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Nostrum BioDiscovery team (Photo: BarcelonScience Park).

Nostrum Biodiscovery joins Barcelona Science Park

Nostrum Biodiscovery, a spin-off created thanks to the transfer of technology from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS), has moved to Barcelona Science Park. Combining its own technologies with the best modelling software on the market, the company provides in silico services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to accelerate and optimise the design of therapeutic molecules and enzymes, and overcome the common “bottlenecks” in the most initial stages of drug discovery.


Nostrum Biodiscovery (NBD) began operating in September 2016 thanks to two leading Catalan scientists in the field of biocomputing and computational biology – Modest Orozco, professor at the UB and ERC Advanced Grant of IRB Barcelona, and Víctor Guallar, ICREA research professor at BSC-CNS – together with Robert Soliva, a Doctor in Computational Chemistry, with more than a decade of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

The launch of company was also possible thanks to the strategic participation of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG) of the University of Barcelona (UB), Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estduis Avançats (ICREA), and the Botín Foundation, as a catalyst for technology transfer through its Mind the Gap acceleration programme.

“There are several reasons that have prompted us to settle in Barcelona Science Park: access to an ecosystem focused on biomedical sciences; a top quality research from both academic and industrial organizations that make up the PCB community and the advantages that come from being physically close to Dr Orozco’s group, one of the founding groups of the company”, says Robert Soliva, CEO of NBD.

Frontier technologies for precision medicine

NBD is specialised in accelerating incipient drug discovery projects and the development of enzymes through a combination of biocomputing tools, which speed up and increase the accuracy of studies prior to the launch of drugs and biotechnological products. To do this, it has both its own technologies, transferred from BSC-CNS and IRB Barcelona, and one of the most recognised platforms in the industry, the set of Schrödinger, Inc. programs.

“The impact of computational simulation in the process of drug discovery is increasingly significant. All public and private research groups, which focus their activity on the discovery of new clinical candidates, make increasing use of in silico technologies that, being directly related to the increase in computing capacity, are increasingly powerful and significantly reduce the time and cost of the drug development process” explains Modesto Orozco, chairman of NBD.

The in silico services from Nostrum BioDiscovery make use of supercomputing technologies and focus mainly on two early areas in the search for molecules with therapeutic potential:  “Hit finding” and “hit-to-lead”.  Through a virtual screening platform, the NDB team finds new chemical entities against a biological target in reduced time and with low costs (“hit finding”); through simulation techniques coupled to supercomputing, the development leads is optimised (“hit-to-lead”).

“The great competitive advantage of NBD lies in the cutting-edge biocomputing technologies developed over many years by its founders in their respective institutions, the IRB Barcelona and the BSC-CNS, combined with its supercomputing capacity and the great industrial experience of its technical team. All this makes us a benchmark for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies”, says Víctor Guallar, director of the NBD Scientific Advisory Board.

Public and private projects of disruptive innovation

Indeed, the NBD team has already successfully applied its cutting-edge technologies in both Industrial and academic projects. Currently, the company provides computational chemistry services to companies such as Almirall and Esteve, and develops technological programs with AstraZeneca and other large European and North American multinationals. It has also started to operate in the field of enzyme engineering with multiple Spanish, British and American companies.

In addition to drug design and enzyme engineering services, NBD leads several disruptive drug discovery public projects  in multiple areas –from cancer to schizophrenia and rare diseases– in collaboration with research groups from IRB Barcelona, the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL). The first patent applications related to these projects have already been submitted to the European Patent Office (EPO).

The excellence and innovation of NBD biocomputing technologies have also generated several publications in leading scientific journals in this field. Among the most recent publications we find: J Chem Theory Comput (DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.9b00753), J. Chem. Inf. Model (DOI:10.1021/acs.jcim.8b00347) and Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-52319-x).