On 5 December, the sixth annual report of the agreement of the Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE) for transparency in animal experimentation was presented. Spain was the second country to adopt this agreement, which has the highest number of signatories in the world: 166 organisations in our country, including SEBiot.
The presentation was attended by Isabel Fabregat, IDIBELL researcher, coordinator of the COSCE committee and member of the area of life sciences and health, Amanda Sierra, Ikerbasque researcher at the Achúcarro centre and deputy coordinator of the COSCE committee, Javier Guillén, representative of AAALAC International and EARA, and Lluís Montoliu, researcher at CNB-CSIC and CIBERER-ISCIII, representing the other members of the COSCE Committee for the Study of the Use of Animals in Scientific Research. Montoliu pointed out that this year a total of 159 organisations (96% of the subscribers to the agreement) have responded to the survey to prepare the report, and that their responses show the strong commitment of the Spanish scientific community to transparency in the use of animals in scientific experimentation.
According to the survey:
- 72% of the signatory entities have published news on their institution’s website related to animal research.
- 76% have participated in scientific outreach activities (10% more than in the previous year) and 86% have provided access to external visitors (5% more than in the previous year).
- Since the first report in 2018, reference to the use of animals in research in relation to the media has increased from 37% to 67%.
- 17% of the organisations have an institutional policy on the communication of animal models used in research in press releases and communiqués, and 34% intend to implement it in the future.
- 100% have an institutional statement on the use of experimental animals on their website, and 82% have this statement visible in three clicks or less from the homepage.
Ten countries now have agreements on transparency in the use of animals in scientific experiments. Alongside the UK and Spain, which were the first, similar agreements have been signed by scientific bodies in Portugal, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia. There is a growing awareness that, as long as the use of animal models remains necessary for scientific research, it is essential to communicate to society, in terms that are accessible to everyone, all the work that is done with animals in biomedical research and its relevance to human and animal health. This is underlined in the article En experimentación animal debemos ser muy transparentes, written jointly by the members of the COSCE Commission for the Study of the Use of Animals in Scientific Research and which has just been published in the Spanish edition of the online newspaper The Conversation.Download the sixth COSCE report Presentation video
Experts gathered today at the workshop Sustainable plastics & EU-policies. Challenges & opportunities for industry and academia, organised by the EFB’s Biobased Materials Division with the collaboration of SEBiot, have stressed that in order to make progress in the sustainable production of plastics it is essential, on the one hand, to make the entire production process economically viable and, on the other hand, to have an appropriate legislative framework that favours and prioritises the production of circular plastics.
Of the 400.3 million tonnes of plastic produced in 2022, only 38 Mt were circular plastics, i.e. plastics recycled mechanically after use (8.9% of the total), chemically recycled (0.1%), bioplastics (2.3%) or plastics produced from CO2 capture (less than 0.1%). These figures, set out in the speech by Irene Mora, representative of the Plastics Europe association, highlight the long road that remains to be travelled to achieve sustainable plastics production, which drastically reduces their environmental impact.
Europe has been losing weight in global plastics production (from 28% in 2002 to 14% in 2022) to China (which today produces 32% of all plastics worldwide) and other Asian countries, but has been gaining weight in the production of recycled plastics (21% worldwide) and bioplastics (27%), although circular plastics still only account for 19.7% of all European production.
According to John McGeehan, a consultant and expert in plastics recycling and residue, much more collaboration is needed between teams working in basic research, environmental research, business and non-governmental organisations. “Much more research is needed to simplify processes and solve the challenges of industrial scale-up, as well as economic and environmental analysis, because these factors are key to industry transforming and changing its current methods,” he said. However, other experts believe that even if the technological challenges are solved, change will not happen without the right legislative framework.
The first session of the workshop, moderated by María Auxiliadora Prieto (CIB-CSIC), vice-president of SEBiot, was also attended by Mikael Muegge, from the company Susfert, who presented the problem of the presence of microplastics in most fertilisers currently in use – added by the industry to slow down nutrient dispensation – which is a major problem of contamination of agricultural soils.
The second session of the workshop, moderated by Lucia Gardossi from the University of Trieste (Italy), discussed the European legislative framework on sustainable plastics and, in particular, the provisions of the EU Green Deal and the PPWR (Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation), with the participation of Chloe Johnson (Circular Bio-based Europe, Belgium), Lara Dammer (Nova Institut, Germany), Hasso von Pogrell (European Bioplastics, Germany) and J. Erica Nuñez (The Ocean Foundation, USA).
The event, which was held online, was attended by more than 90 participants.Information on world plastics production
The US biopharmaceutical company Kriya Therapeutics, specialised in the development of gene therapies, has acquired the spin-off of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) Tramontane Therapeutics, co-founded by Dr Fátima Bosch, director of the Centre for Animal Biotechnology and Gene Therapy (CBATEG) at the UAB, and Professor Francesc Gòdia, member and former president of SEBiot.
Tramontane is a private gene therapy company focused on developing treatments for metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. With the transaction, Kriya acquires a portfolio of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF21) assets including Tramontane’s lead program, an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector designed to express a steady level of the native FGF21 protein. FGF21 has beneficial metabolic effects across several target organs including the liver. Importantly, FGF21 has been established as a clinically-validated biological target in Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) , which Kriya has prioritized as its lead FGF21 program.
The one-time intramuscular AAV gene therapy designed to express native FGF21 protein is a novel approach to treating NASH with significant potential for a better efficacy, safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile than other products in development.
“We are very impressed with the data associated with the Tramontane FGF21 program, which has consistently established strong efficacy and durability across multiple validated animal models of obesity and NASH,” said Shankar Ramaswamy, M.D., Co-Founder and CEO of Kriya. “The addition of Tramontane’s FGF21 program strategically aligns with our Metabolic Disease portfolio which also includes a one-time gene therapy candidate for insulin-dependent diabetes.”
Kriya’s FGF21 gene therapy for treating people with NASH can eliminate the problems of complying with complex medication regimens by being a single intramuscular administration of AAV vectors. It can also improve the distribution of the therapeutic protein in tissues and provide a constant level of circulating native FGF21 protein. It therefore has the potential to offer therapeutic efficacy over several years in the context of chronic disease.
“People with NASH are in desperate need of better treatment options and FGF21 is a clinically-validated target for preventing fibrosis in this disease,” said Fátima Bosch, Ph.D., Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UAB, Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientific Advisor of Tramontane Therapeutics, and Kriya Scientific Advisory Board Member.
NIMGenetics, a Spanish biotech company dedicated to human genetic diagnostics and a SEBiot partner, continues its expansion in Europe with the acquisition of the Swiss diagnostic company Gene Predictis, a leader in the field of preventive health and precision medicine.
With this acquisition, NIMGenetics aims to strengthen its international expansion, with a focus on Central European markets. Thanks to the synergies of both companies’ portfolios and the strong customer growth they have experienced in recent years, NIMGenetics will position itself with this acquisition in a leading position in the European genetic diagnostics market.
The location of Gene Predictis in the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) will allow the Spanish biotech company to position itself in a context with a strong innovative component, within an environment focused on the biotech, pharmaceutical and food tech industries.
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Today we echo the great news for the scientific world, especially in the field of biotechnology, as it is the selection of Sara García Alonso as a future astronaut. She studied the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biotechnology at the University of León, where she received two awards for her academic excellence.
From the Spanish Society of Biotechnology (SEBiot) we cannot feel more proud to see selected for such an important challenge a scientist in our field, trained in a university closely linked to the origins of SEBiot.
SEBiot was created in the 80’s, in the framework of BIOTECNOLOGÍA 86m the first nacional biotech congress, organized by Juan Francisco Martín, born in León, president of SEBiot from 1989 to 1994, and now honorary member of our organisation.