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ITQB NOVA Researchers win 1M€ la Caixa Grant

The project aims to develop and validate biopharmaceuticals against emerging viruses

A team led by ITQB NOVA researchers Cláudio M. Soares and Diana Lousa has won a la Caixa Grant to create a platform to rapidly develop and produce new biopharmaceuticals to fight emerging viruses. The team, composed by researchers from ITQB NOVA, iMM, IGC, the Católica Biomedical Research Centre and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC – Spain), aims to develop the BioPlaTTAR Platform for the Tailored and Rapid Development of Antiviral Biopharmaceuticals.

The project will tackle viral diseases such as influenza and COVID-19, which are a threat to global health and socio-economic stability. Responding rapidly and effectively to viral threats and outbreaks requires targeted therapeutic solutions.  Biopharmaceuticals can play a key role, precisely because of their high potential specificity. However, their use requires rapid development and production strategies.

To resolve this issue, the researchers aim to build an integrated platform to design new molecules that are potentially active against a given threat and validate them in vitro and in vivo. The platform, known as BioPlaTTAR, will accelerate the development of biopharmaceuticals for specific pathogens in emergency situations.

“Results could pave the way for new treatments to be used as an alternative to or in combination with small molecules and vaccines”, says Project Leader Cláudio M. Soares. In the future, this platform can be adapted to new viral outbreaks. “We believe the platform will boost the competitiveness and self-sufficiency of Europe in the field of biopharmaceutical development,” complements co-leader Diana Lousa.

The BioPlaTTAR project involves the researchers Cláudio M. Soares, Diana Lousa, Manuel Melo, João Vicente and Isabel Abreu, from ITQB NOVA; Ana Salomé Veiga and Miguel Castanho, from the Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM); Maria João Amorim, from the Católica Biomedical Research Center (CBR), Universidade Católica Portuguesa and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. José Maria Valpuesta, from the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC - Spain), completes the team.

The Grant is sponsored by la Caixa and the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia. 23,1 milhões have been attributed to the winner projects – 20 Spanish and 13 Portuguese proposals. These projects will be developed over the next three years, giving new hope for several health conditions.

Researchers involved in the project (from left to right): Manuel Melo, Maria João Amorim, José Maria Valpuesta, Ana Salomé Veiga, Cláudio M. Soares, Diana Lousa, Miguel Castanho, Isabel Abreu, João Vicente. 


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