective effect produced by some infusions such as coffee or tea, is due to the interaction of the caffeine with the A2a adenosine receptor, which might explain why some neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's take longer to develop in people who regularly drink coffee.

Despite all these advances, there is currently no drug in the global market based on the modulation of adenosine receptors. This is due to the complexity of interactions and functions regulated by adenosine and the difficulty in obtaining sufficiently potent and selective molecules against their receptors.

Now, after more than five years of research, Palobiofarma is the first Spanish biotech that has succeeded in developing an extensive intellectual property portfolio around the compounds that modulate these receptors.

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