Bioengineering is a core discipline for the medicine of the future, and Europe knows that. Proof of this is that the European Union (EU) has granted during the last months the coordination of three European projects to the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) to continue combining medicine, science and technology with the aim of improving people’s health.
The first one is the BRIGHTER project that is led by Professor Elena Martínez, the head of the ‘Biomimetic Systems for Cell Engineering’ group. The EU has contributed to this initiative that will be used by the consortium partners to develop an innovative high resolution 3D bioprinting technology able to fabricate 3D cell culture substrates which could be useful to produce artificial organs in the future.
The second initiative is the BLOC, project, which is led by the ICREA Research Professor and Group Leader Javier Ramón and the Postdoctoral Researcher Irene Marco, both of the ‘Biosensors for Bioengineering’ group. The EU is backing this collaborative Project that will be devoted to design a new technology capable of monitoring metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and to assess the response to some drugs.
Finally, through the nAngioDerm project, IBEC and their international partners will promote the development of new techniques for skin regeneration using nanoparticles. This initiative coordinated by Professor Elisabeth Engel, principal investigator of the ‘Biomaterials for regenerative therapies’ group at IBEC, is specifically focused in regenerating the tissue of chronic wounds and skin burns.
IBEC will be involved in these projects until 2022, but during this time the Institute will also continue to coordinate another European projects that have been ongoing for some time: Mechanocontrol, Theracat, NANOpheles, SPM2.0, RGS@Home and Hysplant.
Mechanocontrol project, which is led by the researcher Pere Roca, the Group Leader of the ‘Cellular and molecular mechanobiology’ group, is a five-year project funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The experts at IBEC and their international partners are using the EU funding to understand cellular mechanics from the scale of the molecule right up to the entire organism to come up with new therapeutic approaches for cancer and other diseases.
Theracat seeks to train a new generation of experts in bio-orthogonal catalysis for the treatment of cancer, whereas NANOpheles is focused on the design of polymeric nanovectors for the delivery of antimalarial agents and SPM2.0. promotes the training of experts in advanced microscopy.
For its part, RGS@Home seeks to develop a home version of Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS), a hospital-proven neurorehabilation technique in which post-stroke patients play virtual games to aid motor and cognitive recovery. Finally, Hysplant pursues a new imaging method to identify the embryos with higher implantation potential, which is a critical step in the in-vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle as one out of seven couples in Europe suffer from fertility problems.
Currently, IBEC has more than 300 researchers, eight of whom belong to the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), considered the elite of research in Catalonia. Among the milestones achieved in recent years by the experts of the Institute we can find the development of bioimplants enriched with stem cells or the generation of vascularized mini-kidneys that have helped identify a drug in clinical phase that blocks the effects of SARS-Co-V2