“Analysis and development of second-generation diagnostic and therapeutic solutions against SARS -CoV-2 by combining of biomolecular and digital technologies (BioTICfinder)”.

This project has been granted through the 2021 call for R&D&I projects related to COVID-19 that favor the recovery and digital transition of Galician SMEs, CONECTA COVID Program, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the ERDF Galicia 2014-2020 operational program as part of the Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of this project consists in developing new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for SARS-CoV-2 based on aptamers by combining chemical, molecular biology and digital technologies, and is proposed by a consortium made up by the following entities: Lincbiotech (project leader), the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Galchimia and Televes. It also has the scientific collaboration of the company Mestrelab Research.

The objectives of this project are:

  • Diagnostic area: Development of new methods and point-of-care devices for virus detection, overcoming some of the current limitations of commercially available tools.
    • Development and validation of a rapid antigen test based on the use of modified and chemically optimized aptamers, adapted for lateral flow chromatography systems, allowing early detection of COVID-19 in asymptomatic and veterinary uses.
    • Adaptation of aptamer technology to point-of-care devices using optical, digital and molecular technologies to detect the presence of virus in residual samples with minimal sample pre-treatment requirements.
    • Digitalization of lateral flow test reading results and processing of the data generated, through the development and industrialization of a digital reader based on low-cost spectrographs for this type of test.
    • Development of algorithms for processing the images generated by the lateral flow digital reader in order to determine the viral load of positive patients based on the intensity of the test line.
  • Therapeutic area: Development of new antiviral candidates based on the conjugation of aptamers and protein degraders against SARS-CoV-2.
    • Development of a technological platform that combines digital techniques to predict interactions of compounds with the proteins of interest, synthesis systems and chemical optimization and techniques of in-vitro and molecular analysis for the discovery and optimization of new antiviral candidates for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
    • Design and synthesis of new antiviral candidates based on aptamer conjugates and protein degraders (both PROTACs17 and LYTACs18) targeting the structural proteins of SARS-COV-2, allowing the treatment of COVID-19 at early stages of the disease.
    • Selection of optimal candidates for aptamer conjugates and protein-degrading by applying digital technologies to interpret the interaction between different ligands and components of the protamer complexes and of these with the proteins of interest.
    • In-vitro validation of the developed protamer and lytamer candidates.

In general, the objectives of this first annuity have been satisfactorily achieved. In the diagnostic field we have obtained a significant number of optimized aptamers, we have selected the optimal design of the lateral flow and we have completed, well in advance, the adaptation of the use of aptamers to the detection, through a point-of-care, of SARS -CoV-2 in wastewater, with very good results. In the therapeutic field, the design of the compounds and their analysis by NMR have begun, and finally these have been synthesized and initially tested in vitro with very positive preliminary results.