The new spin-off Exheus has developed technology that can sequence RNA from a small blood sample, and associate gene expression in more than 320 metabolic pathways that act as biomarkers of parameters of an individual’s body. The technology can analyse all variations that are outside of normality to improve and prevent health problems.
This project emerged from a doctoral thesis read at the UPC by researcher Emma Roca, a biochemist and elite ultrarunner worldwide. Roca analysed the effect of high intensity sport on ultra-trail runners, together with Dr. José Manuel Soria, principal researcher of the Complex Disease Genomics Research Group at the Sant Pau Hospital Research Institute - IIB Sant Pau and Dr. Alexandre Perera, physicist, expert in Artificial Intelligence and director of the UPC’s Centre for Research in Biomedical Engineering (CREB), who is responsible for developing the algorithms that allow the automatic evaluation of the expression of metabolic pathways. Finally, within the framework of the Collider program, in the 2019 edition, Dr. Teresa Tarragó, CEO of the project, and Pol Cervera, operations director, joined to provide a business perspective and orient the product to the market.
The technology has been validated in various sports disciplines. Currently, pilot projects are being developed with some of the main European clubs and sports centres as well as Barcelona Marathon runners.
One of the first objectives of Exheus is to improve recovery from sports injuries in high performance areas and to reduce them. To this end, the expression of all genes in the genome is analysed, with special attention to the target genes, such as genes integrated into metabolic pathways in inflammatory processes and infections, the immune system and other markers that control muscle damage suffered in training and competition.