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Coronavirus vaccine is the objective of a UAB crowdfunding campaign

Projectes de mecenatge per fer front a la COVID 19

UAB researchers propose designing a vaccine based on complexes imitating the viral particles of SARS-CoV-2. The initiative forms part of the UAB's crowdfunding programme against COVID-19, which also includes a project by the FAS to offer summer camps for children in need and an action by the UAB Open Labs to manufacture protective material for healthcare personnel.


The UAB has lauched a crowdfunding campaign to develop a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus with a methodology researchers believe has not yet been applied to any of the trials conducted in Spain.

The initiative, which is already underway, includes the experience of different research groups, centres and scientific and technical services at the UAB, and is being conducted with the collaboration of the Centres for Animal Health Research (CReSA) of the Agrofood Research and Technology Institute (IRTA) and the hospitals Parc Taulí, Germans Trias, Vall d'Hebron and Santa Creu i Sant Pau, all UAB-affiliated hospitals, which will be in charge of validating the prototype.

The project “Ajuda’ns a desenvolupar una vacuna contra el SARS-COV-2” ["Help Us Develop a Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2"] is based on the design of recombinant proteins, which form nanostructures that imitate virus-like particles (VLP). These protein complexes have no genetic information of the virus and therefore are not infectious. The goal is to generate VLPs based on fragments of the virus proteins which on their surface contain SARS-CoV-2 antigens, with the aim of inducing the generation of neutralising antibodies.

It is a different approach to classical vaccines, which are created with an inactive or diluted virus and which require high levels of biological contention when produced. The strategy proposed by these researchers is the same as that used to created the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B vaccines.

The studies of the design and selection of the proteins will be conducted by the Group of Computational Biology, directed by Dr Xavier Daura from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB-UAB). The production and purification of the VLPs selected will be conducted by the Group of Cell Engineering and Bioprocesses (GECIB) of the Department of Chenical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, led by Dr Francesc Gòdia, and by Dr Neus Ferrer from the Department of Gebetics and Microbiology, and member of the Group of Nanobiotechnology, led by Dr Antoni Villaverde and affiliated to the IBB and the CIBERN-BBN.

The validation of the vaccine with serum from patients and in cell models will be coordinated by Dr Eduard José Cunilleras from the Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery, in collaboration with doctors from the hospitals Parc Taulí, Germans Trias, Vall d'Hebron and Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

The evaluation of its efficiency and safety in animal models will be done at the biosafety level 3 facilities of the Centre for Animal Health Research (CReSA) at the IRTA, in collaboration with Dr Joaquim Segalés, researcher at the centre and lecturer of the Department of Animal Health and Anatomy at the UAB, and Dr Júlia Vergara-Alert, also researcher at CReSA.

The project includes the help of the university's scientific and technical services which give support to research, such as the Microscope Service (SM), the Proteomic and Structural Biology Services (sePBioEs) and the Culture, Antibodies and Citometric Services (SCAC), as well as the unique scientific-technical facility NANBIOSIS. The money obtained through the crowdfunding campaign will contribute to financing the project, which is estimated to cost €130,000. 

Crowdfunding Programme to Beat COVID-19

The project for the development of a coronavirus vaccine is part of the UAB crowdfunding programme recently launched to help counteract the health and social effects of COVID-19 and two other initiatives: scientific dissemination workshops for socially vulnerable children and 3D printing of protective material for hospitals and social centres.

“Summer camps and research for all children”

With this initative, the Fundació Autònoma Solidària (FAS) offers the CROMA 2.0 projects to associations located in the vicinity of the UAB which are organising summer camps. It is addressed to children aged 10 to 12 who are in risk of social exclusion and have been greatly affected by the current health crisis. The objective is to help them spend the summer enjoying different learning environments with exciting activities that can help them prepare for the next school year.

The programme offers two workshops designed by UAB research teams in which children can become researchers and solve problems while acquiring skills and knowledge in a fun way. On the one side, there is “El robot de les emocions”, designed by the Centre for Research in Science and Mathematics Education (CRECIM) and the Institute of Neuroscience (INC), on the mechanisms used by living beings to express emotions. On the other side, “Com és l’espai públic del nostre barri o ciutat?”, designed by the School of the Institute of Government and Public Policy (IGOP), to work the elements related to public spaces and focused on children's neighbourhoods. The workshops will be offered by students of the University with experience in these types of activities.

The degree of funding reached by the project (from €3,800 to €12,000) will determine the number of children who can participate in CROMA 2.0, from 200 to 700 children.

The FAS began organising the CROMA programme ten years ago, with the aim of promoting equity and equal opportunities and reinforcing processes which can create close ties with schools and foster the educational continuity of students. The 2.0 version is based on innovative methodologies and on the work of thematic projects, which encourage an interest in learning among children, while at the same time foster the acquisition of new skills.

Vallès Makers Work Against COVID-19  

The innovative UAB Open Labs have launched a campaign to continue collaborating with hospitals and social centres in the vicinity of the UAB by printing out protective material for healthcare workers.

Until now, the UAB Open Labs has printed out over 800 pieces for ventilators. Now, the objective is to print out personal protection elements, such as facial protectors, high-flow nasal cannulas, ear protections, and all the material necessary to facilitate the tasks of healthcare workers.

The project is being conducted in collaboration with other areas of production belonging to the Network of Digital Manufacturing Centres and Areas of the Vallès Occidental Comarcal Council, such as Eclyps3, FabLab Terrassa, FabLab Sant Cugat,  Lab Castellar, Nodus Tech Space and Ripolab Hacklab. All of them bring together a large number of volunteers who offer their services to help contribute to the manufacturing of materials.

The money needed to conduct this initiative is €3,000 and will be destined to acquiring material such as spools of plastic needed to manufacture the pieces, and later tranport the protective material to the hospitals and centres.

This information is related to the following SDG

  • Good health and well-being
  • Reduced inequalities