IRB Barcelona spin-off to develop a diagnostic kit and new treatments for metastasis

Roger Gomis, ICREA researcher at the Institute of Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) has set up the spin-off Supragen. With the support of IRB Barcelona and the Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), this initiative is the second biotech company to emerge from the institute since June and the third since this centre was set up towards the end of 2005. Supragen seeks to develop a diagnostic kit and also new treatments for breast cancer metastasis. Registered in Barcelona, this new company is supported by base capital from the founding partners and expects to close negotiations for capital risk funding mid October.

Supragen is the result of the research performed by Gomis’ team in the Growth Control and Cancer Metastasis Lab at IRB Barcelona. These scientists have recently identified a gene with the capacity to predict the risk of metastasis of breast cancer to the bone. “Supragen will be directed toward two market opportunities at the same time”, explains Gomis. First, it will develop a series of tools to diagnose breast cancer patients with a high risk of suffering metastasis to the bone (the most common kind of metastasis in this kind of cancer). This will allow the design and modification of current treatments to adapt to the risk of each patient. In addition, the company will develop new therapeutic molecules that inhibit the gene as its activity is required for metastasis to bone. Thus this gene is an “excellent candidate” against which to direct inhibitors.

Supragen is the third biotech enterprise to emerge from IRB Barcelona laboratory benches. Technology transfer and the generation of wealth and wellbeing is one of the principal objectives of the center and an obligation to society on the part of researchers, as expressed in the institute’s statutes. The head of technology transfer at IRB Barcelona, Cristina Horcajada, explains that “this is an example of how top-class research can reach patients to increase their wellbeing and also how it can generate economic wealth for society”. Supragen joins the biotech companies Omnia Molecular, founded in 2005 by Lluís Ribas de Pouplana (ICREA-IRB Barcelona), and Iproteos, founded in 2011 by Ernest Giralt (IRB Barcelona-UB) and Teresa Tarragó (IRB Barcelona).