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The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès and the ministers Nadal and Balcells, with the award winners. Photo / Rubén Moreno.

Eduard Batlle receives the National Research Award, and IRB Barcelona and ICREA, the National Innovation Award for the spin-off Nuage

The Catalonian National Research Awards 2023 have distinguished in their main category Dr Eduard Batlle, ICREA research professor and head of the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory at the Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), located in the PCB. Additionally, IRB Barcelona and jointly with the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) have also been awarded in the Innovation category for the Creation of a Science-Based Company, for promoting the spin-off Nuage Therapeutics, which develops selective drugs targeting intrinsically disordered protein regions that cause difficult-to-treat diseases, such as prostate cancer.

The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès i Garcia, accompanied by the Catalan Minister for Research and Universities and President of the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRi), Joaquim Nadal i Farreras, this afternoon led the award ceremony for the Catalonian National Research Awards 2023, which was held at the National Theatre of Catalonia, attended by some 700 representatives of the Catalan research and innovation system.

These awards, now in their 34th year, are the highest distinctions in the field of research in Catalonia. Organised by the Catalan Government through the FCRi, they promote the social recognition of science and activity in research, patronage, business, entrepreneurship and communication.

Eduard Batlle, winner of the National Research Award for his cutting-edge research into colorectal cancer

Dr Eduard Batlle, ICREA research professor and head of the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory at IRB Barcelona, has been awarded the 2023 National Research Award, which distinguishes the researcher in the Catalan research and innovation system who has contributed to the advancement of a scientific discipline during his or her professional career.

The award recognised his cutting-edge research into the systematic characterisation of the architecture of colorectal cancer, as well as internationally pioneering discoveries in understanding its metastatic spread that have led to new therapeutic treatments now in clinical trials.

With a degree in Biological Sciences and a PhD in Biology from the University of Barcelona (UB), Batlle is a world leader in research into the relationship between colorectal cancer (CRC) and intestinal stem cells, as well as their metastasis. The lab he leads has identified residual tumour cells hidden in the liver and lung, revealing how they evolve into metastasis of colorectal cancer in these organs. In addition, their research in preclinical models has shown that early immunotherapy, performed before surgery, can eliminate these cells before they metastasise, which could prevent relapse in colon cancer. These contributions, which today inspire cancer researchers around the world, are opening up new avenues for developing treatments and diagnostic tools to slow the progression and improve the prognosis of a disease that affects millions of people worldwide.

IRB Barcelona and ICREA, winners of the National Innovation Award for promoting Nuage

IRB Barcelona and ICREA have been awarded the National Innovation Prize for the Creation of a Science-Based Company for their promotion of Nuage Therapeutics, founded by researchers Dr Xavier Salvatella, Dr Mateusz Biesaga, Dr Denes Hnisz and Dr Judit Anido, who is currently the CEO.

Photo / Nuage Therapeutics.

The company, based in the PCB, focuses its activity on the discovery and development of selective drugs aimed at intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), therapeutic targets that, due to their structural properties, were not accessible until now. The biotech’s patented disruptive technology platform, born from the convergence of biophysics and chemical biology, exploits the phenomenon of biomolecular condensation. Its main programme targets castration-resistant prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men, but also prevents the development of a strong portfolio in other untreatable cancer indications.

Nuage Therapeutics is the seventh spin-off to emerge from IRB Barcelona. In 2023 it closed a €12-million financing round, led by Sofinnova Partners, and Asabys, with the participation of CDTI Innovation and BStartup. Part of the technology developed by the biotech company was funded by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) and the “la Caixa” Foundation through its CaixaResearch Validate programme.

For more information: IRB Barcelona [+] and FCRi [+] websites.