he Department of Health, through the General Direction fo Research and Innovation in Health (DGRI) and in collaboration with Biocat, will finance with 4 million euros a total of 19 research and innovation projects for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 disease. Three of the selected projects are led by doctors Jordi Carratalá, Rafael Mañez, and Xavier Solanich, researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Bellvitge University Hospital.
The process of evaluation and selection of proposals has been led by experts from the Department of Health and the Catalan Agency for Health Assessment and Quality (AQuAS), with the external support of a dozen of international advisers, who have selected the 19 projects from among a total of 42 proposals. Projects to be funded include COVID-19 therapies (new therapies, antibody and plasma therapies, clinical trials with new combinations and the use of marketed drugs, and clinical trials with investigational drugs for other indications); vaccines and preventive treatments; genetic studies and predictive studies (identification of virulence factors and prognostic biomarkers, and projects to study the population’s immune response and prediction of complications).
It is expected that some of the selected projects will be able to reach patients before the end of the year and provide clinical assistance with new tools to combat SARS-CoV-2.
“The scientific excellence of the projects will allow the transfer of research into clinical practice in the short term to respond to the urgency of the current situation as quickly as possible,” emphasizes the General Director of Health Research and Innovation, Robert Fabregat. On the other hand, Jordi Naval, General Director of Biocat, recalled that “since the start of the health crisis caused by COVID-19, researchers at Catalan institutes have worked against the clock to identify vaccines, therapies and other tools to help manage this crisis.”
The projects have been selected based on their uniqueness and originality, the scientific value, the clarity and adequacy of the objectives, the robustness and the credibility of the proposed methodology; the impact that its execution and applicability will have; the adequacy of the budget, calendar, equipment, resources to the stated objectives; and the immediacy, feasibility and time of arrival to the patient, prioritizing the fastest implementation projects.
The projects led by IDIBELL and the Bellvitge University Hospital are:
The project led by researcher Rafael Mañez, in collaboration with RemAb Therapeutics and IrsiCaixa, to identify a potential glycopolymer-based drug that facilitates the action of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
A clinical trial with a combination of drugs already on the market
A clinical trial led by Xavier Solanich using two drugs that suppress the immune system, already approved by other indications, in 84 patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and high analytical inflammatory parameters.
Study of the genome of Covid-19 patients to determine the genetic profile of patients who develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The project, led by researcher Jordi Carratalá, has the collaboration of the Hospital del Mar Institute for Medical Research (IMIM).
IDIBELL has started a campaign to collect funds and financing these and other projects of the Institute around the new coronavirus pandemic. We need to find a short-term and a long-term solution, help us make it possible by contributing through this link.