Out of the more than 10 million euros raised by La Marató 2020, IrsiCaixa will receive almost 830,000 euros to keep making progress in research on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
Last Friday, 11 June, La Marató 2020 closed the scoreboard with more than 10M € raised. This amount of money will fund 36 research projects and will go entirely to the study of the virus that has wreaked havoc worldwide in the last year: SARS-CoV-2. The IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute –a centre jointly promoted by the "la Caixa" Foundation and the Department of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya– will carry out 5 of the 36 awarded projects and will receive approximately 830,000 € to carry them out.
A year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the knowledge generated around SARS-CoV-2 has allowed the scientific community to understand and describe the functioning of the virus and, thanks to this, to design vaccines with over 70% effectiveness. However, further study of this virus is essential not only to design increasingly effective therapies against the virus, but also to develop prevention tools to keep SARS-CoV-2 variants under control, as well as to predict future viruses of the coronavirus family that may appear. IrsiCaixa is therefore launching the following research projects:
Surveillance and outbreak control through SARS-CoV-2 genetic study
IrsiCaixa associate researcher Marc Noguera-Julian is in charge of coordinating one of the five projects that La Marató 2020 has funded for the institution. With a focus on public health, the project, which also involves the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute and the Microbiology Service of the Clinical Laboratory of the 'Metropolitana Nord', aims to develop tools that allow real-time monitoring of currently circulating variants that can cause an increase in the transmission and pathogenicity of COVID-19. To achieve this, IrsiCaixa wants to implement routine techniques in its laboratories that allow samples of SARS-CoV-2 to be sequenced easily and quickly in order to detect and stop future outbreaks.
The role of antibodies in severe COVID-19
The main objective of the project coordinated by the IrsiCaixa principal investigator Jorge Carrillo, in collaboration with the Animal Health Research Center (IRTA-CReSA) , is to carry out an exhaustive characterisation of the immune response developed in both SARS-CoV-2-infected and vaccinated individuals. Based on the hypothesis that a disproportionate immune response could be the cause of severe COVID-19, scientists involved in this project aim to decipher the role that antibodies, that is, the humoral immune response, could play in these cases.
Human mini-organs as a model for studying the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection
COVID-19 mainly affects the respiratory tract, but the disease can involve many different organs, including the brain, where it can cause cognitive deficits or headaches, among others. Although previous studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect the brain, the scientific community has not yet reached a consensus as to whether the neurological symptoms described are the result of direct infection of brain cells or the consequence of an exaggerated immune response. To study this, IrsiCaixa principal investigator Javier Martínez-Picado will coordinate this research project in collaboration with the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE: CSIC-UPF) and the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center.
Synthetic biology for the development of therapies against current and future coronaviruses
Anticipating and reducing the impact of future coronaviruses is one of the main long-term objectives of the scientific community. This is why this project, coordinated by the Pompeu Fabra University and with the participation of the Institute of Integrative Systems Biology (CSIC) and IrsiCaixa, aims to develop broad-spectrum anti-coronavirus therapies capable of inhibiting a wide range of current and future variants of SARS-CoV-2. IrsiCaixa associate researcher Maria Salgado will lead the project at the institution.
Identification and validation of markers predicting the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection
The study, coordinated by the Hospital Parc Taulí in Sabadell and with the participation of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine at Barcelona and IrsiCaixa, aims to identify markers to improve the process of early diagnosis of COVID-19, as well as to optimise the interventions performed in patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 and who present symptoms. The director and principal investigator of IrsiCaixa Bonaventura Clotet and Julià Blanco, respectively, will be in charge of leading the project at the institution.
Can Ruti Campus receives 8 La Marató projects
As a meeting point for more than 10 scientific institutions, including IrsiCaixa, this year the Can Ruti Campus will carry out 8 research projects funded by La Marató 2020, focusing on the genetic, immunological, biochemical and public health aspects of COVID-19. The Campus has more than 4,000 professionals in the field of medicine and biomedicine, who work every day to offer the best care and research service.