By Olga Aristeidou
Deeper knowledge of the coronavirus is key to defeating the pathogenic agent that continues to hold the world in its grip. In Greece, the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA) has taken various actions to analyse ways to detect the virus, understand its genesis and discover ways to exterminate it.
The BRFAA is a non-profit institute dedicated to understanding, treating and preventing human diseases through biomedical research. Established by the Academy of Athens, Greece’s highest scientific institution, the foundation provides state-of-the-art facilities for competitive biomedical research and works with more than 250 postdoctoral fellows, laboratory technicians and PhD students.
The Foundation is actively involved in diagnostic and research activities related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its activities include the following.
Carrying out thousands of diagnostic tests for Covid-19. These tests apply molecular techniques to identify the genetic material of the SARS-COV-2 virus (the virus strain that causes Covid-19) in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.
Establishing the necessary arrangements for the massive application of antibody-based probes to define previous exposure and identify highly reactive human donors within the population.
Measuring biomarkers for patients in intensive care units with severe Covid-19 for hyper-inflammatory responses to guide medical doctors to choose the appropriate therapy.
Developing a national Covid-19 biobank as a centralised resource to collect, store and disseminate biological specimens and clinical data for researchers in Greece and elsewhere. BRFAA is a founding member of the European Biobanking and BioMolecular Research Infrastructure (BBMRI-ERIC).
Setting the stage to sequence the virus that causes Covid-19 from samples taken from infected people to obtain a clearer picture of the spread, distribution and scale of the epidemic in Greece.
Investigating the dynamic interactions of the virus with human cells aiming to identify genes playing a critical role in the virus pathophysiology.
Developing models to investigate the spread of SARS-COV-2 and how it is affected by various environmental and climatological factors.
The EBRD supported the BRFAA in its first public-private partnership (PPP) project in Greece. The project seeks the construction, acquisition of equipment and facility management of a new building for the provision of specialised services in the field of personalised medicine and DNA research.
The Bank is covering the costs of technical assistance in support of this PPP project as well as the cost of preparing a fair and transparent tender in order to attract private investors. The procurement is currently ongoing and deadline for submissions on 12 May 2020.