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A report from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) collects in open access the results of a year of research on SARS-CoV-2. The book ‘A global vision of the COVID-19 pandemic’ shows the responses and solutions obtained by the 300 research teams of the CSIC Global Health Platform. The Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC-CSIC) has participated in the preparation of the chapter ‘Actions in containment and diagnosis’:

Visit CSIC website to read the full news.

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New COVID-19 Diagnostic System Ready for Trials in Clinical Samples

The new system for the rapid, economic and efficient diagnosis of COVID-19 devised by the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), the IIS La Fe and the CIBER-BBN is now ready for trials on clinical samples. Since the pandemic broke out, the group of Professor Ramón Martínez Máñez, a researcher at the IDM Institute of the UPV and scientific director of the CIBER-BBN and NANBIOSIS U26 RNM for Biomedical Applications I, has been working on an alternative for the diagnosis of COVID-19, based on nanoporous films. These materials are capable of storing an indicator that is released only in the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus thanks to a system of molecular gates. And they do it very quickly, reliably and easily.

The material has already demonstrated its ability to detect the Spike protein present in SARS-CoV-2 and also its function for the detection of a model virus that expresses the aforementioned protein and that has been implemented by the Viral Biology group of the I2SysBio, center mixed of the University of Valencia and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), led by Dr. Ron Geller.

“These advances represent another step towards obtaining the final device and confirming that the system is capable of recognizing virus particles”, highlights Ramón Martínez Máñez, director of NANBIOSIS U26 NMR for Biomedical Applications I.

The UPV team of researchers will carry out the clinical validation of the device in collaboration with Dr. Javier Pemán and Dr. Mª Ángeles Tormo, from the Serious Infection Research Group at IIS La Fe, by Dr. María Dolores Gómez, Head of the Molecular Microbiology Unit of the Microbiology Service of the Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe and by Drs. Miguel Salavert and Eva Calabuig, of the Infectious Diseases Unit of the aforementioned hospital.

Once its sensitivity for the diagnosis of COVID-19 has been verified, it is planned to develop a final kit and obtain the CE marking, which will allow its commercialization. “We hope that this process will be carried out as quickly as possible and that it may be on the market to provide a new tool in the face of the pandemic that we are suffering,” says Dr. Elena Aznar, a researcher at CIBER-BBN.

Among the advantages of the device devised by the researchers of the UPV, UV, CSIC, IIS La Fe and CIBER-BBN, I would highlight its ease of use, being able to be used for the diagnosis of COVID-19 in places with limited infrastructure. Furthermore, it does not require highly qualified personnel and the sample does not have to be analyzed in specialized laboratories.

“In addition, the POC technologies on which it is based are global detection tools to monitor for possible new outbreaks in the future, so that once it is ready for use, it will contribute to the rapid implementation of containment measures”, he highlights Ramón Martínez Máñez.

The development of this project is financed by funds from the Covid-19 Donations of the Generalitat Valenciana, made by people and companies during 2020 to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. The solidarity of the Valencian citizenship materialized in donations of about 1 million euros, destined entirely to research projects of excellence against the virus such as the one led by Professor Martínez Máñez, managed by the Ministry of Innovation, Universities, Science and Society Digital.

The project also has the support of the Supera COVID-19 Fund, promoted by Crue Universidades Españolas, Banco Santander -through Santander Universidades- and the CSIC. In addition, the I2SysBio Viral Biology group (UV-CSIC) received funding from the Valencian Innovation Agency (AVI) for the implementation of the model virus.

Related news:

COVID-19 detection system: a fast, cheap and easy to use alternative to PCR.

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NANBIOSIS Unit 2 obtains the Biosafety Level 2 Accreditation

The laboratory of NANBIOSIS Unit 2 from IQAC-CSIC and CIBER-BBN has obtained the biosafety level 2 accreditation, which allows the laboratory to work with biological agents classified in the risk group 2.

Biological containment level 2 (NBS2) laboratories are generally required to work with any derivative of human blood or other primates, body fluids (especially when they are visibly contaminated with blood), cell lines, or tissues in which has uncertainty about the presence of an infectious agent.

Also, the group participates in the COVID project “Point-of-care tests for the rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 (POC4CoV)”, funded by the CSIC. This project involves the handling of swabs and serum samples from both positive and negative SARS-CoV-2 patients. Lluïsa Vilaplana, member of research group Nb4D of CIBER-BBN and IQAC-CSIC, led by Dra. M. Pilar Marco, wich Coordinates NANBIOSIS U2, has coordinated the process to obtain the accreditation.

The laboratory has an antechamber or clean locker room, a card-controlled entry system and a space for the storage of materials and reagents. It has also an independent air conditioning system, a specific air renewal system and a biosafety cabin type 2A, with HEPA filter. In addition, it is equipped with a suitable lighting system, an emergency lighting system and a large observation peephole on the door.

In addition to this specific equipment, the laboratory is equipped with an inverted microscope, centrifuge, thermostatic bath, stirrers, incubators, refrigerator and autoclave for sterilization and waste management.

The Nanobiotechnology for Diagnosis (Nb4D) research group , focus the research on the development of biomarkers for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Nowadays, the group participates in five research projects related to this topic. These projects involve working with clinical samples for the detection of the pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Gram – type bacteria) and Staphylococcus aureus (Gram + type bacteria), both classified in risk group 2.

Source of information: IQAC-CSIC Communication

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Researchers of NANBIOSIS U3 working in a project to develop molecules with neutralizing properties of SARS-CoV-2

The research group of Chemical Multivalent Systems for Nanomedicine and NANBIOSIS U3 Sinthesys of Peptides Unit, of IQAC-CSIC and CIBER-BBN, participates in a new project that seeks to develop molecules with neutralizing properties of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the COVID-19 disease, for the treatment of patients requiring hospitalization and clinical supervision due to the severity of the infection.

The project, led by the Public University of Navarra (UPNA) and Navarrabiomed, counts with the participation of researchers from institute of advanced chemistry of catalonia (Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia), IRB Barcelona (Institute for Biomedical Research), CIBER-BBN (Center for Networked Biomedical Research in the thematic area of Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine) and the IRTA (Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology).

With an expected duration of twelve months, the project brings together a multidisciplinary team: chemical synthesis, protein engineering, structural analysis, cell biology, as well as specialists in BSL3 biosafety conditions (the third level of biosafety for laboratories of a scale of four) to be able to test the potential of these molecules.

These molecules with neutralizing properties of SARS-CoV-2 are based on specific peptides of the ACE-2 receptor capable of reducing or nullifying the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2. The chemical part of the project will be carried out by Miriam Royo and Daniel Pulido (NANBIOSIS Unit 3), with the design and performance of the synthesis of ligands based on the ACE-2 receptor.

The consortium partners hope that “the availability of molecules with high inhibitory efficacy will help substantially to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, due to the persistence and / or future outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 or other potentially dangerous coronaviruses and routes of similar entry ”, in the words of Jacinto López Sagaseta (Navarrabiomed).

The project has been granted in the “Overcome Covid-19 Fund”. This inicitative was created by Crue Spanish Universities, CSIC and Banco Santander with 8.5 million to bust three strategic axes against covid-19: applied research on the virus and its prevention, social impact and strengthening the technological capacity of the universities, and reducing the digital gap. euros. 35 proposals were have been selected out of the 700 submitted.

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New test trials to diagnose Covid 19: Ramon Martinez, Scientific Director of CIBER-BBN is interviewed by Spanish Television

Ramón Martinez, Scientific Director of CIBER-BBN and NANBIOSIS unit 26 NMR: Biomedical Applications II is interviewed by Spanish Television about the research he is coordinating at the Polytechnic University of Valencia to develop new tests as an alternative to PCR.

Dr. Elena Aznar CIBER researcher at IQMA-IDM-UPV group explains how work these test that allow to diagnose quickly, easily, reliably and cheaply if a person is or has been infected by the SARS-COV-2 virus. Ramón Martínez Máñez, leader of the project, reports on the point where the investigation is, as well as the difference of these tests with PCR or antigen tests. These tests implement a technology of the research group that has already been used for other pathogens and that they try to adapt to the COVID virus. “My impression – explains Dr. Martínez – is that the time will come when these tests can be sold in pharmacies and can be used by the users themselves. At the moment we have to see if they work in patient samples and then adapt it so that be a marketable kit by an interested company

The interview can be whatched here:

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New updated version of the CSIC report on COVID-19

The report by Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) summarizng the most relevant scientific results on the Covid-19 pandemic.  “A global vision of the Covid-19 pandemic: What we know and what we are investigating from CSIC”, has just published its version number 4.

This report is structured in five blocks: prevention, disease, containment and diagnosis, treatment and vaccines, and global impact.

The containment and diagnosis block describes how the virus is transmitted in the air indoors and the analysis of wastewater as a system for early detection of SARS-CoV-2 is explained. In addition, the importance of diagnosis in the face of the pandemic is underlined and the different types of detection tests available and the diagnostic strategies to control the spread of the infection are detailed. The CIBER-BBN/IQAC-CSIC Nb4D research group and its research platform NANBIOSIS-ICTS Unit 2 Custom Antibody Service (CAbS) takes and important role in this block.

Pilar Marco, Scientific Director of CAbS is co-author, toguether with Cesar Fernandez (IBM-CNM-CSIC) of the chapter 3.4 “The role of the Diagnosis in the face of pandemic” wich provides information on the types of tests, how to perform and how to use them for the different purposes for which  diagnosis is an indispensable tool. “From a broad perspective, we can  distinguish between two types of tests: A. Viral tests: they detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, include the well-known PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) or molecular tests, which detect the genetic material virus B. Test that detect the response of the human body to infection. They include so-called “serological tests, which detect antibodies produced by the patient’s immune system, although other types of biomarkers can also be detected.”

For further information and access to report: http://hdl.handle.net/10261/218312 

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COVID-19 detection system: a fast, cheap and easy to use alternative to PCR.

PCR (acronym in English for “Polymeric Chain Reaction”), is a type of diagnostic test for the detection of infectious diseases. The PCR diagnosis of COVID-19 used since the outbreak of the pandemic offers a high level of specificity and sensitivity but presents a certain degree of complexity, requiring specialized personnel and is expensive.

Researchers from Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Valencian Community (FISABIO), the La Fe Health Research Institute (IIS La Fe) and the consortium Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Bioengineering, Biomateriales y Nanomedicina (CIBER-BBN) has been working, during the pandemic. Within the framework of the Diacovid project, different tests have been carried out with a first prototype of a rapid point-of-care (POC) test, based on nanosystems with molecular gates, that would detect quickly, reliably and easily, SARS-CoV-2.

Ramón Martínez Máñez, Scientific Director of Nanbiosis U26 NMR: Biomedical Applications II explains the advantages of POC techniques as their ability to diagnose in sites with limited infrastructure, without specially qualified staf and without the requirement to transport the sample to a centralized facility. In addition, POC technologies are global detection tools for surveillance against possible new outbreaks in the future. Its use would allow the rapid implementation of containment measures, reduction of therapeutic response times, in situ detection and the use of a low sample volume.

Further information and News in UPV TV

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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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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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NANBIOSIS scientists in Aragón, explain on TV their research againts coronavirus

The special program on the coronavirus pandemic  by “En Ruta con la Ciencia” of Aragón Televisión, analyzes different aspects of the disease with special attention to the work of Aragonese scientists. Among them, two  research groups that coordinate NANBIOSIS units 9 and 27.

Starting at minute 44’45 ‘of the program, Doctor Jesús Lázaro, researcher of the BSICoS group of I3A-UZ and CIBER-BBN, led by Pablo Laguna, which coordinates NANBIOSIS U27 High Performance Computing Unit, explains his research. For almost 3 years, Jesús Lázaro had been working on a European project to develop a respiratory and heart rate monitoring system for patients with EPOC to control and predict episodes of worsening disease, but the current situation has led him to redirect his goal to try to provide solutions in this crisis and have creates an application for the mobile phone to detect from our home, if we have a viral infection: – “The parameters measured by this application have to do with the nervous system Autonomous, – explains Jesús Lázaro – they are the heart rate, its variability and the respiratory rate, these three parameters would allow observing a response through SARS-COV-2. The application works based on a technology that uses the flash of the mobile phone camera as a receiver to obtain a signal that is proportional to the blood volume of the finger put on the flash light, what allows detecting both, the number of beats per minute and the morphology of the arterial pulse, to obtain the respiratory rate. At the moment this application has been tested by the research staff and the next phase is to assess it with the general public. As the application is based on detecting autonomic markers, a very high sensitivity is expected, as well as a very low specificity, which would allow detecting not only SARS-COV-2 but analyzing these parameters in other contexts and in other diseases, even detecting other eventual viruses of other eventual pandemics ”.

Further information on the research project here

Starting at 28’14 ’’ One of the problems of the coronavirus test is what is known as false negatives, people who have passed the disease, but are not detected and could continue to spread it. A research group is developing early diagnostic tests to try to reduce this error rate. Pilar Martín Duque, at the IACS Aragonese Institute of Health Sciences, is a researcher of the NFP group of the INA and the CIBER-BBN, led by Jesús Santamaría, which coordinates NANBIOSIS U9 Synthesis of Nanoparticles Unit : – “All techniques have a detection limit and a sensitivity, it is necessary to have a minimum amount of virus in the body for the virus being detected, if the viral load is low it may not be detected at that time, it is possible that some patients with a low viral load recover, but in other cases the virus begins to grow and after two weeks they can be positives”- explains Pilar Martín. Her project makes PCRs more effective by concentrating the viral load before testing. – “There is a curious case, – continues Pilar -, of an American navy ship, moored in China, in which five sailors were detected to be infected by coronavirus, so they were quarantined during fourteen days and, after new tests with negative results, they were allowed to return to the United States on the ship. However halfway through the journey, the same five sailors suffered an outbreak of the disease. Therefore, our study would be useful for detecting patients with the virus tested for the first time or for not discharging patients who had been already diagnosed if they really are not yet negative”.  It is estimated that 10% of the population has infected 80%, these 10% are the so-called “superspreaders”, they are infected with a high viral load, but they feel well and do not know about it. For example, there have been several cases in choirs, such as the Choir of Zarzuela in Madrid, where 53 members were contagious out of the 80 members form the choir, this is because when singing or speaking very loudly, more drops are produced that carry the virus”. But why do some people become infected before others? Pilar explains that this is related to some, already known, receptors for entry of viruses, the AC2 receptors, and there are people who has more of these receptors than others.

Further information on the research here:

If we have learned anything from this pandemic it is the importance of health and research, a robust research system has the knowledge, tools, and human talent to respond to any situation. If we want to be prepared for the next pandemic, it is important and essential to continue betting on research.

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