A UPC research group and the company B. Braun investigate new inactivation strategies against SARS-CoV-2 virus through modified nanoparticles and activation of heat nanosources


Image: Andres Rodriguez Domingo

The research group Innovation in Materials and Molecular Engineering - Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies (IMEM) of the UPC will investigate, in collaboration with B. Braun, the detection, blocking and elimination of the SARS-CoV-2 virus using modified nanoparticles and activation of nanosources of heat. To carry out the research, the Joliot-Curie supercomputer at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in Paris, France will be used.

Jun 26, 2020

The research group Innovation in Materials and Molecular Engineering - Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies (IMEM) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), directed by Carlos Aleman, a professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering, will carry out the project Estudio computacional para el desarrollo de plataformas de detección hiperespectrales del SARS-CoV-2 (Computational study to develop hyperspectral detection platforms for SARS-CoV-2). The project will be led by the researcher Joan Torras, from the IMEM group, with the collaboration of Oscar Bertran, from the same group. To carry out the study, the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE), whose mission is to facilitate high-impact scientific discoveries in all disciplines for the benefit of society and to improve European competitiveness, has awarded the UPC 40 million hours of the Joliot-Curie supercomputer that is installed in the CEA in Paris, which is equivalent to 4,500 years in hours of calculation with normal computers.

During the six months of calculation, simulations will be undertaken on molecular recognition mechanisms and applications will be studied to deactivate the virus. The effect of modified nanoparticles on the molecular structure of SARS-CoV-2 will be examined in depth. In particular, the influence of an increase in local temperature will be determined through the activation of nanosources of heat. The energy is transferred when the nanoparticles are illuminated with light of a certain wavelength and heated due to the effect of surface plasmon resonance, to deactivate the virus through irradiated heat.

The research is part of a COVID-19 project promoted by B. Braun, a multinational company in the hospital sector, in collaboration with the UPC, the Institute for Health Science Research Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP) and the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC). The study is focused on designing innovative strategies to detect, block or eliminate the virus, based on physical and chemical properties of modified metal nanoparticles.