There are currently ten vaccine projects in Spain in the preclinical phase, with different orientations. Of these, there are three led by researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) -the National Center for Biotechnology has received a sum of 4.45 million euros for vaccine, antibody and antiviral projects- and another seven from different centers of research that have been selected by the COVID-19 Fund to receive funding. In total, they have been granted 2.3 million euros from this call, which manages the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) .
In addition, the ISCIII itself has another project on vaccines underway at the National Center for Microbiology, led by the researcher Vicente Mas, which will support the rest of the research, providing data on the immune response and improving the composition of possible vaccine candidates. Accompanied by the director of the ISCIII, Raquel Yotti, and the deputy director of Evaluation and Promotion of Research at the ISCIII, Cristóbal Belda, the Minister of Science and Innovation has received information on the progress of this and three other projects that are part of the Fund COVID-19.
Specifically, the researcher Felipe García, from IDIBAPS-Hospital Clínico de Barcelona, is leading a project that aims to develop a mRNA vaccine that induces long-term immunity against COVID-19. For this, a small RNA will be used, which will contain the sequences that encode small regions of virus proteins (epitopes) to induce the production of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and that will be co-formulated with nanoparticles. For the selection of these sequences, mathematical models will be used in collaboration with the University of Barcelona.
MRNA vaccines represent a very novel alternative to conventional vaccines, fast to develop, easy and cheap to produce, safe and easy to administer.
The CoviNanoVax project coordinated by Salvador Borrós and Cristina Folnaguera, at the Ramón Llull University, is also working on an mRNA vaccine. Its design, based on a mRNA vaccine linked to polymeric nanoparticles targeting dendritic cells, tries to develop a specific immune response to immunize healthy but susceptible people, to protect them against future infections with SARS-CoV-2.
The researcher Rafael Blasco, from the National Institute of Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA) has also participated in the videoconference. At the INIA Animal Research Center, he coordinates a project based on a vaccine vector (MVA) with adapted plasmids. This is a proposal for dual vaccines that is already quite advanced thanks to previous research, and that should be developed by adapting plasmids to the selected SARS-CoV-2 genes.
Investigators have explained the status of their investigations and the progress they have made in recent weeks to Minister Pedro Duque, who has reiterated the Government's support for his investigations and urged them to continue collaborating with each other.