The global pandemic that we are living poses a major challenge for society at all levels. In these moments of uncertainty, IRB Barcelona has put what it knows best, cutting-edge research, at the service of the public.
IRB Barcelona’s efforts are focused on two lines of action. The first is participation in the mass PCR-based screening initiative of the Orfeu Programme, driven by the Government of Catalonia, in collaboration with the research centres CRG, IBEC and CNAG.
The second line of action is the research projects that have been launched in response to the pandemic. The different projects underway at IRB Barcelona seek to provide solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
Some of these projects center on studying key elements of the virus and the infection process: the study of the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 (and also other types of coronavirus), the mechanisms used by the virus to enter our cells, and how the virus interacts with our immune system. All the information obtained from these molecular studies will be very useful for the design of new therapeutic strategies to combat the disease.
Moreover, using computer and artificial intelligence tools, we are analysing the potential of a large database of molecules with therapeutic potential or even drugs that are already approved for use in humans to be repurposed to combat COVID-19. In the latter case, as these compounds have already passed all the necessary regulations, their administration to patients could be much faster.
IRB Barcelona is a multidisciplinary centre, in other words, it combines areas as diverse as computational biology, chemistry, molecular biology and experimental animal models. This multidisciplinarity is the essence of the institute and the use of these complementary tools, together with a close network of collaborators in the clinical setting, allows us to have a global vision of the problem and, therefore, of the solution.
Fundamental research is (and will always be) vital to advance knowledge so that it can be transferred to society. It is the key to tackling this pandemic and, above all, to allow us to prepare for those to come. Research is certain to succeed but, because of its characteristics, its results are seen only in the long-term.
Since its beginning, IRB Barcelona has been committed to the great challenges of society, investigating unresolved medical needs, and in the current context of a global health crisis this commitment is more evident than ever. Our motto "The medicine of the future starts here" being all the more fitting for these times.