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12/09/2012 - General information

New public-private open innovation project

The project- based on a collaboration agreement between the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) and the companies SOM Biotech and Metasbio– will enable the discovery of new therapeutic applications of previously existing drugs (repurposing), especially in areas of great medical need and market potential, such as the central nervous system, oncology and orphan diseases.

The project has received funding from the Genome Spain Foundation, through the Innocash program, in order to proceed to the experimental validation phase and patentability for each disease selected by means of in vitro and in vivo assays.

A public-private open innovation project to discover new drugs based on repurposing (repositioning)- the result of a collaboration agreement between the Drug Discovery Platform (DDP) at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) and the companies SOM Biotech and Metasbio, both located at the PCB, has obtained a grant of 441,884 Euros from the Genome Spain Foundation through the Innocash credit line.

The goal of this project is to develop new applications for 20 drugs that were previously identified by the DDP within the framework of the ChemBioBank initiative, which represents Spain in the European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology (EU-OPENSCREEN) program.

Initially, the three partners have selected therapeutic areas characterized by a high medical need and market potential, particularly central nervous system diseases, orphan diseases, and oncology.

The process of drug discovery and development is adding new paradigms such as public-private partnerships and open innovation, enabling the search for synergies with biotech companies and / or academic institutions to use common infrastructures, to share data and materials or to access new technologies. This project is an example fully aligned with these new paradigms "- says Jordi Quintana, head of the Drug Discovery Platform and Technical Director of Scientific Business Development at the PCB.

The public funding through Innocash that has now been obtained is a milestone in a process of knowledge transfer between public and private entities that began in late 2011. Through a project partially financed by the Catalan agency ACC1Ó, the Drug Discovery Platform worked with the start-up Chemotargets -created in 2006 by Dr. Jordi Mestres from the IMIM (Hospital del Mar Barcelona Institute for Medical Research )- for the purpose of studying, through its software, the possible new therapeutic targets of compounds available in a chemical library, that had been launched to the market or were in advanced clinical stages.

"Repositioning existing drugs in therapeutic areas other than the ones they were approved for, is emerging as a potential strategy to lower potential risk in the long and costly process of drug development. In recent years, Chemotargets has worked in a software program that allows to efficiently identify the most plausible alternative therapeutic areas for drugs. We are, therefore, delighted that some of our predictions have attracted the interest of this consortium and look forward to seeing the validation results very soon "- says Jordi Mestres.

Subsequently, through a knowledge valorization project (VALCON), also partially financed by ACC10, the DDP at PCB worked with Dr. Fermin Goytisolo, founder partner of Metasbio- a consulting firm specializing in the biotechnology sector-, with the aim of studying the possibilities of developing a group of molecules selected from the DDP-Chemotargets previous project. "It was a great satisfaction for us to see that such an ambitious and well built project has obtained funding in an environment of scarcity in terms of public funding. This is an example of how two grants from ACC1Ó have contributed to the transfer of technology from the public to the private sector resulting in a project that has just been granted funding from Genome Spain "- says Fermin Goytisolo

The results of all these studies allowed to establish a group of about 200 compounds for which it was possible to provide new therapeutic targets compared to those published, and to relate these targets with diseases with which they could be associated, to predict new therapeutic applications (repurposing ) for these molecules.

Finally, the SOM Biotech company -directed by Dr. Raul Insa and specializing in the development of drug-repositioning projects– signed a collaboration agreement with the PCB and Metasbio, which prioritised a group of these compounds in order to proceed to the real validation by means of in vitro and in vivo assays. In order to develop this experimental phase of the project and to be able to obtain worldwide intellectual property protection of new medical applications, SOM Biotech recently received an Innocash grant, managed by the Genome Spain Foundation.

According to Raül Insa, "this great project is a unique and clear example of how public institutions, experts and technology start-ups, with a reduced but necessary public funding, are able to turn knowledge into value and transfer it to a company like SOM Biotech, which is in a phase of strong growth."

"The lack of pharmaceutical productivity requires one to sharpen inventiveness, and the repositioning of drugs is one of the most successful ways of doing that today. A recent report from Thomson Reuters shows that repositioned drugs are expected to generate up to 20 billion dollars in annual sales throughout 2012. SOM Biotech has its own bioinformatics platform and the Innocash project allows us to diversify in the search for new compounds and expand our product portfolio "adds Dr. Insa.

About the Drug Discovery Platform (DDP) at the PCB

The Drug Discovery Platform (DDP) is a technology platform at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) created in 2007 with the aim of incorporating technology and project management services to public and private research and development institutions in the field of drug discovery. The services offered by the DDP are addressed to the chemical-pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, food, veterinary and biomedical sectors, among others, as well as research groups from universities and research organizations in the public sector. The activity of the DDP is focused on the application of computational technologies and analysis of databases in the process of R&D of new compounds with therapeutic activity, from the early phases of drug discovery to the clinical research stage. 

About SOM Biotech

Som Innovation Biotech, SL is a pharmaceutical start-up company based at the Barcelona Science Park funded in 2008, whose mission is the research, discovery, identification, experimental demonstration, intellectual protection and licensing of new applications and medical indications of marketed drugs (repositioning or reprofiling). The identification is carried out by means of a proprietary virtual screening technological solution. SOM offers a wide portfolio of products under development in different therapeutic areas. 

About Metasbio

Metas Biotech, SL (Metasbio) is a consulting firm specializing in biotechnology based at the PCB. The company, founded in 2003, focuses its activity on the evaluation ranging from science projects to investment proposals by non-specialized agents, but it also carries out market studies and business plans, provides advice and consultation services on capital expansions and launching of start-up biotech companies. Its clients include GalChimia, the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Clave Mayor, CAN and the Marcelino Botin Foundation.

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