The latest studies work on detection by optical visualization of the virus, diagnostic nanotechnology, supercomputing to find drugs and the development of a possible vaccine.
With these 15 projects, the COVID-19 Fund, managed by ISCIII, has allocated 5 million euros to promote projects and programs that aim to generate knowledge about the virus and seek short-term solutions that improve the lives of patients and the work of health professionals and researchers. In total, it has received more than 1,300 requests from all over Spain.
One of the new funded projects is developing an optical surface visualization system in order to be able to identify virus residues where it has been present. With the help of cameras that manage various light spectra, it would be possible to 'see' the SARS-CoV-2 in a room, for example. The investigation is carried out by the Sevilla University, he Institute of Biomedicine of Seville and the Group of Specialist Technicians in Deactivation of Explosive Devices (TEDAX) of the National Police.
Another investigation is working on the identification of immunoglobulin antibodies (IgG) capable of interrupting the interaction of the virus with its cellular receptor thanks to the use of nanosensors. These IgG proteins, which protect the body after infection by acting as antibodies against the disease, are able to stop the virus from binding with the cells it infects. This diagnostic project, based on nanotechnology, is led by the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation of Cádiz (INIBICA).
As was the case with another of the projects approved a few days ago, another of the research now funded studies the repositioning of drugs, that is, the use of drugs already approved to treat other diseases and that could be effective against COVID-19. In this case, it is a project based on supercomputing, led by the National Supercomputing Center- Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), which would speed up the use of new therapies against the disease that are already available in the market with other therapeutic indications. Thanks to the analysis of the mechanisms of action of tens of thousands of drugs and the biological study of the proteins that have already been studied of the virus, supercomputing can make the search for new drugs more efficient and faster, speeding up possible in vitro tests, in animal models and people.
Finally, the last of the new selected projects works with a possible modification of a vaccine that is being developed against tuberculosis, called MTBVAC, entirely produced in Spain. The development of this project, currently in the final preclinical phases, aims to explore whether the non-specific immunity against SARS-CoV-2 that this vaccine could generate can be effective enough to start studies in people in the coming weeks. This research is being led by the Zaragoza's University.