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.
After a four years break due to the pandemic, the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), of which SEBiot has been Regional Office since 2003, is reconvening its biennial congress, to be held at the De Doelen International Congress Center in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), from 30 June to 3 July 2024.
The European Congress of Biotechnology #ECB2024 will have the overarching theme Grand Challenges of biotechnology: Health, Food Security and Global Warming, which can only be met through the collaboration of research institutions, industry and governments. Therefore, the scientific programme of the meeting will focus on how to translate frontier research into commercially viable applications.
The Congress programme includes plenary sessions, symposia, workshops and panel discussions, as well as a trade exhibition and networking opportunities. Already confirmed as plenary speakers are Sang Yup Lee, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Vice President of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), Chris Bowler, Principal Investigator of the Plant and Algal Genomics Group at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris, and John van der Oost, PI of the Bacterial Genetics Group at the Microbiology Laboratory of Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands) and CRISPR expert.
The Rotterdam event in 2024 will be the 19th edition of the ECB and will be held in conjunction with the 19th International Biotechnology Symposium of IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) and the Annual Conference of the Nederlandse Biotechnologie Vereniging (NBV), the Dutch biotechnology association. All three events were due to take place in 2020 and were postponed, reconvened and postponed again in 2021 and 2022, so access will be guaranteed, at no additional cost, for those who registered for the cancelled editions.
Registration and abstract submission for oral and poster presentations is now open. The deadline for abstract submission is 12 April 2024.
The #ECB2024 offers a reduced early bird rate for registrations made before 24 May 2024.
María José Hernaiz, president of SEBiot, and Professor Francesc Godia, from UAB, member of our society and vice-president of the EFB, are part of the Scientific Committee of the event.Registration Abstracts submission
For four days, from 17 to 20 July, the Faculty of Pharmacy of the UCM hosted the XVIII National Biotechnology Congress Biotec 2023, which brought together more than 200 researchers, students and biotechnology professionals to learn about the latest advances in our sector. Within this framework, Juan Mangas, from the Department of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oviedo, received the SEBiot Young Research Talent Award 2023, sponsored by Solmeglas.
Juan Mangas Sánchez obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Oviedo (2013), under the supervision of Vicente Gotor Santamaría and Vicente Gotor-Fernández (Department of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry), working on the design of new enzymatic processes to prepare compounds of pharmacological interest. In his first postdoctoral stage, he worked for two years in the group of Professor Patrick Adlercreutz, at the University of Lund (Sweden), where he studied the optimisation of enzymatic processes to obtain biodiesel and special triglycerides.
In 2015, he joined Professor Nicholas Turner’s group at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (UK) as a research associate to work on the discovery of new enzymes for the more sustainable preparation of chiral amines, compounds of great importance in the chemical industry. These enzymes are now used to prepare drugs on an industrial scale. As a result of these studies, he received the 2021 Rita and John Cornforth Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry, along with colleagues from the University of York and the companies Prozomix and GSK.
In 2020, Mangas joined the Institute of Chemical Synthesis and Homogeneous Catalysis (ISCQH-CSIC) in Zaragoza as an ARAID researcher to begin his career as an independent scientist. There he started to develop new lines of research combining different types of catalysts to prepare chemical compounds of interest in a more efficient way.
Recently, he joined as a Ramón y Cajal researcher the Department of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oviedo, where he was trained years ago. Juan Mangas has co-authored 40 research articles on the use of enzymatic catalysis in asymmetric chemical synthesis in prestigious international journals and has been awarded the Zaragoza Royal Society of Sciences Chemistry Award 2022 and the Thieme Chemistry Journals Award 2023.
“Receiving the award for young researchers in biotechnology from the SEBiot is something that makes me very excited”, explains Juan Mangas. For the researcher “it is an honour and tremendously gratifying that such a prestigious society as SEBiot recognises my professional career. At the Biotec 2023 congress, organised by the Society this week in Madrid, the high level of biotechnology in Spain was evident, which makes this recognition even more valuable. I am also very grateful to Solmeglas for sponsoring these awards”.
Four intense days
It is impossible to summarise in a few lines the content of a congress that offered almost 70 talks – including plenary lectures, keynotes and oral communications – distributed in seven tracks, four round tables, the presentation of almost 70 posters and several networking activities. On the social media profiles of SEBiot and many of the participants, using the hashtag #Biotec2023, you can see how the congress has been followed.
In this image gallery you can take a look at some of the highlights of Biotec 2023, an event that would not have been possible without the support of all our partners, sponsors and collaborating companies, whom we would like to thank once again for their participation and commitment.
Monday 17 July
Tuesday 18 July
Wednesday 19 July
Thursday 20 July
Sabine L Flitsch, Lluís Montoliu, Marisol Soengas and Víctor de Lorenzo will be the speakers at the four plenary conferences of the program of the XVIII SEBiot congress, Biotec 2023, to be held from July 17 to 20 at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
On the evening of 17 July (19:00 h), after the official opening of the conference, Sabine L. Flitsch, professor and researcher in the field of Chemical Biology at the University of Manchester, will give the first plenary lecture entitled Design and implementation of de novo biocatalytic cascades, in which she will talk about the most recent developments of her research group in the field of biocatalysis.
On Tuesday 18 July (12:30 pm) it will be the turn of Professor Víctor de Lorenzo, director of the Environmental Synthetic Biology Laboratory at the National Biotechnology Centre (CNB-CSIC), who will give the lecture Design meets evolution: Theory and practice. In his talk he will present his work in the field of synthetic biology to respond to environmental sustainability challenges, especially in the field of industrial activity. The session is sponsored by Darwin Bioprospecting Excellence.
Marisol Soengas, leader of the CNIO Melanoma Research Group and vice-president of the Spanish Association for Cancer Research (ASEICA), will talk about her research in the field of identifying biomarkers for cancer prognosis, diagnosis and treatment in her lecture Imaging and targeting premetastatic niches in melanoma on Wednesday 19 July (12:30 h).
The fourth plenary conference will take place on Thursday 20 July (12:00 h) and will be given by Professor Lluís Montoliu, researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas en Red en Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER-Carlos III Health Institute) and the Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia (CNB-CSIC), who will talk about Biotechnological Applications of CRISPR Tools and review the latest advances in the applications of this gene-editing technique.
The conference programme also includes three round tables on job opportunities for young biotechnologists (18 July, 17:00 h), the situation of university biotechnology studies in Spain (19 July, 15:30 h), and entrepreneurship and biotech companies in Spain and Europe (20 July, 11:00 h), as well as several tracks on food, environmental, industrial, plant and microbial biotechnology, biotechnology and health and biocatalysis, where the selected oral communications will be available. There will also be poster sessions on 18 and 19 July (14:30 h – 15:30 h).
For those interested in presenting abstracts at the congress, the deadline for oral communications is 30 May and for posters it is 15 June. Instructions and thematic areas for the presentation of abstracts are detailed on the conference website.More information and registration
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.
For more information, click here.
Gibberellins are phytohormones that play important roles in different aspects of plant development, such as germination or flowering, but also in plant adaptation to adverse environmental conditions. Researchers from the Spanish Centre for Biotechnology and Plant Genomics (CBGP) have shown that HOP co-chaperones participate in the signaling of gibberellins in plants.
The study, carried out in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, has shown that HOP co-chaperones (HSP70-HSP90 organising proteins) play an essential role in gibberellin signalling, binding to the F-box protein SNE and facilitating its accumulation and stabilisation. In this way, HOP proteins facilitate the degradation of the DELLA RGA protein, accelerating key physiological processes that depend on the gibberellin pathway, such as germination, flowering or plant adaptation to moderate increases in temperature. These studies are key to understanding how plants adapt to temperature increases associated with climate change.
The article has been published in Plant Communications (2023).
More information at CBGP website.
Three researchers from the University of Huelva (Rosa León, Patricia Gómez-Villegas and Ana Molina-Márquez) are part of the international team that unveils the role of carotenoids as antennae in the capture of light and its transformation into energy in the oceans and continental waters.
The study, published in the prestigious journal Nature, confirms that retinal proteins, type I rhodopsins (related to type II rhodopsins, responsible for vision in animals) are present in more than half of the non-photosynthetic bacteria and archaea in aquatic environments and that almost half of them may have a second chromophore group, which captures light and transmits it to the retinal. These rhodopsins act as proton or ion pumps, converting the sun’s energy into chemical energy and contributing to the bacteria’s metabolism. Researchers estimate that, in aquatic environments, this energy uptake by rhodopsin pumps may exceed that carried out in photosynthesis. The participation of hydroxylated carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are very abundant in nature, increases the range of radiation that rhodopsin pumps can capture and provides evidence of the importance that these pigment-antennas may play in rhodopsin-based phototropy and energy fluxes in oceanic and inland waters.
Until recently, the main pigments involved in the uptake and transformation of solar energy were considered to be chlorophylls, through photosynthesis, but the contribution of retinal, assisted in many cases by carotenoids, in aquatic heterotrophic organisms may be even greater than that of photosynthesis, revealing the importance of photoheterotrophy (metabolism based on the uptake of light and assimilation of organic carbon) and the need to further study this type of metabolism, as yet little explored, which may change the paradigms of matter and energy flow in nature and be of great importance in marine ecology.
The essential chromophore group of rhodopsins is retinal. To date, only two or three cases have been found of bacteria in which a second chromophore of an isoprenoid nature contributes to the uptake of light and its transfer to the retinal. Specifically, the ketocaroteoids salinixanthin and echinenone in Salinibacter and the cyanobacterium Gloeobacter violaceus, respectively. Salinixanthin, which acts as an antenna or secondary chromophore in xanthorhodopsin, is the most studied; it was discovered in the Marismas de Santa Pola, thanks to researchers from the University of Alicante (Josefa Antón, Science 2005). It is now revealed that the presence of this second chromophore group is not something exceptional or exclusive to extreme environments, but could be a very generalised fact, involving very abundant hydroxylated carotenoids.
You can read the full article here.
The CPV of the Future project has evaluated the use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a complement to advanced statistics and multivariate analysis to monitor ongoing bioprocesses. Professor Francisco Valero, leader of the Bioprocess Engineering and Applied Biocatalysis group (ENG4BIO) of the UAB Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, and Toni Manzano, from the company Aizon, specialized in the application of AI solutions in the pharmaceutical industry, summarize the main conclusions of the study.
CPV is the third stage of Process Validation, which is a requirement in the pharmaceutical industry during drug manufacturing. Since Stage 3 is typically a long manufacturing phase, extensive data is accumulated, trended, and analyzed during this stage. Thus, CPV highly recommends process automation, Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) and a deep knowledge of the manufacturing process and drug product in order to interact with the process, avoiding deviations and ensuring the expected product performance and product quality. Continuous variability is part of the reality around manufacturing biological operations and the established conditions (EC), critical quality attributes (CQA), and critical process parameters (CPP) are not enough to describe a real and complete picture of the bioprocess. Statistics and Multivariate Analysis can be complemented with artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate the on-going process. Under this context, artificial intelligence allows predicting, classifying, recognizing and recommending improvements to the process, which leads to enhanced product quality.
The CPV of the Future project was designed to obtain deep knowledge of the production of recombinant proteins under hypoxic conditions in the cell factory Komogataella phaffii, The applied methodology, the results and conclusions should be generalized across any biomanufacturing operation. Therefore, the identified AI opportunities to mitigate challenges introduced by uncertainty or to augment a continuous multivariate control in real time, provides an added value to the current Statistical Process Control. A set of fed-batches were produced to generate the raw data used to train AI Models which finally controlled the fed-batch process by giving real time feedback to the bioreactor based on the on-going acquired during the process, maintaining the respiratory quotient (RQ) on the set point acting on agitation rate (see figure). The first results obtained has been very promising considering the inherent variability of biological bioprocesses.
The Parenteral Drug Association (PDA) coordinated the CPV of the Future project and the PQRI (USA) and the Science and Innovation Ministry (Spain) partially funded the project. The project was designed to establish a standard procedure for continued process verification (CPV) in bioprocesses applying Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud technologies as valid mechanisms for the process control in drug manufacturing, The production of recombinant proteins under hypoxic conditions in the cell factory K. phaffii was selected as case study. The group of Bioprocess Engineering and Applied Biocatalisis (ENG4BIO) of the Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering of the UAB participates in the project providing the biotech SME, the set of experiments and the lab equipment for batch and fed-batch production. Infors and Bluesense provided the software EVE and the O2 and CO2 gas analyzers sensors connected to the bioreactor and Aizon brought the AI SME, IoT, cloud and AI tools for process control. The rest of the PDA team supported the project from a pharmaceutical perspective.