UCIBIO has been awarded another research project in the scope of the “Research 4 COVID-19” funding call launched by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). Gabriela Almeida has been awarded 40 k€ for the research project “Quick COVID-19 Detection (QuiCoviDe)”. In the second edition of “RESEARCH 4 COVID-19”, the special support for rapid implementation projects for innovative response solutions to COVID-19 pandemic, 55 projects were funded.
Fast and extensive testing is fundamental to understand and prevent the current COVID-19 pandemics at both local and global scales. The project coordinated by Gabriela Almeida aims at developing a simple, quick and cost-effective test for direct detection of the new corona virus SARS-CoV-2,the QuiCoviDe, with no need of cumbersome viral RNA preparation. “In particular, monoclonal antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2’s surface proteins will be coupled to a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) transducer, which detects changes in the refractive index induced by binding events with extremely high sensitivity.”, explains Gabriela Almeida.
As QuiCoviDe targets the SARS-CoV-2 itself, and not the antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which are only detected after 8-10 days of infection, it will spot COVID-19 at an early stage, including asymptomatic infected people. In addition, it does not require expensive bench equipment and highly trained personnel, solving current issues on long time-to-results and supply-chain dependence. Very importantly, it will be deployable, enabling the disease’s control at the point-of-care (e.g. hospitals, clinics) and outbreak control spots, such as schools, airports, and nursing homes.
The project will benefit from a highly interdisciplinary team having the required expertise in complementary research fields, namely: Biosensors (Maria Gabriela Almeida, UCIBIO and CESEM), Optoelectronics (A. Fantoni, ISEL and UNINOVA), Nanotechnology (E. Alegria, ISEL and CQE), Virology (H. Barroso, CESEM), Molecular diagnostics (Alexandra Fernandes, leader of the Human Genetics and Cancer Therapeutics Research Lab at UCIBIO - FCT NOVA) and Infectiology (H. Pinheiro, HCC; T. Nunes, HGO).