Biofilm project is sixth Caixaimpulse success for IBEC

IBEC is celebrating its sixth Caixaimpulse success, with Eduard Torrents’ project ‘BiofilmChip: personalized treatment for biofilm infections’ winning support in the programme’s fourth round.

Working in collaboration with Josep Samitier’s Nanobioengineering group, BiofilmChip will develop an easy-to-use device that allows biofilm-forming bacteria to be grown in vitro, enabling clinicians to evaluate the efficency of various antibiotics and determine the best individualized treatment for biofilm-infected patients. 20 projects from all over Spain and Portugal were awarded in this fourth round, selected from a total of 85 submissions.

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“Chronic infections caused by the formation of biofilms by microorganisms like bacteria and yeast – which include urinary tract infections and dental plaque, as well as more dangerous conditions such as endocarditis and infections in cystic fibrosis patients – are particularly resistant to current antibiotics, and account for over 60% of treated infections,” says Eduard, who heads IBEC’s Bacterial Infections: Antibiotic Therapy group. “At the moment, antimicrobial susceptibility testing is used to help clinicians decide on treatments, but this test only considers free living bacterial populations and doesn’t reflect the real situation of bacteria growing in biofilms.”

As well as allowing the growth and quantification of bacterial biofilms in vitro, BiofilmChip’s microfluidic device will also serve as a high-throughput platform to screen for new antibiofilm molecules. “Not only will it improve the quality of life and reduce the currently very high morbidity of patients with bacterial biofilm infections, but it will also help diminish the problem of multidrug resistant bacteria in the long term,” says Eduard.

It’s the second time Eduard has won support from Caixaimpulse, which is promoted by the Obra Social “la Caixa” and organized jointly with Caixa Capital Risc, and aims to promote technology transfer in science. In 2015, his project RNRbiotics, which aims to develop new antimicrobial agents effective against resistant bacterial infections, was awarded, as was Dermoglass for the Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group.

In its lifetime, a total of 58 projects have been funded by Caixaimpulse. Six out of IBEC’s seven Caixaimpulse submissions have been successful, with Core Facilities’ Mateu Pla getting funding in collaboration with Hospital Clinic in 2017 for 3DBIOcores and Pere Roca-Cusachs’ Solid Tumor Therapy and Monica Mir’s ISCHEMSURG winning in 2016.