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HIGHLIGHTS: New Biocat Report, news on funding, groundbreaking hospital techniques and an emotional goodbye

The sector has said goodbye to CEO of UPF Ventures Àlex Casta in a month with less activity than usual

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18.12.2018

The combination of several holidays and the upcoming Christmas festivities traditionally makes December a month with few noteworthy news stories in the Catalan healthcare and life sciences sector.

Nevertheless, the sector has filled newspaper pages this month thanks to the presentation of the latest Biocat Report. More than 300 professionals from the sector attended the event to present the study, held at the AXA Auditorium and presided over by the President of the Government of Catalonia Quim Torra. If you missed it, check out the main figures from the Biocat Report on this website or download the full report to read over the holidays.

At the presentation of the Biocat Report, participants held an emotional minute of silence for UPF Ventures CEO Àlex Casta in a sudden and unexpected goodbye.

 

News on funding

One of the most noteworthy headlines from the Biocat Report is the increase in international investment. Just this month, Spiral Therapeutics closed a $3.7 million round led jointly by North American funds Camden Partners and Savoir Capital. With this funding, the company expects to take its LPT99 molecule to treat hearing loss into phase I trials.

Ability Pharma has closed a €1.2 million round. The campaign, which took place on the Capital Cell platform, will go to fund cancer drug ABTL0812.

Of the publicly traded companies, MedcomTech has approved a capital increase of more than €3 million to restructure its liabilities. Plus, it has launched a plan to restructure its subsidiaries. For its part, Oryzon Genomics has received €1 million from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and in ERDF funds to research new treatments.

 

News from pharma

Among pharmaceutical companies, Almirall will refinance a €400-million bridge loan it used to acquire the medical dermatology division of US company Allergan this summer. In that same market, Almirall has signed a collaboration deal with North American biotechnology company X-Chem to develop oral compounds for skin conditions.

Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi are the laboratories with the best reputation in Spain, according to the fifth Healthcare Reputation Monitor (Monitor de Reputación Sanitaria - MRS). The top 25 also includes Esteve (14), Rovi (16), Kern Pharma (18), Ferrer (19) and Almirall (22).

Pharmalink has invested €6 million to expand its production plant in Vilabella (Tarragona), adding 2,000 square meters to increase production and include new technology among its products.

 

Advances and awards in biotechnology

Genesis Biomed has led the process to create the first innovation spin-off of EIT Health. The Catalan consultancy has invested €100,000 to start up Quality Pharma Medtech through Genesis Ventures.

Devicare announced positive results from its clinical trial on the medical device Lit-Control to prevent catheter encrustations in patients with lithiasis.

Minoryx Therapeutix announced it has finished recruiting patients for its phase II/III clinical trial on MIN-102, a drug to treat adrenomyeloneuropathy.

Cofounder and CEO of GoodGut Mariona Serra won the 2018 FIDEM Award in Innovation from the International Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs. Additionally, Atrys Health won the European Commission Rising Star Award for emerging SMEs.

 

Innovation in research and news from hospitals

The Josep Carreras Leukemia Foundation and Hospital de Sant Pau presented the first clinical trial in Europe on CAR-T immunotherapy to treat T lymphoma and Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Hospital Clinic has successfully applied a groundbreaking technique to remove malignant kidney tumors. The technique is an improvement on partial nephrectomy that aims to avoid full extraction and the need for dialysis when possible.

Also, Bellvitge University Hospital and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have developed a treatment with glycopolymers to treat hospital infections without using antibiotics.

A research team at the University of Girona (UdG) has isolated breast cancer stem cells using 3-D printing, a method that cuts costs for experiments. This methodology allows researchers to search for biomarkers to fight the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Also in oncology, Vall d’Hebron University Hospital conducted a groundbreaking surgery in locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma using intraoperative radiofrequency. Plus, a midwife at Vall d’Hebron Hospital has designed a cushion to correct improper fetal position and help open up the pelvis, avoiding cesareans.

Furthermore, Clínica Bofill Girona has inaugurated its new Oncology Unit, the first private healthcare unit of its kind in the region.

One final headline of the month was that the Government of Catalonia will take over management of Sant Joan Hospital in Reus before the end of 2019 through CatSalut.

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