The Catalan company Algèmica Barcelona finances a project to identify new compounds with therapeutic properties from medicinal plants in the Mediterranean Basin with 96,000 €

Recently, a group of proteins in plants have been found to have protective properties against neurodegeneration and heart disease

he Catalan company Algèmica Barcelona S.L., specialised in the formulation and production of food supplements for pharmacies, is committed to biomedical research with the Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida (IRBLleida) and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lleida (UdL) and has granted €96,000 to fund a research project focused on the global mapping of the proteome of medicinal plants in the Mediterranean Basin. This mapping will allow the identification and functional characterisation of new compounds with therapeutic and health-promoting properties.

This project is led by the two heads of the +Pec Proteomics research group at IRBLleida and the UdL, Aida Serra and Xavier Gallart-Palau, a group accredited with the SGR seal of the Generalitat de Catalunya to recognise and promote quality research, knowledge transfer and the internationalisation of its scientific activities.

"Expanding and adapting this research strategy in our territory, for which leading nations with great innovation and research muscle such as Singapore and China are strongly committed, in order to fit within the scientific method the therapeutic value that has traditionally been granted to plants, is undoubtedly highly promising," said Aida Serra, lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine of the UdL.

The researcher, who has extensive international scientific experience in the search for protein compounds in plants of traditional Chinese medicine acquired during the development of several research projects during her period as a researcher at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, added that "some compounds in medicinal plants have been extensively studied, such as phenolic compounds, for their antioxidant and cardioprotective capacity, to give some examples. But plants contain much more than these compounds, and the properties of the proteins they contain are considered to be very potent, but have traditionally been overlooked as most do not withstand the conditions of digestion in the human body. Recently, however, a group of plant proteins have been discovered that do resist these conditions, showing great promise for therapeutic properties, such as *neuroprotective against neurodegeneration, cardioprotective and antibiotic properties.

"In our research group, we are developing analytical methods to concentrate and characterise them functionally and biochemically," said researcher Xavier Gallart-Palau. "This project funded by Algèmica aims to discover new compounds that will enrich its product lines currently marketed in its network of pharmacies with a strong presence in Catalonia and Spain. It is also strongly committed to research in the field of health in collaboration with local institutions, as well as to promoting the cultivation of medicinal plants in regions with a high capacity for this crop, such as the agricultural region of Lleida or the Empordà, a region with a long tradition of cultivating these plants", added the researcher.

Algèmica Barcelona is also co-funding the pre-doctoral training of researcher Julia Lisa from the +Pec Proteomics group, which is supported by the prestigious Industrial Doctorates programme of the Generalitat de Catalunya. The researcher-in-training is carrying out the research for her doctoral thesis, carrying out the objectives of the aforementioned research project.

"This project excites us because of its innovative nature and contribution to the territory, adding value to the medicinal plants that have traditionally been produced in our home. At the same time, it consolidates Algèmica's commitment to generate scientifically endorsed quality supplements that fully fit into the pharmaceutical field and contributes to training and the creation of quality jobs for qualified people at home," said the pharmacist, CEO and alma mater of the company, Maria Cosp.

For her part, the head of innovation at Algèmica Barcelona, the pharmacist Yolanda Márquez, confirmed that "it should be noted that this project has a dual objective: to seek to obtain compounds that enrich Algèmica's current and future lines and to make a clear commitment to health research by our small company, since many functionalities of these compounds with a potentially high therapeutic value that escape the company's production lines will be explored. Furthermore, together with IRBLleida, we will seek to benefit patients and society, values that the health professionals who have created and formed Algèmica have championed since the creation of the company".

The research group +Pec Proteomics