TR35 Spain Spotlight: Teresa Gonzalo, 33
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of profiles featuring the winners of Spain’s first TR35 Awards. The awards are given to the top ten innovators and entrepreneurs under the age of 35 as chosen by a panel of judges. For more information on TR35 Spain, click here.
Since beginning her career, Teresa Gonzalo’s research has linked her investigative career- as a European biomedicine doctor- with the ambition of the fruits of laboratory work in nanoparticle technology can be used to develop treatments for therapeutic use with applications that could change society.
Teresa has worked since 2007 at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital as a postdoctoral researcher in search of an AIDS therapy using nanotechnology-specifically dendrimers (versatile three-dimensional polymeric molecules with a defined shape) – for a microbicide gel may prevent HIV infection during a sexual encounter. The most promising microbicides currently use gels containing antiretroviral drugs that have successfully reduced HIV incidence by 54% in women who adhere to the treatment, as demonstrated with CAPRISA in South Africa with a tenofovir-based gel. Teresa´s goal is to improve that statistic with the development of vaginal microbicides based on dendrimers, which either alone or in combination with drugs significantly reduce the infection of HIV target cells.
“The use of nanoparticles and dendrimers as a pharmaceutical vehicle appears to improve the protective immune response against HIV,” says Antonio Antelo, physician, Infectious Diseases Unit, of Clinico Universitario de Santiago de Compostela Hospital and former vice president of the Spanish Interdisciplinary AIDS Society. “This makes this area a target of interest for the application of nanotechnology, where the work of Teresa is likely to make improvements and impact on the development of a drug with immediate applications in public health,” said Antel.
In order to make this product available to the public, even in preclinical development, Teresa studied an MBA in Biotechnology Management at IE Business School. From 2010, she has also run the company in which she is co-founder: Biotech Ambiox, a spin off from the University of Alcalá de Henares has already been awarded several times as the best project and entrepreneurial business plan and in the field of biotechnology.
This is just the latest innovative step for the researcher, who during her doctoral and postdoctoral stages addressed the use of nanoparticles to treat diseases. Her work then led to international collaborations between the University of Groningen, the biotechnology company Kreatech (Amsterdam) and the Clínic de Barcelona Hospital and from the University of Santiago de Compostela and pharmaceutical company PharmaMar. These projects are reflected in several publications in scientific journals and in the registration of three new patents.