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Monday, 27 April 2020

Prof. Kostas Kostarelos claims scientists should be back in the labs as ‘essentials’ to face COVID-19 emergency

In an opinion article published today by Nature Nanotechnology, Prof. Kostas Kostarelos shares his views on what may be going wrong in the fight against COVID-19 and how the nanoscience community could contribute. He suggests applying the three key principles in managing an individual cancer patient: early detection, monitoring and targeting. Prof. Kostas Kostarelos recently became Senior Group Leader at the ICN2 after a long-standing collaboration that is now reinforced through the ICN2 Severo Ochoa talent attraction strategy. He will continue directing the Nanomedicine Lab at the University of Manchester, while also leading the new ICN2 Nanomedicine Group.

As the curve seems to flatten in countries such as Spain and lockdown release strategies start to be put into place, the new ICN2 Group Leader Prof. Kostas Kostarelos publishes an academic thesis entitled 'Nanoscale nights of COVID-19' in today’s issue of Nature Nanotechnology. He claims that the biomedical scientific community have the responsibility and should be given priority as ‘essential workers’ to support clinical and healthcare professionals working on the frontline of the pandemic. The text underlines the need to maximize support, creativity and synergies free from any political, linguistic, financial, geographical or scientific discipline obstacles.

How to face COVID-19: The Cancer Analogy

Prof. Kostas Kostarelos explains in the Nature Nanotechnology thesis article how his experience in cancer research and nanotechnology suggests a model that could also be applied to a viral pandemic like COVID-19. He says ‘’first of all, there is a need to transform people’s thinking that this is not a tsunami that will shortly go away. Once this is understood and accepted, then the discussion should focus on how to best manage viral outbreaks as a chronic pathological condition’’. The cancer analogy becomes apparent in that context. “There are three key principles in managing an individual cancer patient: early detection, monitoring and targeting”, says Professor Kostarelos.

He argues that “early detection of individuals and groups, who are infected with COVID-19, could substantially accelerate the ability to manage distancing and treat patients.” He also says that “monitoring should be undertaken not only for patients already infected with COVID-19, to track progression and responses, but also for healthy essential workers to ensure that they remain healthy and to reduce the risk of further spreading”. Finally, says Professor Kostarelos, “the principle of ‘targeting’ should be applied for the management of COVID-19 patients to be able to safely isolate them and ensure they receive prompt treatment, but by keeping the rest, healthy and low risk majority of society fully functioning”. He concludes: “if all three principles are applied, science should be considered ‘essential’ and the rest of society can begin to return to normal function to best support its sick and most vulnerable and learn how to better manage this and all future pandemics that will surely arrive.”

Article reference:
Kostas Kostarelos. Nanoscale nights of COVID-19. Nature Nanotechnology, 2020.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-020-0687-4

Nanomedicine: a new Group to reinforce the ICN2 Health Application Domain

Prof. Kostas Kostarelos has joined the ICN2 as a Severo Ochoa Distinguished Professor to lead a new group devoted to Nanomedicine. He is developing this new endeavour while maintaining his positions at the University of Manchester as Professor and Chair of Nanomedicine at the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. There he is leading the Nanomedicine Lab that is part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and the National Graphene Institute. This announcement marks the culmination of a process that started years ago and brings to the ICN2 an influential researcher with a profound impact in the translation of carbon nanomaterials, like graphene, into pharmaceuticals, biotech and medical devices, together with his know-how and network of international connections.

This new group reinforces the already well established Health Application Domain within the ICN2 Strategic Plan as developed for the Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence accreditation (SEV-2017-0706) funded by the Spanish State Research Agency.