The Institute for Research in Biomedicine


Founded in 2005 by the Government of Catalonia and the University of Barcelona, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) is one of eight centres in Spain to be first recognised by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness as a “Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence”. The 23 groups hosted by the institute are devoted to basic and applied research at the interface between molecular and cellular biology, structural and computational biology, and chemistry, with experts in proteomics, genomics, biostatistics, and advanced digital microscopy. The research at IRB Barcelona is organised into five programmes, which work together with the common goal of conducting multidisciplinary projects that address important biomedical problems affecting our society, with special emphasis on cancer and metastasis. The institute is home to approximately 440 employees from 38 countries. IRB Barcelona’s ultimate objective is to translate research results to the clinic and has already established three biotechnology spin-off companies to this end. More than 20% of its scientists receive funding from the European Research Council. The institute is located in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), in the Diagonal Campus of the University of Barcelona. Director: Dr. Joan J. Guinovart. Eduard Batlle, receiver of an ERC advanced grant, heads the colorectal cancer laboratory within IRB.

IRB Barcelona’s (Eduard Batlle’s) role within SuppresSTEM

As part of suppresSTEM, Batlle’s team will be in charge of carrying out the initial study of the samples extracted from patients, and for testing if the generated antibodies work in mice. Once the best candidates have been identified, their mechanisms of action will be analyzed in order to optimize their activity. The general objectives of the consortium are to find new treatments for cancer and to establish a new strategy that allows researchers to determine whether a drug is efficient before initiating clinical trials and during clinical testing, a multimillion euro investment. One of the concepts of using antibodies is to target cancer stem cells, which the Batlle laboratory has a strong background in with notable publications in the field (Merlos-Suárez A Cell Stem Cell 2011). In addition, the laboratory focuses on identifying novel stem cell and cancer stem cell markers, and understanding the interplay between the microenvironment and tumor progression. The laboratory has published results in top-level journals identifying the paradoxical role of TGF-β in tumor development (Calon A, Cancer Cell 2012), and more recently the delineation of the micro-environmental regulation of the cancer stem cell compartment (Whissell G Nat Cell Biol. 2014). This strong background will help the suppresSTEM consortium gain a deeper understanding in to the molecular mechanisms of the antibodies on colon cancer stem cells, and colon cancer as a whole, thus expediting antibody development.