The fourth edition of the Gínjol Patents Fund (CERCA institute) will support ISGlobal with funding for a knowledge transfer project that seeks to identify new biomarkers of Chagas Disease through the analysis of extracellular vesicles. Of the 18 proposals submitted this year, eight were selected.
“The fact that a global health project receives this type of support is a very positive signal, and could help improve the health of millions of people worldwide,” says Marina Espriu, Business Development Manager at ISGlobal, an institution supported by “la Caixa” Foundation. “This shows that it is possible to obtain funding for innovation in areas with little profit but high social impact,” she adds.
Chagas Disease is mostly asymptomatic and therefore rarely diagnosed or treated. However, around 30% of chronically infected patients will develop cardiac or digestive alterations that can be lethal. The problem is that disease diagnosis is complex and laborious, and the existing drugs are not very effective in treating chronic disease. Furthermore, there are no available biomarkers to help determine whether the patient is responding to treatment.
Extracellular vesicles are nanovesicles secreted by most cells, including unicellular parasites, and present in most biological fluids. Carmen Fernandez-Becerra’s team and the Chagas team led by Joaquim Gascon, have shown that vesicles obtained from chronic Chagas patient contain specific proteins from Trypanosoma cruzi (the parasite that causes the disease), and that these proteins disappear if the treatment is successful. Therefore, T. cruzi proteins associated with extracellular vesicles could be valuable biomarkers not only for detecting parasite presence but also for evaluating the efficacy of new treatments.
“We must now make further progress in the identification of biomarkers for therapeutic response or for cardiac alterations in patients, and develop the tools to measure them,” explains principal investigator Fernandez Becerra. “This funding will be of great help to advance in the protection of intellectual property and in market launch studies,” adds Espriu.
About the CERCA-Gínjol Patents Fund
The CERCA institute decided to develop an agreed funding programme with the CERCA centres, to support their knowledge transfer projects, specifically in terms of protecting intellectual and industrial property rights. The funds allocated are used to financing the services needed to protect, exploit and market the results of research generated by these centres.