What have we done at FRESCI to fight the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?
Other than countering the fake news infodemic, FRESCI has done NOTHING. At least UNTIL....
...LAST MONTH, when we received a call from Dr. Núria Amigó (Biosfer Teslab CEO). Biosfer Teslab is a spin-off of University Rovira i Virgili and IISPV and they are experts in applying hardcore metabolomics into very applied real life paradigms.
Dr. Amigó is like a hurricane: powerful, adrenalinic and unstoppable. So we have been dragged into her brilliant idea to develop a metabolomic AI-based test to provide a prognosis tool and COVID-19 patients’ risk stratification. Biosfer Teslab has already developed Smart Health solutions like these (e.g. the Liposcale® test) and they are all over the world thanks to their partnership with Laboratorios Rubió.
Moreover, Dr. Amigó has already established a collaboration with two hospitals (Hospital Universitari Sant Joan and Hospital Universitario Fundación Alcorcón) to obtain 1.000 samples from COVID-19 patients. She got skills and she got energy. And she asked FRESCI for help in finding all possible strategic funding opportunities, to build a consortium and to draft a successful proposal with a clear exploitation strategy.
It sounds amazing and exciting, isn’t it? The only problem was TIME. We had only 10 days to build a consortium and to draft the proposal from scratch. Only 240 hours for a brand new H2020 project (SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020-2B). The solution has been easy and all we need was to turn-on our “fast and furious” mode. In the end, who didn’t write a project proposal in few days during his/her postdoc?
So we joint forces and built a consortium of very enthusiastic partners in 48 hours only, found a third very skillful project manager, Dr. Lydia Cabau and then we basically stopped sleeping.
VISIONING, this is the project name.
VISIONING proposal is not perfect, we do not know if it is successful and we know we can do better. However, the idea to help predicting the clinical evolution of COVID-19 patients is very important when specific therapeutic strategies are not available.
It is important to clinicians to provide a faster response, it is important to healthcare professionals and family to relieve psychological stress and it is important to manage hospital critical resources.
Moreover, this metabolomic AI-prognostic test can represent the proof of concept of bringing cost-effective personalized and precision medicine solutions into the clinical practice.
Metabolome is indeed the most closed-to-phenotype molecular analysis that can be performed, being the results of the interaction of our genome with the external environment. And its health applications are infinite.
Most likely we won’t be funded this time, but we will keep looking for opportunities since the idea is strong.
In any case, this was our small contribution to fight this COVID-19 pandemic with our scientific professional experience.
Science is not our job, science is our way of life. We are scientists. And we feel always compelled to contribute any way possible for a better world.
We are very thankful to Xavier Correig and Lluis Masana (URV), Carlos Guijarro (FHAlcorcon), Mads Lause and Logan Ward (Treat systems), Alejo Llopart-Mascaro and Dina Ferreira (Laboratorios Rubió), Elaine Gemmell and Jim McGuire (Kynesis consulting), Silvia Ciotti and Filippo Balistreri (Eurocrime), Alba Marti (IISPV), Lydia Cabau and of course to Núria Amigó for coordinating this adventure.
P.S.: By the way, fighting fake news is a social and civic duty. And at FRESCI we are highly committed against this plague.