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HIGHLIGHTS: Covid-19, rounds of investment, new board of employers’ association and advances in HIV

Venture capital operations and scientific publications round out the few news stories this month on topics other than the pandemic

 

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24.03.2020

Each month, Biocat publishes a monthly summary of the most significant headlines involving companies and research organizations in the BioRegion. This month, logically, the news has been completely monopolized by Covid-19 and the resulting healthcare and economic crisis. We recommend you have a look at the Catalan initiatives that are doing research on Covid-19, the calls for grants currently open to fund this type of initiatives, and the clinical trials underway around the world to tackle the virus. You could also subscribe to the Biocat free press clipping service to get the latest news on this crisis every morning and follow us on social media.

That said, let’s look at some headlines that don’t involve Covid-19 from this month of March in the BioRegion of Catalonia. First, investment:

Asabys Partners announced its third closing and the incorporation of FondICO Global as its main investor, with €15 million committed. In this capital increase existing investors were joined by people from the medical technology world, like former president of Medtronic in Spain, Javier Colás, among other private investors. Plus, Asabys Partners announced Maite Malet has joined its investment team, to strengthen the therapeutic digital health area.

For its part, Inveready led a €1-million round of funding in Catalan start-up Qrem to develop a medical device. Also, Avançsa, the Government of Catalonia holding company, invested €1 million in medical-device firm Neos Surgery. And, also in the medical-device arena, Aortyx closed a €650,000 round led by Genesis Ventures. For its part, ZeCardio Therapeutics launched an €800,000 round of funding through Capital Cell to further development of its molecules in the more advanced stages. There has also been movement at Devicare, bringing Successful Ventures into its shareholders after expanding into Asia.

In terms of public funding, the European Commission has granted €3.4 million to Ability Pharma and Pharmacelera under the new Horizon 2020 call. Ability Pharmaceuticals has also been awarded €5 million blended financing from the Horizon Europe, European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot Program. The grant will fund a phase 2b clinical trial in advanced pancreatic cancer patients to investigate ABTL0812 in combination with the standard-of-care chemotherapy.

 

 

Names in the news

CataloniaBio & HealthTech got a new president and four members of the current board of directors (2018-2022):  Judit Anido, co-founder and general manager of Mosaic Biomedicals, is the new president of the employers’ association board and the new members are Marta Palicio, director of Innovation at Biokit; Carme Lagunas, R&D Strategy and Planning Advisor FAB at Ferrer; Alfons Nonell, CEO of The Patients Resource; and Joan Comella, CEO of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR).

There have also been changes in the board of directors at the Spanish Generic Medicines Association (AESEG), which has chosen Raúl Díaz-Varela, president of Kern Pharma and vice-president of the Indukern Group, as its president for the coming 2 years.

In research, Cristina Maragall Garrigosa was named president of the board of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, taking the place of her mother, Diana Garrigosa.

 

Research, beyond Covid-19

Catalan hospitals and research centers are totally focused on fighting Covid-19 right now, but we did read a few other news stories in the research arena this month.

This month, it was confirmed that the ‘London Patient’ has been cured of HIV and a third case of long-term remission has come to light: the ‘Düsseldorf Patient’. Both cases are being studied by the IciStem international consortium, jointly coordinated by the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute and University Medical Center Utrecht (Netherlands).

In oncology, researchers at IDIBELL have discovered that the human papilloma virus vaccine prevents 90% of all cervical cancer.

In other specializations, Vall d’Hebron participated in an international study that is drawing the largest genetic map of psychiatric conditions known to date; another trial involving Hospital Clinic has proven the efficacy of a monoclonal antibody for serious hereditary high cholesterol, and researchers at IMIM have discovered one of the key pieces for making blood stem cells in the laboratory. Their neighbors at ISGlobal have revealed in a study that adult weight gain is associated with greater decline in lung function. Plus, a study led by several research centers in the BioRegion has identified NCAM2 as one of the key proteins in formation of the hippocampus and cortex, brain structures that are key for cognitive learning.

Let’s finish off with awards and internationalization. The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) gave out its BIST Ignite Awards 2020, with a €50,000 prize each, to the BIOSPAD project, promoted by IFAE, ICFO and IMB-CNM; and the BIOVAC project, from groups at ICN2 and IBEC. The Eurecat technology center inaugurated its first international headquarters in Latin America, in Santiago de Chile.