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Researchers at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia on the Terrassa Campus have developed a biodegradable non-woven nanofiber membrane that can be reabsorbed by the body, with anti-tumor drugs designed to treat the area where a tumor has been removed after surgery, in order to eliminate any remains that may have been left behind.

The product was patented by Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and licensed in 2012 to Cebiotex, a spin-off based at the Barcelona Science Park

This drug-delivery system is used for local treatment of cancer and aims to be an alternative to radiotherapy, the most common treatment for patients after surgery.

According to the company's cofounder and CEO, Joan Bertran, the product is less toxic and more effective than radiotherapy and, moreover, can improve survival and has fewer side effects. One of the aims of Cebiotex is to avoid radiotherapy in patients who are still growing, like children.


What has Cebiotex developed?

The treatment Cebiotex proposes consists in placing a fabric membrane on the surgical site after removing the tumor, so it can act directly and locally on the affected area with high doses of the drug administered through the nanofibers. This disruptive technique is easily adaptable to the surgical site and easy to use.

Now that researchers have proven the efficacy of the system in animals, they've begun paperwork to obtain authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and hope to begin preclinical and clinical phases soon. The first product was designed for soft tissue sarcomas (STS), although they hope to develop other nanofibers for adult and childhood cancers, including breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer, and glioblastoma, among others.


How is the project funded?

Since it was set up as a company, Cebiotex has been funded by 58 private investors and Hospital Sant Joan de Déu. In February 2015, the company raised €500,000, with most of the capital coming from Caixa Capital Risc and ENISA.

In order to complete this new phase it is tackling now, the company has opened a new round of crowdfunding with Capital Cell, looking to raise €300,000 from private investors interested in owning a stake in the company.

In fact, it is the second round of funding the company has managed through this alternative funding platform, which specializes in biotechnology. The first, also valued at €300,000, was fully funded after only 11 days with individual investors and business angels from ESADE BAN and SHIP2B. Between the first and second rounds, the company participated in the SHIP2B B-Ready acceleration program.

Cebiotex has chosen the Capital Cell funding option because it wants to promote the project in a way that ensures it is not only used for adult cancers –which, as they are more prevalent, are of greater interest to traditional investors given their higher profitability– but also for childhood cancer, an orphan disease that receives little attention from the pharmaceutical industry given its low frequency.

Joan Bertran explains that, once they have begun the clinical phases, they plan to sell the company in full or part to a pharmaceutical corporation. Cebiotex participated in BioemprenedorXXI in 2013 and was one of the runners-up. In March 2016 the company participated in the 16th edition of the Healthcare Investment Forum, held by Biocat and other organizations.


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