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University of Barcelona Group becomes shareholder in ImmunNovative Developments

This spin-off, one of the runners-up for the BioEmprenedorXXI award, is developing a new therapy to treat sepsis. 25% of patients in ICUs develop this infection.

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15.03.2011

BY BIOCAT

Cultura Innovadora i Científica, a company belonging to the University of Barcelona Group that manages participation in spin-offs, has signed a licensing contract with ImmunNovative Developments for two patent applications related to the use of recombinant human proteins for treating infectious diseases and inflammatory processes of the immune system. In exchange for this contribution, the UB Group has received shares in the company.

ImmunNovative Developments was the first runner-up in the latest edition of the BioEmprenedorXXI awards. Created by researcher Dr. Francisco Lozano –coinventor of the two therapies in the patent process– this spin-off is devoted to developing new biological therapies to treat sepsis and other inflammatory processes of the immune system. Dr. Francisco Lozano is head professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Immunology and Neurosciences at the UB Faculty of Medicine and senior consultant with the Immunology Unit at Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic.

Sepsis is a very serious infection caused in most cases by bacteria, which provoke a systemic inflammatory response. When this is associated with multi-organ failure, we refer to severe sepsis and septic shock, which is the most common cause of death in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

The socio-economic impact of sepsis, on a national level, costs the Administration €345 millions. This is the main expense facing the healthcare system, far above the second-ranked cause, myocardial infarction, which costs the system €80 millions. 25% of all patients in the ICU have sepsis and they spend on average 30 days in hospital.

Sepsis is clearly an unmet medical need, according to sources in the Cultura Innovadora i Científica. There are serious difficulties in correctly diagnosing sepsis in time. The current therapeutic arsenal to combat sepsis includes antibiotics, conventional support measures and C-reactive proteins (Xigris®), although their efficacy is limited. The new products ImmunNovative Developments is creating hope to be a better alternative, as they are a broadspectrum antimicrobial, don’t develop resistance and have shown encouraging results in animal models.

Proof-of-concept test to show the in vivo efficacy of these recombinant human proteins have been carried out thanks to aid from a number of sources, including a VALTEC grant from ACC1Ó and aid from the Santander Bank/UB Program for Valorization Projects, which is managed by the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation.

Cultura Innovadora i Científica of the University of Barcelona was created in 2003 and holds a stake in Enantia, Genmedica Therapeutics, Biocontrol Technologies and Neurotech Pharma. The aim of this body is to facilitate the creation of new technology-based companies, obtain economic and social return on the investment, and create new jobs for highly qualified workers.

Dr. Lozano (left) at the BioEmprenedorXXI awards ceremony held during the 2010 Biocat Forum - Photo: © Biocat, Héctor Fuentes.