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Scientific Transfer

Innopharma increases capacity for early drug discovery and development

  • Xunta de Galicia has provided five million euros to this platform over the last three years through the European Regional Development Fund.
  • The funding received will strengthen the high-capacity drug discovery platform of the European research infrastructure consortium ERIC EU-OPENSCREEN, through the acquisition/updating of scientific and technical equipment and the creation of jobs for personnel specialised in the use of new technologies.
  • In addition to supporting biomedical research teams from Galician universities and health research institutes in the creation of health-oriented products and services, the Innopharma drug discovery platform seeks to arouse the interest of tractor companies and new professionals, in order to generate more qualified employment, increasing the competitiveness of the sector.

The Innopharma drug discovery platform, led by USC CiMUS researchers Mabel Loza and Ángel Carracedo, has increased its capacity and international competitiveness. This milestone has been made possible through the allocation of five million euros by the Galician Innovation Agency (Gain) of Xunta de Galicia over the last three years through the REACT-EU Fund within the Galicia ERDF Operational Programme 2014-2020.

"With this funding, the Innopharma Platform will be able to continue fulfilling its objective of contributing to bringing new drugs to patients, offering biomedical research groups of the Galician University System and Health Research Institutes, as well as the scientific community in general, its support in the generation of health-oriented products and services", said Mabel Loza during her speech at the presentation event of the Innopharma Platform update and expansion.

The event took place today at the CiMUS with the participation of the Vice-Rector for Science Policy of the USC, Pilar Bermejo; the director of Gain, Patricia Argerey, the representative of the company ABAC Therapeutics, Domingo Gargallo, and the coordinators of this project, Ángel Carracedo and Mabel Loza.


Sustainable High Throughput Platform 
Since its creation, the Innopharma drug screening and pharmacogenomics platform has incorporated the most innovative and cutting-edge technologies, which has allowed it to be accredited as a High Capacity Platform of the ERIC EU-OPENSCREEN European Consortium of Research Infrastructures. "Technological advances in recent years have made it necessary to incorporate different technologies and the digitalisation of processes in order to gain efficiency in the process and reduce the generation of polluting waste," says Mabel Loza.

The funding received made it possible to acquire and update the project's scientific and technical equipment, hire personnel specialised in the use of new technologies, and adapt the facilities to the new equipment acquired.

Loza and Carracedo explain that the funds received have enabled the incorporation of automated methodologies and technologies compatible with Big Data processing, with the aim of increasing the capacity of the Galician R&D&I system for the early discovery and development of drugs in Galicia and thus strengthening the Galician healthcare system with the necessary infrastructures to accelerate this process.  

In addition, this ERIC pharmacogenomics platform of the USC enables the attraction of international projects, as well as playing a relevant role in the development of automated translational technologies with cutting-edge research infrastructures.


Objective: automation with tailor-made infrastructures and specialists 
In terms of the acquisition and updating of scientific and technical equipment, systems for the digitalisation of work processes in the laboratory were incorporated; compound management automation systems; test plate management automation systems using ultrasound dispensing technologies; and automated high-performance microscopy systems. Servers for fluorescence microscopy image analysis and storage; new equipment for compound effect analysis by flow cytometry and high-throughput screening technology based on mass spectrometry were also acquired.

The upgrade of the real-time fluorescence equipment for use in the screening study of cardiomyocytes and neurons; equipment for quantification of the electrical activity of cells and high-throughput real-time genotyping and robotisation; cell culture cooling and incubation systems; the automated platform for real-time analysis of cell metabolism and mitochondrial function and additional equipment for performing secondary hit validation assays, are also part of the new technological incorporations.

The acquisition of this new equipment entailed the incorporation of specialised personnel for its start-up and operation, through the hiring of a team of seven researchers and a team of four ICT specialists. In addition, the facilities were adapted to the new needs, adapting the laboratory spaces and furniture to the use of the new equipment.

Increasing the competitiveness of the sector
In addition to supporting biomedical research teams from Galician universities and health research institutes in the creation of health-oriented products and services, Innopharma seeks to arouse the interest of tractor companies and new professionals to generate qualified employment, increasing the competitiveness of the sector.

Specifically, the new endowment, which allows the automated management of millions of compounds/drugs, has already generated a collaboration agreement/Joint Unit with the company ABAC Therapeutics for the screening of compound collections with the aim of identifying new molecules, future antimicrobials, that are active against resistant bacteria, which is currently one of the main global health problems.  

This platform currently consists of a high-performance infrastructure for drug screening, with highly specialised professionals, and a collection of 60,000 molecules for the development of projects in this field. Its capabilities have led to agreements with dozens of research centres and companies around the world.