Whilst in lockdown, the Catalan Department of Health announced the support with 4 million euros 19 research and innovation projects against the virus. The selected 19 projects are led by researchers from the different health research centers that belong to the IRISCAT Alliance. The IISPV’s Group Leader Prof. Francesc Vidal will lead one of the two projects awarded in the area of biomarkers and preventive studies. This complex study will be carried out in collaboration between several IISPV research units utilising the well-established culture of collaboration existing at the Institute.
Researchers aim to conduct an extensive analysis of Covid-19 patients’ blood characteristics to pinpoint biomarkers for the prognosis of the disease. The study will advance in our understanding of the link between the immunopathology of the Covid-19 infection and the patient’s immune response. It will implement early prognostic biomarkers to help predict the impact of Covid-19 in future outbreaks. Moreover, it will also uncover potential therapeutic methods to enhance the patient’s immune response to infection.
To do so, researchers have designed a multi-disciplinary approach to study white blood cells (cells closely involved in viral infections) of patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Two different clinical stages of the infection will be considered to detect any difference of Covid-19 infection: patients just infected with Covid-19 and another group after 4 weeks of evolution.
Dr. Anna Rull, one of the leading researchers involved in the study noted that: “We are tackling an unprecedented situation, a pandemic which fundamentally changed our day to day. We, as healthcare researchers have focused all our efforts to combat Covid-19, applying all our expertise“.
Alba Vergés, the Minister of Department of Health of Catalonia, highlighted the role of this initiative and of the quality of biomedical research carried out in our region: “It is a basic pillar, one of the highest priorities and in times of pandemic it is also a “message of hope” “.