Project leaderJosep M. Canals
Participating organizationsUB, Ferrer, BST, BMF, Bioibérica, Butler Scientifics, CMRB, FBiG, FCB, VHIR, IBEC, IGTP, (FIR-HSCSP), FLeitat, IDIBAPS, IDIBELL, Qrem, UAB, Acció, Biocat
To set up a network of Catalan centers involved in advanced therapies (cell therapy, gene therapy and tissue engineering) to boost research and speed up development of new products. Several innovative projects from this arena will be taken to clinical practice.
ADVANCE(CAT) is a project led by the University of Barcelona and Ferrer International, pooling the expertise of 18 organizations ranging from large pharmaceutical corporations to clinical research start-ups and even a soccer team (Fútbol Club Barcelona). Plus, the project is open to new collaborations. ADVANCE(CAT) is part of the NEXTHEALTH community, coordinated by Biocat and co-funded by the Government of Catalonia through ACCIÓ (Agencia para la Competitividad de la Empresa) and the European Union, under the framework of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Catalonia 2014-2020 program, as part of the RIS3CAT strategy.
Most significant challenges
Most advanced therapies are in the early stages and it is important to join forces to speed up development and transfer to clinical practice and industry. The main challenge this project faced in its first year was to build a fast-acting, effective structure to promote collaborations among partners and allow for precise monitoring of the results. Additionally, the diseases to tackle are very different.
The main challenge for the future is to ensure the continuity of the consortium after the community project is finished and to get the funding needed to move forward with the project and its collateral projects.
There are 5 clinical trials underway on advanced therapies, including an ARI trial for lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia and an HIV vaccine. Advances have been made in tissue engineering therapies, including the use of mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue and umbilical cord blood for myocardial regeneration.
So far, more than €1.8 million has been raised in research projects from sources like H2020, GenCat, ISCIII and MINECO and 10 scientific papers have been published in prestigious international journals.