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Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Prof. Laura Lechuga participates in a WHO scientific meeting on strategies to prevent and face possible future pandemics

by Virginia Greco

The WHO R&D Blueprint organised this consultation with experts in the field to apply scientific lessons learned during the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic and draw an outline list of scientific gaps and priority research questions to prepare for pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential.

On August 29-30 the World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting (‘Scientific strategies from recent outbreaks to help us prepare for Pathogen X’) with researchers and clinicians from around the world who contributed to the fight against COVID-19 and the prevention of possible future viral outbreaks. In order to face the pandemic caused by the spread of the SARS-COV-2 infection, the WHO activated the R&D Blueprint to accelerate diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for this coronavirus. The Blueprint aims to improve coordination between scientists and global health professionals, accelerate the research and development process, and define new norms and standards to learn from and improve upon the global response.

This consultation organised by the WHO R&D Blueprint was meant to collect information and discuss the scientific lessons learnt during the recent global pandemic to address the research needs for unknown agents that could cause future pandemics. This continued collaboration and open discussion will allow identifying such potential agents promptly, organising a fast response, and preparing to a pandemic by filling the gaps in the research field.

Prof. Laura Lechuga, leader of the ICN2 NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications Group, was invited to take part in the event and share her experience with the CONVAT project, funded by the European Commission with a special call in 2020. CONVAT developed an optical nano-biosensor that enables rapid and quantitative serological testing of COVID-19, without the need for sample pre-treatment and lengthy processing.