BioCloud Research, a new consortium for research in Multiple Sclerosis, is created
The companies Intelligent Pharma, Neurotec Pharma and SOM Biotech –located at the PCB-Santander Bioincubator of the Barcelona Science Park-, together with Palo Biofarma and researchers from the Barcelona Science Park, have decided to create a research consortium to combine efforts and technologies for the design of new therapies for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), by means of the economic interest group (EIG) BioCloud Research. The four companies boast a renowned innovative prestige and are experts in their fields: Intelligent Pharma, in the development and use of innovative artificial intelligence-based computer technologies; Neurotec Pharma, in neurobiology; SOM Biotech, in the repositioning of drugs and Palo Biofarma, in medical chemistry. The GAEM Foundation, Group of People Affected by Multiple Sclerosis, -algo located at the Barcelona Science Park-, will also be joining this initiative. The Foundation's objective is to promote any action that is conducive to finding a cure for this disease. According to Vicens Oliver, president of the GAEM Foundation, "these types of initiatives are vital to help find therapeutic solutions for this disease".
MS is a chronic, inflammatory and demyelinating neurodegenerative autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. At present there is no cure for this disease which affects over 40,000 people throughout Spain (over 6,000 in Catalonia). After epilespy, it is the most frequent neurologic disease amongst young adults and one of the leading causes of paralysis in Western countries. It affects approximately 1 in every 1,000 people, especially women, and its age of onset is between 20 and 40 years.
BioCloud Research will employ two complementary approaches to the fight against this disease, the first being the design of new active principles and the second being drug repositioning (discovery of new applications for known drugs). The advantage of drug repositioning versus the design of new drugs (de novo design) is that the chosen drug can be quickly commercialised for use in MS. In the case of de novo drug design, this is not possible given that the new drugs must obtain positive results in all preclinical and clinical regulatory tests. The time elapsed between the beginning of the research of a new drug and the commercialisation of the potential drug is 12 years on average.
Intelligent Pharma is working on a new technology called Prometheus for the design of new drugs, which will use evolutionary algorithms to design new computer-based drug candidates. These candidates will be synthesised by Palo Biofarma and researchers of the Barcelona Science park, and their efficacy will be assessed by Neurotec Pharma in cell trials and animal models of the disease. SOM Biotech, in collaboration with Intelligent Pharma, will use its own computational technology, Helios, for drug repositioning in MS. Drug repositioning will consist of identifying a drug which has already been approved by the health care authorities in other therapeutic indications and that is effective in the treatment of MS. Once potential drugs have been identified, Neurotec Pharma will test the effectiveness of these molecules in in vitro and in vivo models.
The consortium has applied for the 2010 call of the “R+D cooperative nuclei” research grants programme promoted by the Catalan agency ACC1Ó, the winners of which will be determined within the next few months. Meanwhile, the BioCloud Research project, which began last May, has already made its first steps by establishing the different intervention protocols needed for the project’s correct development in the future.