Who We Are
Hernando A del Portillo, ICREA Research Professor, and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, Assistant Research Professor joined the Barcelona Institute for Global health (ISGlobal) in 2007 bringing their expertise in Plasmodium vivax malaria. In november 2015, the Plasmodium vivax and Exosome Research Group (PVREX) joined IGTP through a collaborative agreement among ICREA, ISGlobal and IGTP.
The group brings their expertise in malaria and exosome research with a very strong motivation to produce translational impact. The group uses a series of molecular and cellular biology technologies combined with immunoepidemiological studies in endemic regions of vivax malaria (i) to study the biology of the parasite, (ii) to unveil mechanistic insights into anaemia and splenomegaly, and (iii) to discover new antigens for vaccinations. In addition, the group is pioneering the use of reticulocyte-derived exosomes as a new vaccine and platform against malaria. To this end, Dr. del Portillo has co-founded INNOVEX THERAPEUTICS SL, the first Spanish Spin-off devoted to the use of exosomes as new therapeutic agents and diagnostic tools. It is important to note that the Spin-off is presently located at IGTP.
Additionally, the group has implemented small-scale soluble protein production in the cell-free wheat germ system for multiplex immunological assay, in vivo imaging of malaria parasites in mouse models and organs-on-a-chip technology to advanced on their studies of the role of the spleen in malaria and other haemolytic anaemias.
Lastly, due to the lack of an in vitro culture system for vivax malaria, which has a unique tropism for reticulocytes, the group is working on immortalization of human CD34+ capable of expanding and differentiation into these young red blood cells. These research areas and technologies are therefore amenable for collaborations with groups working on extracellular vesicles, vaccines and haematological disorders at IGTP.
The research of the group is fully compatible with the possibility of creating a future horizontal Institutional project to develop vaccines against HIV, TB and malaria, together known as the "big three" and responsible for a staggering 5.6 million deaths annually.
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