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How Nanophotonic Label-Free Biosensors Can Contribute to Rapid and Massive Diagnostics of Respiratory Virus Infections: COVID-19 Case

An accurate and explanatory review recently published in ACS Sensors. led by Prof. Laura Lechuga, Scientific Director of Nanbiosis U4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit from CIBER-BBN and ICN2, discusses current diagnostic techniques for COVID-19 and possible future developments in this field. In particular, after highlighting the advantages and limitations of the methods available at present, the article introduces optical biosensors and illustrates how nanophotonic label-free devices can contribute to meet the emerging needs in this context.

For further information at ICN2 website

Reference article:

Maria Soler, Maria Carmen Estevez, Maria Cardenosa-Rubio, Alejandro Astua, and Laura M. Lechuga, How Nanophotonic Label-Free Biosensors Can Contribute to Rapid and Massive Diagnostics of Respiratory Virus Infections: COVID-19 Case; ACS Sensors, August 2020. DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.0c01180

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II Conference on Nanotoxicity. “Dosis sola facit venenum”

NANBIOSIS has participated in the organization of the on-line Conference on Nanotoxicity in collaboration with, CIBER-BBNNanomed Spain and Materplat, to debate about the efect of nanotoxicity of nanoparticles and nanotechnologies in health.

The session has been started by Ramon Martinez Mañez, Scientific Director of CIBER-BBN and NANBIOSIS U26 NMR: Biomedical Applications II.

Isabel Rodriguez (GAIKER Technlogy Center) has taking about tools for risk management of nanomatials differentiating between tools and strategies and explaining their experience in studies carried out.

Luis Rojo del Olmo investigador del Grupo de Biomateriales del Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de Polímeros del CSIC y del CIBER-BBN) has spoken about the physical-chemical characterization of micro and nanoplastics, explaining biodegradation and bioelimination techniques and their relationship with nanotoxicity.

Ariel Ramírez from the Nanotoxicology Unit of the Aragon Health Research Institute (IIS Aragón) has spoken about preclinical characterization of micro and nanoplastics.

Finally, Ciro Luis Salcines from the University of Cantabria spoke about the practical application of NanoPrevention and Nanotoxicology.

The talks have been followed by a round table of great scientific interest. Ernesto Caballero Garrido, from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) has shown that sometimes the evaluation of “nano” goes through the evaluation of “macro”, as there is a lack of specific regulation, in this case the two additional aspects to be taken into account to determine nanotoxicity are accumulation and elimination.

Ramón Martínez Mañez closed the session thanking the organization of the Conference and inviting to continue with these Annual Conference on Nanotoxicity, a topic of great interest to the CIBER-BBN

The Conference was moderated by Teresa Sanchis, executive coordinator of Nanomed.

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NANBIOSIS Expertise in the IQAC-CSIC Symposium dedicated to the fight against Covid-19 Pandemic

The 4th Annual IQAC Symposium will take place on September 23, 2020. This year will be dedicated to the research projects on COVID-19 that are being carried out in the IQAC-CSIC. It will be a dissemination day aiming to inform the general public about some of the lines of research that are currently being developed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will be live streamed in Facebook: facebook.com/iqac.csic.es/

Three of the speakers, members of CIBER-BBN NANBIOSIS units at IQAC-CSIC, will explain their work. Pilar Marco and Roger Galve (NANBIOSIS U2 Custom Antibody Service (CAbS) will talk about “Wearable Devices for Detection rapid SARS-CoV-2” and Miriam Royo (NANBIOSIS U3 Synthesis of Peptides Unit shall inform about “Peptide-based chemical tools as diagnostic and therapeutic agents of COVID-19″

Further information and program: http://bit.ly/2ZLVT0o

The Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC) is one of the research centers of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The Institute is located in Barcelona and it was created in 2007 with the mission to perform research of excellence in Chemical Sciences with the broad goal of improving the quality of life. The research developed at IQAC is organized around two main nodes: Biological Chemistry and Nanobiotechnology, many of the investigations carried out by the Research Groups at IQAC lie at the intersection between nodes.

Since 2007 CIBER-BBN and IQAC-CSIC have created four Units of equipment and resources for research wich are part of NANBIOSIS and have been recognized by Spanish Goverment as ICTS (scientific and technical infrastructures, unique in its kind, that are dedicated to high quality research and technological development). The other two units Besides U2 an U3 are: U12 Nanostructured liquid characterization unit, led by Prof. Carlos Rodriguez Abreu and Unir29 Oligonucleotide Synthesis Platform (OSP), led by Prof. Ramón Eritja.

One on the projects in which NANBIOSIS units at CSIC are working in the fight against COVID-19 is CSIC POC4CoV project to develop diagnostic technologies for SARS-COV-2 in which participate 3 of our Units.

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Scientists of Bionand, University of Malaga and CIBER identify a new drug that could mitigate the consequences of COVID infection.

Researchers from Bionand, partner of NANBIOSIS and ​​the University of Malaga toguether with Red de Terapia Celular, CIBER-BBN and CIBER-NED have taken another step in the search for new rapidly implantable therapies to stop the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease, identifying a new drug that could prevent or mitigate the consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The team, led by UMA researchers Iván Durán and Fabiana Csukasi, will study over the next year how treatment with 4-Phenylbutyrate (4-PBA) modulates the inflammatory response that occurs in the most severe cases of COVID-19.

The first results have already been published in the scientific journal ‘Cytokine and Growth Factors Review’

The inflammatory process that is identified in the most serious cases of coronavirus causes uncontrolled and excess cytokines – molecules responsible for organizing the body’s defenses – even triggering vascular hyperpermeability and multi-organ failure. Precisely, the control of this “storm” of cytokines, through those who control them, that is, the infected cells, is the proposal of the researchers from the University of Malaga.

“When cells are stressed by the infection they call up the cytokines and, the more stressed they are, the more insistently they call them, causing that uncontrolled inflammation. For this reason, one possibility to treat COVID-19 is to reduce the stress on the cells, “explained Durán.

According to the researcher, repositioning with the anti-stress drug ‘4-PBA’, approved for clinical use against other diseases and, therefore, easy to take to the clinic, could modulate this cellular stress, which is also present in pathologies such as diabetes, aging or carcinogenesis, in turn, classified as risk for Covid-19.

For further information click here

Other members of the Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration Laboratory (Labret), led by Professor José Becerra, and of which the researchers Manuel Mari-Beffa, Gustavo Rico, José Miguel Tejeiro, Rick Visser and David Baglietto are also part of the team of researchers in this project granted by de Andalucía Government with 90.000€.

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New project to alleviate the effects of Covid will be developed by JUMISC, partner of NANBIOSIS

The Jesús Usón Minimally Invasive Surgery Center (JUMISC), partner of NANBIOSIS, will develop an R&D project aimed at alleviating the effects of the health and social crisis of COVID-19, thanks to a collaboration agreement with Banco Santander.

The project “Analysis of ligands for SARS-CoV-2 in lymphocyte subpopulations with application for disease staging and patient stratification“, will be developed for a year with the collaboration of researchers from from the San Pedro de Alcántara Hospital in Cáceres, the University of Extremadura, the Reina Sofía Hospital and Mount Sinai in New York.

This research initiative aims to provide a reliable prediction of the development of the disease through the study of certain molecules related to the mechanisms of entry of the virus and how they are altered depending on the age and immune status of the individual. The result of the characterization of SARS-CoV-2 receptors and their correlation with the degree of differentiation of lymphocytes of patients could allow, by means of cytometric analysis, the stratification of patients.The project includes three phases: the first will define a panel of antibodies to identify, by cytometry, those subcellular populations with high levels of expression of ligands for the virus; in the second, the panel of markers already defined will be analyzed and the third will allow to establish groups of patients according to the stage of the disease and predict the evolution of those diagnosed.

For further information, click here

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Maastricht Simulation Award to Konstantinos Mountris and Esther Pueyo

Konstantinos Mountris and Esther Pueyo, (NANBIOSIS Unit 27 High Performance Computing), have been awarded with the Maastricht Simulation Award for their participation in the CinC 2020.

Researchers of BSICoS Group, from CIBER-BBN and I3A of Zaragoza University, have participated in the 47 Computing in Cardiology Conference, which took place in Rimini, Italy, during the days 13-16 of September. Alba Martín, was awarded with the Best Remote Poster Presentation for the poster entitled “Model-based characterization of atrial fibrilation episodes and its clinical association“. And the work “Next-generation in-silico Cardiac Electrophysiology through Immersed Grid Meshfree Modelling. Application to Simulation of Myocardial Infarctionby Konstantinos Mountris and Esther Pueyo has been awarded with the CinC Maastricht Simulation Award (MSA).

This work proposes a novel Meshfree Immersed Grid method for cardiac electrophysiology simulation and its application in the simulation of myocardial infarction. Usually, cardiac electrophysiology simulation is performed using mesh-based techniques like the Finite Element Method. Such techniques implicate the generation of a mesh discretization of the domain of interest that can be a time-consuming process, especially for complex anatomical models. The Meshfree Immersed Grid alleviates the necessity for mesh generation and allows eliminating the mesh-related limitations. Using the HPC services of NANBIOSIS U27 High Performance Computing, – explains Konstantinos Mountris – we were able to validate the Meshfree Immersed Grid method as a promising alternative to Finite Element Method performing large-scale simulations of myocardial infarction in biventricular swine models.

The goal of this award (and its $500 prize) is to recognize the best submission to the conference each year on the topic of cardiovascular simulations.

2020 Is the second consecutive edition of the CinC Conference in wich members of Bsicos Group and NANBIOSIS U27 are awarded with the MSA. In 2019 the winner was Violeta Monasterio with the work Influence of the Stimulation Current on the Differences between Cell and Tissue Electrophysiological Simulations.

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SAFE-N-MEDTECH OITB project in which CIBER-BBN is a partner througth its ICTS NANBIOSIS, gathers expertise from 28 partners around the World focused in enabling the safe translation of nano-enabled medical technologies from Proof of Concept to markets and clinical practice. The sudden COVID-19 outbreak has meant an unforeseen challenge that requires rapid answers from the Science, Technology and Innovation Community. These is a framework where SafeNMT could deploy all its potential: first, because nanotechnology is a Key Enabling Technology that can contribute to innovative approaches to fight COVID 19 and/or other viral pandemics. Second, because the integration of capabilities in SafeNMT should be a key driver to integrate, accelerate and translate nanotechnology innovations from TRLs 4-5 to TRLs 6-7.

In this context, and in the frame of the Joint OITBs Open Call to fight COVID 19, we aim in opening our services, at no cost, for selected proposals which accomplish the following conditions:

  • Innovations for prevention, diagnostic and/or therapy for COVID 19 based on the use of nanotechnology applied to Medical Devices and In Vitro Diagnostic
  • The expressions of interest should present a solid S&T background and a sufficient technological maturity (starting TRLs 4-5)
  • A clear development pathway, with an initial identification of product needs is encouraged

What we offer (non-exhaustive list, to be agreed with the selected expressions of interest – Consult the services in our catalogue):

  • First evaluation of the project/product based on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and Healthcare system needs provided by our pool of experts
  • Technology scanning to identify redundancies/synergies
  • Nanomaterial characterization
  • In vitro preclinical research
  • Access to clinical samples and Biobanks
  • Assistance in prototyping and qualification of manufacturing facilities
  • Regulatory advice and support in the adapted European regulation for COVID 19 medical technologies
  • Links to clinical networks
  • Business development coaching, links with business angels, investors, capital risk, etc.

Typically, the project will cover costs related to activities mentioned above, according to the budget limits available. If outstanding expenses beyond the available budget are needed, these will need to be covered by the user. The project won’t be able to cover formal regulatory costs, production costs, clinical development costs or any external costs that might be needed for the testing and production of the nano-enabled Medical Technology/ies.
Please note that all information provided will be treated confidential and is stored only for the purpose of this call.

Submission deadline: October 2nd, 2020, 5:00 p.m. CET.

Applicants will be informed about the outcome of their application in mid October. Activities are envisaged to start beginning of November.

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Robust Conditional Independence maps of single-voxel Magnetic Resonance Spectra to elucidate associations between brain tumours and metabolites

Scientists of CIBER-BBN, Ana Paula Candiota and Margarida Juliá managing Nanbiosis ICTS U25 NMR: Biomedical Applications I have participated in the research carried out by Liverpool John Moores University and University of Valencia to elucidate associations between brain tumours and metabolites, published by the journal Plos One.

The aim of the paper is two-fold. First, to show that structure finding with the PC algorithm can be inherently unstable and requires further operational constraints in order to consistently obtain models that are faithful to the data. The authors propose a methodology to stabilise the structure finding process, minimising both false positive and false negative error rates. This is demonstrated with synthetic data. Second, to apply the proposed structure finding methodology to a data set comprising single-voxel Magnetic Resonance Spectra of normal brain and three classes of brain tumours, to elucidate the associations between brain tumour types and a range of observed metabolites that are known to be relevant for their characterisation. The data set is bootstrapped in order to maximise the robustness of feature selection for nominated target variables. Specifically, Conditional Independence maps (CI-maps) built from the data and their derived Bayesian networks have been used. A Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) is built from CI-maps, being a major challenge the minimization of errors in the graph structure. This work presents empirical evidence on how to reduce false positive errors via the False Discovery Rate, and how to identify appropriate parameter settings to improve the False Negative Reduction. In addition, several node ordering policies are investigated that transform the graph into a DAG. The obtained results show that ordering nodes by strength of mutual information can recover a representative DAG in a reasonable time, although a more accurate graph can be recovered using a random order of samples at the expense of increasing the computation time.

Article of reference:

Robust Conditional Independence maps of single-voxel  Magnetic  Resonance  spectra  to  elucidate  associations  between  brain  tumours  and  metabolites. Raúl Vicente Casaña-Eslava, Sandra Ortega-Martorell, Paulo J. Lisboa, Ana Paula Candiota, Margarida Julià-Sapé, José David Martín-Guerrero, Ian H. Jarman 2020, PLoS ONE  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235057

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The ATTRACT Online Conference open for registration

The on line Conference ATTRACT – Igniting the Deep Tech Revolution will take pace on 22-23 Sep 2020. The ATTRACT Online Conference website is now live! Please register before 28 August at https://attract-eu-conference.cern.b2match.io/

The ATTRACT Conference offers multiple opportunities to understand the dynamics and contribute to the emergence of a strong European deep tech ecosystem for detection and imaging technologies. The ATTRACT Project is an EC funded initiative led by a consortium of leading European research infrastructures and universities.

CIBERBBN and Nanbiosis are involved in MAGRes : Multiparametric MR approaches for non-invasive glioblastoma therapy response follow-up, one of the 170 projects using sensing and imaging technology
to enable breakthrough innovation funded by ATTRACT and headed by Ana Paula Candiota, Scientific Coordinator of NANBIOSIS U25 NMR: Biomedical Applications I

MAGRes Project:

Glioblastoma (GB) is the major aggressive primary brain tumour in adults showing disproportion between high mortality compared to low overall incidence. Survival after detection is below 18 months even after standard aggressive treatment and no cure has been reported. Novel therapies (e.g. immunotherapy) may be very expensive and it may be relevant to have in vivo, early efficiency, non-invasive imaging biomarkers (IB) to halt unsuccessful use of such therapeutic agents and allowing early evidence-based therapy-related decisions.

Researchers involved in Magret project believes that Magnetic Resonance (MR)-derived data (MRI, MRSI, i.e. imaging, spectroscopic imaging) can be translated into IB of successful GB therapy through in vivo monitoring.

MAGRes proposes a breakthrough innovative hashtag combining MRI and MRSI data acquisition. MRSI data will be used as decoding agent to translate MR-derived information into surrogate IB of successful therapeutic outcome, which definitely represents a step beyond in comparison with present follow-up therapy response strategies based in volume changes of the tumour mass.

The extremely large amount of multi-parametric data acquired for each preclinical subject (mice), longitudinal explorations with several acquisitions will allow us to benefit from powerful state-of-the-art multiparametric data analysis methods based on Deep-Learning (DL). This, together with feature selection and interpretation methods will lead to extraction of MR- based significant IB.

At present, there is no software approach allowing both fast, user-friendly post-processing of conventional MRI and MRSI, and encompassing sophisticated developments in the area of pattern recognition (PR), automated MRSI artifact removal, as well as the weighted combination of multi-parametric images.

Accordingly, MAGRes targets the development and implementation of user-friendly software with capabilities to compute 2D and 3D MR-derived parametric images and to visualise them overlaid on high resolution MR structural images. Moreover, this will be implemented in an open-source software imaging platform as a plugin, paving the way to a scalable system, which could also handle clinical patient data in the immediate future.

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The University of Zaragoza, in the elite of the 500 best universities in the world

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), known as
Shanghai Ranking, which was made public on August 15, once again places the University of Zaragoza among the elite of the 500 best universities in the world.

This indicator organizes up to 20,000 university centers worldwide. Among the keys that have been able to positively influence the results of the research, according to the Vice Chancellor for Prospect, Sustainability and Infrastructure of the University of Zaragoza, Francisco Serón, are the increase in public campus funding for four years as well as the quality of their Scientists.

The University of Zaragoza houses three of NANBIOSIS Units:

U9 Synthesis of Nanoparticles Unit, led by Jesús Santamaría and Gema Martínez

U13 Tissue & Scaffold Characterization Unit, led by Miguel Ángel Martínez Barca and Fany Peña

U27 High Performance Computing , led by Pablo Laguna

Since 2003, every August, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), known as “Shanghai Ranking,” is published, one of the international reference studies to compare higher education institutions. The ranking selects the 1,000 best educational institutions from a global point of view, among the 20,000 higher education centers that exist.

It is possibly the most famous and most recognized university analysis that values the quality of institutions in the generation of knowledge. The research community respects the results of these rankings because they are based on objective data and their classification is reproducible.


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