A European project for the design of new drugs in which the UPV/EHU participates receives one million euros from the European Union

Professor Enrique Gómez Bengoa’s research group leads the AiRPaDD project, in which the University of Sheffield and the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Sanofi-Aventis participate.

It is -explains Enrique Gmez- a research for the development of compounds of high interest, with great pharmaceutical potential, financed in the call for European projects Marie Sklodowska Curie of the European Commission, within the program of industrial doctorates. This program supports the comprehensive training and professional development of predoctoral researchers at a European level. The project has received one million euros in funding from the European science system, a budget that will allow the hiring of four doctoral students who will have to spend half of their training time (18 months) at the University of the Basque Country, in the Faculty of Chemistry, or at the University of Sheffield and the other half of the time, at one of the two companies in the network, either AstraZeneca or Sanofi-Aventis.

To understand the objectives of the project, it is important to know that practically all current medicines are organic compounds that are industrially synthesized in very complex and expensive processes, where the molecules are assembled as if it were a puzzle. To this same family of organic molecules with biological activity belong other substances such as herbicides or pesticides, and not only these, but all the molecules present in living organisms, hormones, metabolites, or those responsible for giving odor and flavor to food. foods. Nature has been synthesizing these substances spontaneously for millions of years and we have learned from her how to prepare them in the laboratory, by somewhat similar methods. In addition, the current chemical industry, and within it also the pharmaceutical industry, needs these synthesis processes to be cleaner, more efficient, selective, cheaper and to generate less waste. And all this supposes a great challenge, emphasizes this professor of the Faculty of Chemistry.

The European project AiRPaDD has among its objectives, precisely, the development of new synthetic tools for the preparation of possible drugs in various diseases. At the moment, the specific objectives to be studied are subject to confidentiality agreements and are marked by the interests of the pharmaceutical companies. The academic groups contribute their knowledge in the synthesis of complex molecules, and the development of methods to build new compounds in an innovative way. In addition, universities have a great capacity to train doctoral students, turning them into professionals capable of jumping into the world of work with guarantees of success. To meet this objective, universities have a priority role. However, we lack the enormous research and product development potential of the big pharmaceutical companies, which can solve complex problems of great importance, problems that are unmanageable for us. In this way, the synergy between the academic and industrial worlds is very beneficial for both, and above all for the training of future researchers.

Thus, for Enrique Gómez, the interaction of our researchers with international companies and academic groups is essential for the development of the University of the Basque Country. We are a small university in a small country and our future depends to a great extent on our being able to ally ourselves with the great scientific players at European and world level.

Enrique Gómez Bengoa is a doctor in Chemistry and professor at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of the Basque Country. He previously trained and researched at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Boston College in Massachusetts and Gttingen in Germany. It has received three European projects in the last 10 years, always in collaboration with universities from various European countries, and with large companies in the chemical sector, such as Bayer, Sanofi, AstraZeneca and others of smaller magnitude, such as Cambrex-Sweden or Evotec in the United Kingdom. .

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