19 May

World Inflammatory Bowel Diseases’ Day (the Crohn’s disease)

World Inflammatory Bowel Diseases’ Day (the Crohn’s disease)

Today is the World Inflammatory Bowel Diseases’ Day, a group of chronic disorders of unknown origin which affects the gastrointestinal tract of more than 2,500,000 people in Europe. In Spain, there are between 150 and 250 cases every 100,000 inhabitants, of all of them the most common are the Crohn’s disease and the ulcerative colitis. In this post we will focus on the first.

The Crohn disease causes the inflammation of a segment of the intestines, it can affect any part of the digestive tract, but the small intestine last section, also known as ileum, is the most frequent area affected. There is a scientific consensus in that it is an autoimmune illness, but its causes are unknown. Scientists have isolated some risk factors: the main of them is a genetic component (a 20% of the patients have a relative with it), the other factors are: contamination, smoking habits and stress.

Chron’s main symptoms are frequent intestinal movement, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Other indicators are joint pain, eye or mouth swelling and skin injuries. As a result of the affected intestines’ limited nutritional absorption capabilities some of the patients become anaemic, lose weight or experience fatigue. The illness alternates active phases with low-intensity ones which makes its symptomatology varied and unpredictable. However it is usual that the active periods produce fissures, fistulas and ulcers.

Crohn affects both sexes equally and normally develops in the youth (most cases are diagnosed between ages 15 -35). As a result of its genetic component, it is more prevalent in some ethnic groups, for example, in western Europe the incidence rate is the 6.3 cases every 100,000 inhabitants while in eastern Europe is the 3,3, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

The current treatments are not designed to cure it, only to diminish the symptoms and prolong the inactive periods. The most common medicines used are the corticosteroides and the aminosalicylates. If they are not effective, the doctors will prescribe immunomodulators and some biologic therapy. There is not an established method and the treatment is adapted to each person. In the most extreme cases, the patients are operated to repair or extract the intestine fragment damaged.

A new non-invasive diagnostic test

GoodGut is developing a new non-invasive diagnostic test to detect Inflammatory Bowel diseases like Crohn that is being tested on patients in a clinical study in the Dr.  Josep Trueta University Hospital in Girona. The new method is called RAID-CD and is based in a patented system which identifies bio-markers in the excrements. This will allow an early detection and also the possibility to predict the start of an active phase, with this information it is going to be possible to improve the therapy. The objective is to get a more specific and effective treatment which will avoid the necessity of a surgical procedure in the long-term. “Raid-CD is going to allow a more efficient control of the illness and this will improve the patient quality life” states doctor Xavier Aldeguer, GoodGut co-founder and Director of the Department of Digestive Diseases in Trueta hospital. Among its potential benefits are a reduction of the number colonoscopies needed and an increase in the treatments efficacy.

GoodGut’s therapeutic prebiotic

GoodGut is currently developing Previpect, a therapeutic prebiotic which fosters a selective growth of the beneficial microorganisms we have in our intestinal flora which helps to compensate the dysbiosis that patient usually have. This can reduce the outbreaks and increases the treatments efficacy. This prebiotic can represent a conceptual change in the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases therapy. As it is a prebiotic, its regulation process is faster so it is going to be soon in the market. GoodGut expects it to be available by 2019.

17 Mar

GoodGut to take part in a panel discussion on microbiota at BIO-Europe Spring 2017

GoodGut to take part in a panel discussion on microbiota at BIO-Europe Spring 2017


GoodGut will be an active participant in the eleventh edition of BIO-Europe Spring, to be held in Barcelona from 20th to 22nd March. BIO-Europe Spring is the most important European conference for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, this year expecting to welcome over 1,400 companies from the sector, with over 2,400 participants. The 2017 event is organised by EDB Group with the collaboration of Biocat and ACCIÓ.

The Medical Director of GoodGut, Dr Xavier Aldeguer, and the CEO, Dr Mariona Serra, will take part in the panel discussion Key Considerations in Microbiome Partnering, on 20th March at 4 pm, with Michel de Baar from MSD, Eric de La Fortelle from Seventure and Mike Ward from Informa Pharma Insights.

The human microbiome is garnering research interest across the globe and industry is responding to the growing possibilities of therapeutic developments in a variety of ways, a key aspect of which is partnerships. The current state of play means emerging companies are often looking for specific expertise or experience in their partners, often influenced by the variety of approaches under different regulatory jurisdictions or financial structures. Join this panel to hear how emerging microbiome companies identity their preferred partners and what pharma companies and funders are able to bring to the panel discussion.

GoodGut considers intestinal microbiota to be a determining factor in the appearance of digestive diseases and the focus of its research and the new non-invasive tests (in clinical trial phase) which will help to improve early diagnosis.

Over the three days, GoodGut will also take the opportunity to hold private 30-minute meetings with other international executives and business developers. The conference is expected to lead to 12,500 meetings of this type.

Barcelona previously hosted the conference in 2010 and 2013 and the fact that it is doing so again reasserts Catalonia’s strategic position as a pioneering international business centre for the life sciences and healthcare.

Photo: BIO-Europe Spring Barcelona 2013 – Biocat

15 Mar

The New Non-Invasive Test from GoodGut, at the 12th Congress of ECCO

The New Non-Invasive Test from GoodGut, at the 12th Congress of ECCO

With the theme Advancing Knowledge, Improving Care, Barcelona played host to the 12th Congress of ECCO (European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation) on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This congress is an unmissable event for scientists and medical specialists from around the world wishing to explore the latest research and clinical care trends in the field.

GoodGut, which began clinical trials of a non-invasive system for detecting IBD (RAID-CD) at Dr. Josep Trueta University Hospital in Girona, with a population of 100 patients, was one of the companies taking part in the congress. IBD includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Specifically, two scientific posters were presented by Joan Amoedo, researcher in a team through the Industrial Doctorates Scheme of the Generalitat of Catalonia. The most relevant result on the first poster, which was one of the most consulted, described the excellent capacity of the phylogroups (PHGI and PHGII) to discriminate between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease patients exclusively affecting the colon.

The most significant result on the second poster was that the PHGI and PHGII have proven to be good active phase indicators, providing for the possibility of a different activity marker for each disease. In this case, as Joan Amoedo explains, “it was detected that an increased number of patients was required to validate the markers as a parameter of activity for both diseases”. As a result, the corresponding clinical trials for the differential diagnosis and monitory of inflammatory bowel disease, and the use of these markers to predict the response to anti-TNF treatments such as post-operative recurrence are currently being conducted at Dr. Josep Trueta University Hospital in Girona, Bellvitge University Hospital and Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital.

Both diseases are chronic and tend to appear in young people (before the age of 30). An estimated 2.5–3 million people in Europe are affected by IBD. In Spain, Crohn’s disease affects around 137.2 people out of every 1000 and, according to ACCU, ulcerative colitis is more common than Crohn’s disease (58% compared to 42%).

Currently IBD is diagnosed with the support of clinical indices and inflammatory parameters such as calprotectin. However these parameters are not sufficiently accurate and generally do not determine when there will be a flare-up of the disease. As a result, a colonoscopy is always necessary, despite being a highly invasive technique with risk of death. In order to diagnose and monitor these chronic diseases the GoodGut system makes it possible to consider one kilogram of bacteria living inside the body which, when unbalanced, are responsible for causing inflammatory response. The RAID-CD can thus be used for non-invasive identification in faeces of the specific microbiological signature for each disease and the degree of dysbioisis can be measured to monitor the disease correctly and provide effective treatment guidelines.



11 Mar

Mariona Serra, one of the many inspiring women behind Catalunya Emprèn

Mariona Serra, one of the many inspiring women behind Catalunya Emprèn


Dr Mariona Serra, co-founder and CEO of GoodGut, is one of the women who inspired the work of Catalunya Emprèn in 2016. Her contribution was mentioned within the scope of FemTalent Fòrum 2017, at a round table held on 20 January in Barcelona and led by Montserrat Sànchez, programme communication manager at Catalunya Emprèn; Almudena Castillo, programme management manager at Catalunya Emprèn and Maria José Blanco, manager of the Barcelona Activa Women Entrepreneurs School. Two of the other guests were from the field of health and life sciences: Dr Teresa Tarragó of Iproteos and Raquel Riera of Biocat.

Female talent is becoming a force to be reckoned with in Catalonia. According to figures from Xarxa Emprèn, a public-private business start-up advice and support network, for 2015, out of all the entrepreneurs advised, 50.21% were women and 49.79% were men. And out of the businesses created, 46.73% were the initiative of women.

Mariona Serra, who has a doctorate in pharmacology, started her entrepreneurial life after a post doctorate degree at Biomedical Research Institute of Girona (IDIBGI), then later an Advanced Management Programme at Iese to complement it. In 2014, Serra founded the biotechnology company GoodGut with Dr Xavier Aldeguer and Dr Jesús García-Gil. She is currently also a member of the Social Council of the Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona, where she chairs the University-Business Committee. Her motto, as she explains in this Biocat interview, is “do business in a team and create your own virtuous circle”.

28 Feb

GoodGut, selected for the IPEM 2017 investment forum in Cannes

GoodGut, selected for the IPEM 2017 investment forum in Cannes

GoodGut was the only Catalan company selected by the European Commission Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) to take part in the IPEM 2017 investment forum, from 24 to 26 January in Cannes (France), attended by a total of 120 companies.

It is one of the most important occasions in Europe for private and corporate investors seeking business opportunities to meet innovative companies from a range of economic sectors. The CEO of GoodGut, Dr Mariona Serra, was responsible for presenting the business model to over 150 investors from France, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, the United States, Canada and China. “IPEM has given us visibility and access to a network of potential investors in the international arena” she told us.

Serra also commented that GoodGut is a pioneer in designing systems to support diagnosis and treatment for digestive diseases based on intestinal microbiota. Along these lines, investors were interested in the company’s two tests currently in pre-clinical trial phase: RAID-CRC as a new non-invasive system for early detection of colorectal cancer using biomarkers, as it is the second highest cause of death by cancer in the world and the cancer which most affects the Spanish population, and RAID-CD for inflammatory bowel diseases, mainly Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Since it was founded in 2014, GoodGut has raised €795,000 from family, friends and fools, angel investors, Caixa Capital Risc and Institut Català de Finances (ICF-IFEM), and one million euros of competitive public financing through the Retos and Neotec programmes.

15 Sep

GoodGut to participate in Biospain 2016 in Bilbao

GoodGut to participate in Biospain 2016 in Bilbao


Forging bonds with future industrial partners for the innovative non-invasive system for early detection of colorectal cancer (RAID-CRC) is the goal GoodGut has set for their time at Biospain 2016, as well as at other events in the sector over the coming months.

Biospain, which will be held from 28 to 30 September in Bilbao by the Spanish Association of Biotech Companies (Asebio), has become the meeting point for biotechnology firms in Spain, attracting more than 850 companies and investors from 37 countries.

Clinical study begins at five hospitals in Catalonia

RAID-CRC has recently received funding through the Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness 2016 ‘Retos’ programme. It will also begin clinical validation this September with 500 patients at the Dr. Josep Trueta University Hospital, Bellvitge University Hospital, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Vic University Hospital and Santa Caterina Hospital in Girona. “We will analyse different risk groups and that will allow us to better establish who the product targets,” explains Mariona Serra, CEO of GoodGut. The company has also begun the national phase of PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty).

The current screening method is the faecal occult blood test (FOB), but it isn’t as effective as it is less specific and doesn’t detect pre-symptomatic CRC adenomas. The new system being developed by GoodGut is based on bacterial markers in faeces and will allow doctors to pre-diagnose colon cancer and determine risk levels in the early stages.

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26 Jul

GoodGut gets €175,000 CDTI Neotec grant

GoodGut gets €175,000 CDTI Neotec grant


Just days after the good news that the Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness had granted GoodGut €1.1 million under the 2016 Retos programme, the company found out that it will also receive support from the 2015 CDTI Neotec grants: €175,000.

In this case, the funding will not go to developing a specific project but be used to consolidate the company’s research lines and its laboratory located at the University of Girona Science and Technology Park.

The Neotec grants are among the most competitive in the science/business arena in Spain. More than 500 SMEs participated in this call for proposals. The aspects that the CDTI gives the most weight are that the business strategy be based on technological development, as a competitive factor to set the company apart, and that it has its own lines of R&D.

19 Jul

Girona Regional Council supports GoodGut innovation

Girona Regional Council supports GoodGut innovation


GoodGut is one of 14 companies that have been selected under the Girona Regional Council business support program, which will create some 40 jobs throughout the province this year.

“We want to encourage the hiring of new personnel and drive actions to improve issues associated with innovation and technology within companies,” highlighted Josep Antoni Frias, regional councillor for Economic Promotion and DIPLAB in the Girona Regional Council. Frias met with representatives of the companies receiving this support on 28 July. CEO Mariona Serra attended on behalf of GoodGut.

The Regional Council valued the cutting-edge research being carried out at Goodgut in the field of digestive diseases, as well as the team’s history. This biotechnology firm was created in 2014 by Dr. Xavier Aldeguer, head of Digestive Medicine at Hospital Josep Trueta; Dr. Jesús García-Gil, Microbiology Chair; and Mariona Serra, PhD in pharmacology.  Afterwards, the team was joined by Jaume Amat as a strategic consultant through the Bioemprèn programme (he is also on the CataloniaBio Board of Directors). Goodgut currently has a team of five working at its facilities in the University of Girona Science and Technology Park – Girona Emprèn.

Photo: Martí Artalejo

12 Jul

GoodGut gets Retos grant for non-invasive test for early detection of colon cancer

GoodGut gets Retos grant for non-invasive test for early detection of colon cancer


Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness has given GoodGut €1.1 million under the Research Challenges (Retos) programme to validate and develop a non-invasive system for colorectal cancer screening based on bacterial markers in faeces. The project is called Risk Assessment Intestinal Disease for Colorectal Cancer (RAID-CRC) and will last three years.

The innovation of this new test lies in its ability to detect precancerous lesions in patients from a stool sample even before they experience symptoms. This will “reduce the number of false positives you get with the faecal occult blood test, decrease the need for colonoscopies and help prevent colorectal cancer,” explains Dr Mariona Serra, co-founder and CEO of GoodGut. RAID-CRC will be implemented to screen people with mid-to-high risk, meaning individuals over 50.

The test is currently undergoing clinical validation, which will finish over the coming months, at the Digestive System Unit at Dr. Josep Trueta University Hospital, led by Dr. Xavier Aldeguer; the Digestive System Unit at Bellvitge University Hospital, led by Dr. Jordi Guardiola; and the Genetic Counselling Unit at the Catalan Institute of Oncology, led by Dr. Gabriel Capellà and Dr. Joan Brunet.

Close collaboration between public institutions and companies is key to the development of medical devices like RAID-CRC. “The ‘Retos’ programme makes this interdisciplinary action possible, ensuring the success of the project,” says Mariona Serra.