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Research, Antimicrobial Resistance

ISGlobal Receives ‘Barcelona Activa’ Award to Accelerate the Development of a New Class of Antibiotics

The goal of the preaccleration programme is to promote the creation and growth of high-impact technological enterprises in Barcelona


Barcelona Activa has awarded the fourth edition of its Preacceleration Programme Prize to the “Innovative Metal Antibiotics” project presented by ISGlobal, an institution supported by “la Caixa”. The programme, supported by the Barcelona City Council and co-funded by the European Union, aims to promote the creation and growth of technological enterprises.   

In April of this year, Barcelona Activa selected ten start-ups with a significant technological component and in different sectors ranging from artificial intelligence and internet of things, to circular economy. The project presented by ISGlobal researcher Sara Soto in collaboration with Marina Espriu, from ISGlobal’s Innovation Department, seeks to develop a new class of antibiotics based on gold complexes, which have shown great potential against multiresistant bacteria belonging to the ESKAPE group, responsible for most hospital-associated infections and considered priority targets by the WHO.  

Over several months, Soto and Espriu followed an entreperneuship course and worked on the business plan to defend it, together with four other finalists, before a jury made up of 20 prominent figures in the field of innovation in Catalonia. The jury met on September 25 and designated ISGlobal’s project as the winner.

“It is important that they prioritised a health project, recognising the urgent need to find new solutions to the antimicrobial resistance threat,” says Soto. “The gold complexes have given very encouraging results in the laboratory,” she adds. “They represent a new class of molecules, we believe their mechanism of action is different, and they have a synergic effect with other antibiotics, which means they could be used in combined therapies.”

The prize consists of a financial contribution of 5,000 € and the right to use space of Barcelona’s Activa MediaTic incubator during six months.

“We are currently working to internationalise the project and launch the preclinical and clinical studies needed to evaluate the product’s safety and efficacy and take it to the market,” explains Espriu.