A research on multiple sclerosis led by researchers from the Regional Hospital of Malaga, belonging to the Group of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis of the Biomedical Research Institute of Malaga (IBIMA), has been awarded with one of the four prizes of the second edition of the IDEA² Global program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of Boston (USA).

The research project 'Recombinant protein for the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis' contemplates the development of a molecule as a drug and the clinical implementation of a tool to detect a serum biomarker that contributes to the diagnosis of this pathology.

Designated iSOL, the project is based on the cloning of a recombinant protein - achieved in the IBIMA laboratories, located in the Hospital Civil - which has shown to have immunomodulatory, antiproliferative and antiviral activity, for which reason it is being investigated as a potential therapeutic molecule (drug ) for multiple sclerosis and for other diseases.

Currently, the research team is formed by the biologist Begoña Oliver, as principal investigator, along with Laura Leyva, clinical biochemistry, María Jesús Pinto, biologist, and Patricia Urbaneja, neurologist, all of them are part of the Neurosciences research group of the Regional Hospital and IBIMA Researchers Teresa Órpez, José Pavía and Margarita Suardíaz have also contributed to the research. It should be noted that this line of research was initiated more than ten years ago by the neurologist Óscar Fernández.

Together with the Malaga project, two other Spanish health innovation projects, sponsored by the Foundation for Health Innovation and Prospective in Spain, FIPSE, have been awarded: one provides innovations in the diagnosis of endometrial cancer and another in intubation tracheal in anesthesia. In this way, Spanish researchers have won three of the four prizes of the second edition of IDEA² Global Awardees, to which they have opted for 15 international projects of which 6 were endorsed by FIPSE.

Prior to the awards, the Malaga team, along with 14 other international research projects, was chosen for the international mentoring program that supports emerging innovators to develop their technological ideas, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in the They worked for six months. The end of the program was to present the technological idea in front of an expert tribunal that evaluated it and selected the winners, of which three were Spanish, one of them was the Regional Hospital of Malaga.

In this sense, the main researcher, Begoña Oliver, admits that the achievement of the MIT award "is a recognition of work, a distinctive note to capture the attention of the project since it is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. We hope to give an important boost to this line of research and achieve the attainment of financing that allows us to advance with its development and thus reach the market, "he says.

The iSOL project is currently in the preclinical phase and, if the results support it, in the future it will enter the clinical development phase. Thus, the researchers are beginning contact with pharmaceutical companies to continue with the development of the molecule, since "being a biological product still requires a great development to reach the market," says the main researcher, who points out that they should do more validation studies regarding the serum biomarker.

For Oliver, the mentoring program has meant an evolution in the initial approach, "because it gives the keys so that the product can be commercialized, how to identify a need or indicate in a very explicit way what are the advantages in order to attract the attention of potential investors ".

The projects presented by FIPSE are part of its International Mentoring program that is developed in collaboration with MIT. Its objective is to support the most innovative biomedical technologies and their promoters to turn their ideas into products and services that have a real impact on health care.

Source: University Regional Hospital of Malaga