Catalonia to have a national center for advanced therapies for serious diseases

Catalonia will have a national center for advanced therapies, which are the great hope for treating serious diseases. The Govern has approved this Tuesday the creation of this center, which will pivot on the. Banc de Sang i Teixits, a public company of the Conselleria de Salut. The project will be presented in two months (“three at the most”, according to the ‘conseller’ Manel Balcells) and in it will be invested, at least, about 20 million euros per year from 2022 to 2025.

“Advanced therapies are a medicine for human use based on the treatment with cells In the case of cell therapies, with genes in the case of gene therapies or tissues,” said the ‘conseller’ de Salut, Manel Balcells, after the Consell Executiu press conference. “[Con la creación de este centro] We are not thinking about a great work, nor in a physical space, but in a networking by taking advantage of the competencies we already have,” he clarified.

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One of the advanced therapies most in vogue in recent years are. CAR-T: immunotherapies which, in Spain, are for the time being directed at the multiple myeloma or to the acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The hospitals Clínic and Sant Pau, in Barcelona, are the only ones in the country that already manufacture their own CAR-Ts. The Ministry of Health began financing the one at the Clínic in February 2021, so that this revolutionary treatment (which consists in genetically modifying the patient’s blood) is now part of the portfolio of services of the Spanish public health system.

“Everyone talks about the stem cells, regenerative surgery, CAR-T cells that are used to treat some types of cancer. When we talk about advanced therapies, we are referring to these cell and gene therapies that are having a lot of uptake for curing unsolvable diseases.” explained the ‘conseller’.

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From trials to drugs

According to him, the center must ensure the “access” for patients, “increase” the capacity of hospitals to conduct clinical trials and “define industrial scale-up” of these therapies. A center of this type would thus be in charge of the clinical trials until drug development.

“Catalonia has a very high scientific level in these therapies and in comparable medical bioengineering to any European country. But we also have a first-class hospital network. The two hospitals in Spain that have tested CAR-T are Clínic and Sant Pau,” said Balcells. The “worldwide trend”, he specified, is moving toward advanced therapies.

Balcells emphasized that Catalonia has a “powerful ecosystem” and “start-up companies” that will act as a “cushion”. In addition, he has assured that the future Catalan center will use the “capacities” of the Banc de Sang i Teixits, on which “will pivot the pre-industrial part” of the center.

“We have the capabilities and we have the players to develop this tool in the coming months. The project will thus be led by the Banc de Sang i Teixits, which will present a plan in the coming months. The plan will be approved in January or February. budget of the center for the years 2022-2025.

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