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The Comparative Medicine and Bioimage Centre of Catalonia celebrates its fifth anniversary

  • CMCiB celebrated its first five years of activity with a symposium dedicated to pioneering biomedical research at CosmoCaixa.
  • Prominent researchers and health professionals shared success stories developed at the centre and discussed the future of fields such as personalised medicine, bioimaging, and robotic surgery.
  • The centre has established itself as a reference point for transferring research advances to hospitals through preclinical research and surgical training in new technologies at both national and international levels.

Yesterday, the Comparative Medicine and Bioimage Centre of Catalonia (CMCiB), a strategic project of the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP), celebrated five years since the start of its activities with the event "CMCiB Symposium: 5 years Enabling Pioneering Biomedical Research". The symposium took place at the Science Museum ' CosmoCaixa Barcelona and gathered 200 people from the biomedical sector and medical industry.

The former and current directors of IGTP, Dr Manel Puig and Dr Jordi Barretina respectively, and the director of Biocat, Dr Robert Fabregat, welcomed the attendees. Dr Puig explained the challenge that creating CMCiB posed and expressed pride in the project's success. For his part, Dr Barretina talked about the opportunities the centre provides and is optimistic about the future.

 

The event's host, the science journalist Dr Pere Renom, introduced Dr Joao Lima, a prominent internationally renowned cardiologist from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States. Dr Lima talked about imaging targets for the personalised prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Next, a video shown that reviewed the centre's history, infrastructures, and services, highlighting the major achievements of CMCiB during its first five years. The video underscored the centre's positive impact on the dynamisation of biomedical research in the bioregion. Its state-of-the-art infrastructures and technologies, along with its commitment to the 3Rs principles and good laboratory practices, have made CMCiB an attractive option for addressing health challenges faced by research institutions and companies developing medical solutions and technologies. The video concluded with testimonials from people and researchers closely linked to the centre, who congratulated CMCiB on its milestone and shared the opportunities this unique infrastructure has provided them.

The symposium was a unique opportunity to showcase scientific and technical advances in a wide range of medical specialties. The first session focused on projects by researchers from the Can Ruti Campus who work to find solutions to unresolved health problems through novel approaches and a modern vision of personalised and precision medicine. They presented their collaborations with CMCiB and answered questions from the audience. Participants included Dr Pere-Joan Cardona, leader of the Clinical and Experimental Microbiology Unit (UMCiE) at IGTP and Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital (HUGTiP), Dr Verónica Rodilla, head of the Cancer heterogeneity and hierarchies group at Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute (IJC), Dr Carmen Aguilar, senior researcher of the Virology and Cellular Immunology group at IrsiCaixa, and Dr Marta Vives-Pi, leader of the Immunology of Diabetes Group at IGTP and scientific director of Ahead Therapeutics.

Dr Cardona talked about the fruit fly Drosophila as an experimental model in medicine and its potential to replace rodents in studies on infectious diseases. Dr Rodilla explained the usefulness of preclinical models specifically designed to understand intratumoral heterogeneity and cellular hierarchies, a specialisation that favours reducing the number of animals needed. Following this, Drs Aguilar and Vives-Pi discussed the potential of immunotherapy treatments to address currently incurable health problems. Aguilar presented a new platform of virus-like particles for developing neoantigen-based melanoma vaccines, while Vives-Pi explained the key role of experimental models in validating the biodistribution and effectiveness of the immunotherapy developed by their spin-off for type 1 diabetes and how bioimaging tools enable the use of the minimum number of animals.

The second session was dedicated to success stories in research and technological innovation closer to the patient. Speakers included Ricard March, director of CEYC and R&D in clinical and preclinical development at HIPRA, Dr Joan Sánchez de Toledo, head of the Heart Area and Paediatric Cardiology Service at Hospital maternoinfantil Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, Dr Joan Vidal-Jové, medical and research consultant at Histosonics Inc. in the United States, Dr José M. Balibrea, head of the Endocrine-Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Unit at the HUGTiP, and Natalia París, global marketing director at iVascular.

March has highlighted the collaboration between CMCiB and HIPRA during the COVID emergency due to the role the centre played in validating the efficacy of their vaccine. Next, Dr de Toledo has talked about the development of a medical device to monitor and prevent irreversible brain damage in infants through the European project TinyBrains, where the use of paediatric animal models is essential. Dr Vidal-Jové has explained the application of the non-invasive histotripsy technique to disrupt tumour tissue and activate the immune response against malignant cells, becoming a new possible therapy for certain types of cancer. For his part, Dr Balibrea has talked about the future of robotic surgery and the advances it represents in surgical precision and patient safety, refuting the idea that technology will replace human skill in surgery. Finally, París has described the complexity and challenges faced by companies in the design and commercialisation process of medical devices, using her experience at iVascular, a company that develops intravascular medical devices, as an example, highlighting the stages from conception to market implementation.

The final session of the event was a round table on the role of imaging in personalised medicine, chaired by Dr Victoria Delgado, scientific director of the CMCiB. She participated along with Dr Gemma Monté, head of bioimaging at CMCiB, Dr Lima, Dr Bart Bijnens, ICREA research professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), and Dr Maria de la Iglesia, principal investigator of the Joint Unit FISABIO-CIPF Biomedical Imaging. Each provided their perspective, discussing the role of imaging in heart or population studies, as well as artificial intelligence tools and image banks.

The event was closed by Sara Capdevila, technical director of CMCiB, who spoke very positively about the day and took the opportunity to acknowledge all the technical staff who support the research and who, with their commitment and dedication, accompany researchers in achieving their objectives, always preserving the essential value of responsible research that follows the 3Rs principles in animal model research: "The 3Rs are fundamental for the responsible development of science. Our commitment not only improves the quality of what we do but also enhances our ability to translate research results into tangible improvements in clinical practice. Bioimaging is a clear example of this application. The different technologies applied transversally across the centre minimise the use of animals while maximising the impact of our studies".

Dr Miriam Gironès, business development director of CMCiB, highlighted the centre's potential for transfer and collaborations: "Today's symposium underlines the strong potential for collaboration and innovation at CMCiB. We are excited to continue fostering relationships that allow us to advance research and translate it into practical applications beneficial to the scientific and medical community and ultimately to society as a whole".


The CMCiB symposium was made possible thanks to the support of Canon Medical, the Faculty of Medicine of UVic-UCC, PFB Serveis Funeraris, Falco Quality, SOGESA Instal·lacions Integrals, Matachana, and the Sociedad Española para las Ciencias del Animal de Laboratorio (SECAL). In collaboration with "la Caixa" Foundation.


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