UCAM carries out a research to treat coronavirus through the CRISPR molecular scissors

The Vice-chancellor, Estrella Núñez, and the professor of Developmental Biology of UCAM Universidad Católica de Murcia, Juan Carlos Izpisua, lead the project that is carried out in the laboratories of the Los Jerónimos Campus and of the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California, and is funded by Fundación Séneca

10 September 2020

Visita a uno de los laboratorios donde se lleva a cabo la investigación


Researchers of UCAM are working to develop an effective treatment against Covid-19 which consists in using the CRISPR molecular scissors to eliminate viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the cells of the respiratory system infected with SARS-CoV-2 and therefore improve the patients’ evolution.

This Wednesday, the member of the Regional Ministry of Employment, Research and Universities, Miguel Motas, together with the director general for Research, Isabel Fortea, the Chancellor of UCAM, Josefina García, and the Vice-Chancellor for Research of UCAM, Estrella Núñez, visited the research and cell culture laboratories of the Campus of Murcia where the research is carried out jointly with the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California.  

The member of the Regional Ministry of Employment, Research and Universities, Miguel Motas, highlighted that “there are prestigious research groups in the Region who are currently working to offer a treatment for Covid-19, and Fundación Séneca supports these researchers so that they can carry out a fundamental work for society”. For her part, the Chancellor, Josefina García, highlighted that this project is framed within a work that "provides continuity to the other works that UCAM has been developing with powerful research teams such as the study directed by Dr. Izpisua in California".

Led by the Vice-chancellor for research, Estrella Núñez, and by the Professor of developmental biology, Juan Carlos Izpisua, the researchers of UCAM are developing a system based on the use of the CRISPR molecular scissors that makes it possible to recognise, in a specific manner, the viral RNA and then cut it out. To make this machinery reach the cells of the respiratory system, nanoparticles designed for this purpose or polymers from CDs are used. The experimentation has a first phase with laboratory cells and a second phase in which concept tests are carried out on mice.  As highlighted by the Vice-Chancellor for Research, Estrella Núñez, UCAM “is going to design the vehicle with which we will try to get this molecular machinery (with designed RNA) into the lung cells so that it can carry out its action".

Ever since the beginning of the health crisis provoked by COVID-19, UCAM has shown its commitment by funding up to 24 internal research projects in different areas of knowledge in order to solve or reduce the health, economic and socio-cultural problems caused by the pandemic.