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News U4

News U4

New methods to detect Coronavirus: interactive webinar on the diagnosis of COVID-19

CSIC has orgnized an interactive webinar on new COVID-19 detection systems that brings together biotechnologist Luis Blanco, nanotechnologists Laura Lechuga and Pilar Marco, and physicist Javier Tamayo .

Researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) will answer citizens’ questions about the diagnostic methods of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, in a webinar or interactive debate that will be broadcast on Wednesday, June 3, at 8:15 p.m., on the CSIC YouTube channel.

The meeting will feature the participation of biotechnologist Luis Blanco, the physicist Javier Tamayo and the nanotechnologists Laura Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS unti 4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit and Pilar Marco, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS unit 2 Custom Antibody Service (CAbS). The debate will be moderated by geneticist, biotechnologist and popularizer Lluis Montoliu, from the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC),

Questions can be sent in advance to the address webinar@csic.es, by twitter with the hashtag #CSICDiagnostico or during the broadcast via YouTube chat. After the broadcast, it will be hosted on the CSIC’s YouTube channel for consultation, such as previous discussions on prevention and de-escalation and treatments and vaccines.

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“We need a drastic change in the organization and management of science”

The Jorunal “Redacción Médica” has created an espace call Covid-19 Lessons to gather critical evaluations and recommendations of the most relevant personalities in the health sector, so that the National Health System and the professional and business ecosystem that surrounds it can draw conclusions and face future similar challenges with greater guarantees.

Laura M. Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U4, from CIBER-BBN at ICN2-CSIC, coordinates CONVAT, one of the projects selected by the European Commission to advance in the knowledge about the Coronavirus, adds her perspective to the document Covid-19 Lessons: “We need a drastic change in the organization and management of science

According to prof. Lechuga, ·one of the main successes in this crisis has been the intense and excellent dedication of a large part of the international scientific community who, from a multidisciplinary perspective, has tried to contribute their talent and training to make great strides in the knowledge of this new SARS-CoV-2 virus; this crisis has driven this collaboration exponentially. “The rapid mobilization of funds and resources available to scientists has also been (and continues to be) impressive during this crisis. The pandemic has placed before the eyes of all humanity that the greatest values of our society lie in knowledge, training, science and research to face a problem of these dimensions that unfortunately may be repeated in the future.

As main errors, Laura Lechuga highlights the disconnection between the scientific and political world. “The scientits had contributed its knowledge and rigorous studies to warn of the dangers that lie in wait for us, but it is clear that until now the connection between scientific advice and government policies is extremely weak, not only in our country. country but also internationally”

Possibly, at the national level, our scientific system could have given a faster response if it had been much more robust and competitive and had not been so weakened due to the numerous cuts suffered since the previous crisis and the lack of replacement of researchers. Our research environment, although it is nourished by a lot of talent, is not so much in its own development resources, infrastructures and technologies, so its contribution is being more limited.

There is no doubt that we need a decided investment in science both in terms of human and material resources, and a drastic change in the organization and management of science, which causes our scientists to invest most of their valuable time in requests for funding, resources human and cumbersome administrative justifications, which have little to do with scientific research“.

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Scientific trends with the participation of NANBIOSIS expertise

Within the series of virtual conferences organized during the months of May, June and July by the Extremaduran office, two researchers of NANBIOSIS are invited speakers: Laura M. Lechuga Gómez, NANBIOSIS Unit 4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit (form CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSIC); and María Coronada Fernández Calderón NANBIOSIS U16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit (from CIBER-BBN and University of Extremadura)who will talk about technologies at the service of health.

The cycle ’90 minutes for Science, for innovation to bring society closer to the latest scientific trends, starts next Wednesday, May 27, at 5:00 p.m. It will deal with topics such as biomedical research and its influence on the improvement of early diagnosis of diseases (the director of the Department of Immunology and Oncology of the CSIC National Biotechnology Center, Ana Cuenda Méndez, will offer a conference on the role of proteins in inflammatory, infectious and cancer processes, and the engineer in Molecular Biotechnology and principal investigator in the Laboratory of Medical Biotechnology of the Austral University of Chile, Alejandro Rojas-Fernández, will address the generation of nano-antibodies against emerging viruses, such as COVID19), ethics in the face of the challenges of artificial intelligence.

Registration, open and free, can now be formalized on the website of the Office for Innovation.

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CoNVaT, the ‘Nanotrap’ for the coronavirus – highlighted by BBVA Fundation

Prof. Laura M. Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS Unit 4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit (from CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSCIC) was awarded with the Physics, Innovation and Technology Award of the Royal Spanish Physics Society (RSEF) and the BBVA Foundation 2016.

BBVA Foundation has dedicated an article to explain the  EU CoNVaT project, led by Laura Lechuga, whose objective is to obtain a diagnostic test for COVID-19 from the first day of infection, fast but highly sensitive, and which does not require a laboratory or qualified personnel. A test made with extremely sophisticated technology, and at the same time low cost, applicable to future waves of the epidemic. It is financed with more than two million euros by the European Union with a duration of one year.

The test is a biosensor that uses nanophotonics, and it will be used in two devices: one will detect virus proteins, the other, its genetic material. The heart of the device, and what gives it its main advantage over other existing diagnostic tests, is a chip that implements one of the most sensitive measurement techniques in physics: photonic interferometry. It is based on the idea that a beam of light undergoes small but measurable changes when it intersects an object. On the CoNVaT project chip, changes in the light beam will alert to the presence of the virus in the sample.

The test that will detect virus proteins is what is technically called an ‘antigen test’. It can be carried out in health centers or at sampling points, by non-specialized staff, and will give results in less than thirty minutes. Saliva samples will surely be used, although researchers are still studying it.

“The technique is so sensitive that it will be able to detect the presence of the virus from the first day of infection,” explains Lechuga. “And it will not only tell if the virus is or not, but also in what quantity. This is important because it gives an idea of ​​how advanced the infection is. ”

‘Nanotrap’ for the coronavirus

The device will occupy what a shoe box, but at its core, where the measurement takes place, everything happens on a nanometric scale, that is, to dimensions of millionths of millimeters. It is, in essence, a nanotrap for proteins. Researchers attach proteins designed in the laboratory specifically to trap certain proteins in the virus envelope to the chip; both fit as a key and lock, so that the proteins fixed on the chip are actually hooks of the highest specificity – they only capture the virus’s proteins.

Channels a few nanometers thick have also been engraved on the chip: light passes through them. These guides form a circuit with a single input, but which forks, so that only one of the branches passes through the protein trap. When both light beams meet again, it is observed that the one that has interacted with the proteins has undergone modifications, and it is the analysis of these changes that reveals the presence of the virus, and in what quantity.

The device to detect genetic material of the virus -RNA- is based on the same principle, but it should be done in the laboratory. Lettuce explains that its purpose will be above all to confirm the result of the first. It will be faster than the PCR currently used – less than half an hour versus several hours – and it does not need specialized technicians – something indispensable with PCR.

Biology is the most difficult

“In this type of device, the biological part is by far the most complex,” explains Lechuga. Anchor the proteins to the chip at the correct angle, stabilize them to resist movement, keep them in a liquid medium … “they are thirty steps”.

It is a very sophisticated technology but already validated in the clinic. The ICN2 Biosensors and Bioanalytical Applications Group led by Lechuga has developed, among others, nano-biosensors that detect colon cancer early in blood samples, and also for tuberculosis and sepsis cases. “One of the reasons we have achieved the ConVAT project is that we have experience with clinical samples, which is really a completely different world than the laboratory.”

The group advances fast. They started working about three weeks ago and have just received from their French collaborators proteins that match those of the virus. Patient validation, when the device is completed, will be handled by the group in Italy.

The objective, at the end of the project, is for a company to take care of scaling the technology to bring it to the market at an affordable price. “Especially in a situation like the current one, we work with the idea that our work can reach everyone, as soon as possible,” says Lechuga.

Further information in Spanish in the original article by MÓNICA G. SALOMONE BBVA Foundation

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Prof. Laura Lechuga is part of the experts advising the government on the COVID-19 crisis

The Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, and the Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, met with the Multidisciplinary Working Group that advises and supports the Ministry of Science and Innovation in scientific matters related to the COVID-19 and its future consequences. It also coordinates the preparation of reports and will propose the necessary modifications to improve the response to similar crises in the future.

The group is formed by 16 experts in fields such as law, economy, biochemistry, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, physics, statistics, immunology or medicine. Prof. Laura Lechuga, Scientific Director of @Nanbiosis U4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit, from CIBER-BBN and ICN2, is one of the experts of this group, providing advice from the nanotechnology area, particularly in the field of nanobiosensors and bioanalytical applications.

More information in Science and Innovation Ministry portal web

Source: ICN2

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Biosensors for Pandemics

Next 6 of May wii take place the On-line Conference Biosensors for Pandemics: Reliable and efficient nanotech-based diagnostics in emergency situations, will gather worldwide well known experts in biosensing technologies currently working in COVID-19 diagnostics or having very relevant technologies in the field.

Prof. Laura Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit of CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSIC, will be one of the speakers. Laura Lechuga is coordinating the European proyect CONVAT: advanced nanobiosensing platforms for point-of-care diagnostics and surveillance of coronavirus for rapid diagnosis and monitoring of COVID ー 19, 

To join


Abstract Submission (ePoster request): April 22, 2020

Author Submission Acceptance Notification: April 24, 2020

Flash Poster Acceptance Notification: April 24, 2020

Early Bird Registration Fee: April 24, 2020

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COVIDー 19: diagnosis advantages and limitations of different techniques

Prof. Laura Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit of CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSIC, who is coordinating the European proyect CONVAT for rapid diagnosis and monitoring of COVID ー 19, will be one of the speakers at the webinar organized next tuesday, 16 by the Young Academy of Spain, (JAE) about How Spanish science is contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

The talk by Prof Lechuga is titled “COVIDー 19 diagnosis: advantages and limitations of different techniques

Global Young Academy (GYA) was created in 2010 at the initiative of young scientists and researchers from around the world who met in 2008 and 2009 during the “Annual Meeting of the New Champions”, known as “Summer Davos”. One of the objectives of the GYA is to promote the creation of National Young Academies around the world. JAE was created in march 2019 with the aim of representing and giving visibility to young scientists, preferably from the field of experimental sciences. The profile of the members of this Academy will coincide with the average of 40 years of age and 12 years from the attainment of the title of doctor, since a young scientist is understood as one who has reached maturity and is in the phases initials of his independent research career. Jesús Martínez de la Fuente, Principal Investigator of a CIBER-BBN group is Member of the Governing Board of the Young Academy of Spain.

Event Program

Link to the event

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Laura Lechuga talks about CONVAT, the project for a faster and cheaper diagnose of COVID-19

Prof. Laura M. Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS Unit 4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit (from CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSCIC) has been today interview by Cadena Ser Radio in the program “Hoy por Hoy”

The interview can be listened in the following podcast, begining at 44 minute.

‘Convat’ is a nanotechnological device with biosensors capable of determining in less than half an hour the presence of coronavirus in a person. A sample saliva is deposited on a nanochip three centimeters long. If the saliva contains the virus, it will bind to antibodies located on the nanochip. A beam of light will be passed through the device so that the light will change if it encounters the virus and antibody in its path. The light will be analyzed automatically and the result will be transmitted to a smartphone or tablet. In less than 30 minutes a positive or negative result would be obtained and, in case of detecting the presence of the virus, in another 30 minutes at most the reconfirmation would be obtained. It is not intended for domestic use, but neither will a specialist technician be needed and it could be carried out in a massive way.

Simpler, cheaper and easier than current methods, this rapid diagnostic kit will not be ready for the first wave of the coronavirus, but it can be useful to detect it later if this virus is here to stay.

Yesterday, Laura Lechuga was also invited to explain the CONVAT project to the spanish television programe “A partir de hoy“.

‘Convat’, la prueba que puede detectar el coronavirus


Prof Laura Lechuga was also interviwed by TV3 in the program Planta Baixa 

More information here

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COVID-19 diagnose, faster and cheaper.

In order speed up research into the coronavirus, the European Commission recently announced a special call for projects to tackle the COVID-19, based on already developed technologies. Projectcs were prepared in a record time and 17 proposals have been awarded founds, 6 of them with spanish colaboration and only one coordinated by Spain

CONVAT is a cooperation project between Spain, Italy and France coordinated by Prof. Laura M. Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS Unit 4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit (from CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSCIC) and also participated by the group of Prof. Jordi Serra Cobo from the University of Barcelona, having extensive experience in the study of coronavirus in animals and its epidemiology; Prof. Remi Charrel‘s laboratory at the University of Marseille (France), leader in virology and molecular biology, pioneering the development and production of biological material for the validation of new diagnostic systems and the Italian National Institute of Infectious Diseases (INMI), where researchers from Dr Antonino Di Caro‘s laboratory were among the first to sequence the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and which is the reference institute for the analysis and diagnosis of COVID-19

CONVAT will develop a point-of-care platform, for rapid diagnosis and monitoring of coronavirus, directly from the patient’s sample and without the need for testing in centralized clinical laboratories. The new device based on optical biosensor nanotechnology is espected to become massively available in less than 12 months. The project indeed aims to extend beyond the current pandemic and the human diagnosis. The new biosensor will also be used for the analysis of different types of coronavirus present in reservoir animals, such as bats, in order to observe and monitor possible evolutions of these viruses and prevent future outbreaks in humans

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Laura Lechuga, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS Unit 4 is interviewed by CIBER Bulletin

Laura M. Lechuga, group leader of the CIBER-BBN at the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and Sccientific Director of NANBIOSIS Unit 4 Biodeposotion Unit explains her research in an interview to CIBER Bulletin

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