The ANTICOR project, led by Ron Geller, Researcher of the Ramón y Cajal program at the I2SysBio Institute for Integrative Systems Biology (University of Valencia-CSIC mixed centre), proposes a new strategy for the screening of drugs and antibodies to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This is one of the first seven initiatives supported by the Valencian Government and announced recently in the fight against COVID-19, in a call to the autonomous system of innovation. This project is part of another initiative supported by the CSIC in its PTI Global Health Interdisciplinary Thematic Platform.
The technology proposed by the ANTICOR project is based on an inexpensive, fast, secure and efficient system that will allow the development of a high-performance platform for the screening and evaluation of all types of compounds that block the entry of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, such as antiviral drugs and antibodies. This technology will also be used to evaluate infection rates in populations using a relatively rapid serological test.
The method has already been validated in the laboratory and uses a non-infectious vesicular stomatitis virus that is complemented by the coronavirus protein responsible for recognising human cells. This allows the laboratory to mimic the key moment of cell invasion by the virus. According to Ron Geller, a Member of the Pathogen Systems Biology Program at I2SysBio, “This is a very safe procedure for researchers to test molecules that interfere with this process of invading the human cell”.
The expert says that “the method is very easy to robotise to perform thousands of trials a day automatically”. The proposed technology also allows antibody testing and detection of all individuals who have been infected, even if they no longer have active infection or symptoms, and can thereby provide a more realistic measures of infection rates. Additionally, serotherapies against the virus may be evaluated. Commercial application development of this technology would be relatively quick. Victor Latorre and Florian Mattenberger are also part of the Viral Biology research group led by Ron Geller.
To the Valencian Government’s call for research and innovation against COVID-19, 265 projects have been submitted, of which a first group of 7 has been approved, including ANTICOR. The Ministry of Innovation, Universities, Science and Digital Society; the Valencian Innovation Agency (AVI); the Ministry of Universal Health and Public Health, and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Model are coordinating this initiative. The ANTICOR project is also part of an antiviral screening initiative with the support of the Interdisciplinary Thematic Platform (PTI) Global Health of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).