An innovative project on the prevention of hospital-acquired infections developed at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) has been selected by Caixaimpulse, the first comprehensive programme in Spain for the creation of biotechnology companies, to receive financial support of up to 70,000 euros as well as a comprehensive programme of training and expert advice. The project, lead by Dr. Rafael Máñez, aims to establish a new treatment to prevent nosocomial infections, which will improve patient survival along with reducing hospital stays and associated costs.
Removal of antibodies with glycoconjugates
It is estimated that hospital-acquired or nocosomial infections are one of the leading causes of mortality both in Europe and the United States, affecting 10% of admitted patients. Gram-negative bacteria account for the vast majority of infections, and are associated with severe clinical conditions such as sepsis and septic shock.
Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of infection occurs when pre-exisiting non-neutralizing antibodies bind to a pathogen, facilitating infection instead of dampening it. The unique and novel approach developed by Dr. Mánez’s research group aims to boost immunity in these patients by deactivating non-neutralizing antibodies with glycoconjugates, thus priming neutralizing antibodies. This selective depletion of ADE antibodies by glycoconjugates will improve serum bactericidal activity and prevents mortality in experimental Gram-negative infections.
The use of glycoconjugates to boost immunity is a unique novel approach both for its mechanism of action and effect, which could become a very effective therapy to fight infections by Gram-negative. The possibility of boosting immunity by only depleting the non-neutralizing antibodies in the body represents a radical innovation as a therapeutic approach, which could also be used in other infections and cancer.
Valuation and commercialisation, pending challenges
According to the Innovation Union Scoreboard 2016 (IUS) report, Spain has cutting-edge infrastructure, first-rate research centres, and professionals. Nevertheless, it is ranked 21st in the European Union (EU) for innovation.
In order to help change this reality, Obra Social ”la Caixa” and Caixa Capital Risc launched CaixaImpulse, which uses their expertise in the fields of research, creation, development and investment in early-stage companies for a common aim: the transfer of research results to society.
Jordi Portabella, Director of Research and Knowledge at the ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation, and Carlos Trenchs, Managing Director at Caixa Capital Risc, presented all the selected innovative proposals yesterday. Of the 73 projects that were initially submitted, a committee of experts have chosen the 20 finalists, 3 of which belong to the field of life sciences, while 17 belong to the medical sciences and healthcare sectors.