News from CRG
Luis Serrano and Maria Lluch of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have founded Pulmobiotics S.L., a pre-clinical life sciences company using synthetic biology to develop new treatments and vaccines for various types of lung diseases. The company has secured €2,000,000 of seed financing from Barcelona-based Invivo Ventures, one of Spain's leading biomedical venture capital firms.
Respiratory system diseases are one of the main causes of death in the EU and include conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia or asthma. As of 2016, one in twelve EU citizens died from respiratory diseases, around 422,000 people in a single year. In Spain, this figure rises to one in ten citizens, and one in eight hospital discharges are related to respiratory diseases.
Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) is a type of lung infection that develops in hospitalized patients on mechanical ventilation machines. Around 400,000 cases of VAP occur annually in Europe and the USA, killing between 3 and 17% of all affected patients and increasing hospitalization costs between $25,000 and $40,000 per patient in the USA.
To develop novel treatments for lung infections like VAP, Pulmobiotics will engineer attenuated bacteria to deliver specific therapeutic agents, one of the most promising applications of the nascent field of synthetic biology. Engineered bacteria can 'smartly' deliver a precise amount of therapeutic molecules to the affected tissue, overcoming many of the limitations of current treatments. The company’s aim is to develop a product that reduces the use of antibiotics required to treat VAP and is ready to be tested in patients from 2023 onwards.