Gate2Brain, a spin-off of Sant Joan de Déu (SJD), Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona and University of Barcelona (UB) will develop a new drug using a shuttle peptide that crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to improve treatments for pediatric brain cancer.
. has been awarded 300,000 euro funding by the 2021 CaixaResearch Consolidate call. With this award, “la Caixa” Foundation will help Gate2Brain to advance its technology and reach the society. The ultimate goal of this project is to enhance the health and quality of life of children with brain tumors such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
DIPG is the most severe type of brain cancer, and it affects approximately two children per million yearly. Currently, there is no cure or effective treatment for this disease, and the median survival after diagnosis is only 8-11 months.
Although certain drugs show potent anticancer activity against DIPG in vitro, all of them have failed in clinical trials. The likely reason for such failure is that they cannot cross the BBB to reach the tumor. The BBB is a protective cellular barrier that allows only certain molecules from the circulating blood to get into the brain, and it prevents pathogens and other substances, including most anticancer medicines, from entering.
The spin-off Gate2Brain has designed a shuttle peptide that can carry drugs across the BBB to treat DIPG and other brain diseases. The company aims to carry out the preclinical validation of the new drug G2B-002. Gate2Brain shuttles can be adapted to a wide range of molecules, showing enormous potential to treat various brain diseases.
“Humankind has always dreamt of reaching the outer space and also the inside of our brain. At Gate2Brain, we dream of helping drugs enter the brain and thus of being able to treat pediatric cancers such as DIPG.”
Gate2Brain was launched in 2020, founded by Dr. Meritxell Teixidó, CEO of the company, with the participation of SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital, SJD Research Foundation, IRB Barcelona and UB. The Mind the Gap Program of the Botín Foundation invested €500,000 and endorsed the project through the incorporation of one expert entrepreneur as advisor. Shortly after its launching, the company received additional support from the BStartup Health Program of Banco Sabadell (€100,000). Located at the Barcelona Science Park, Gate2Brain collaborates actively with the Pediatric Cancer Program at the Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu.
GATE2BRAIN AND ANOTHER THREE INNOVATIVE BIOMEDICAL PROJECTS ARE STRENGTHENED BY THE SUPPORT FROM “LA CAIXA” FOUNDATION
In addition to the Gate2Brain project, other awardees include one project to develop synthetic cells for viral infections, a technological approach to overcome resistance and recurrence of cancer stem cells, and intelligent glasses to correct serious eye defects.
Beyond the funding of up to €300,000 per project, the awardees receive support in technology transfer, funding tools and negotiations, and mentorship by experts that help define personalized development and commercialization plans.
The 2021 CaixaResearch Consolidate call supported these projects to promote the transfer of knowledge and technologies in the field of biomedicine and health and to provide support for the creation of new research-based companies. The call remains open throughout the year to ensure that applicant projects receive adequate funding in a timely manner.