Sep 17, 2021

Plant Molecular Pharming to defeat COVID-19

PepMV particles
PepMV particles

Dear supporters,

First of all, we really hope that you continue to be safe and healthy. Once again, we want to express our gratitude for your generous contributions and share with you how your donations are contributing to ending this terrible pandemic we are all suffering.

We would like to remind you that from time to time Ford Fund is doubling the amount of each of your donations. Thus, if you give e.g. 15€, Ford Fund is adding another 15€. Therefore, we receive 30€ in total! And for that reason, we also double our gratitude both to you and Ford!

Do you think we can face COVID-19 pandemic by doing research in Plant Molecular Biology? The answer is: “Yes, indeed!”

Plant Molecular Pharming is a growing area of research to manufacture drugs or modern medicines at a global scale and most interestingly providing medicines and vaccines to less developed countries where the access is limited. We are all facing a global pandemic and we have to find solutions in every country. The production of biopharmaceutical proteins in plants have many advantages with respect to other approaches: i) they can be produced easily and cheaply; ii) the drug purification processes are simpler; iii) it does not require highly specialized technicians and iv) large amounts of compounds can be produced in a short period of time (weeks or a few months).

One recent successful example is the experimental anti-Ebola drug ZMapp produced in an unusual way: in tobacco plants. ZMapp consists of an antibody that has been used to treat Ebola patients.

You have further information on this initiative here:

From Apadrina la Ciencia we also want to support this type of research and, thanks to your kind generosity, 5.000 € donation has been sent to a research group working in Molecular Pharming. The laboratory is led by the virologist Dr. Miguel Aranda at the institute CEBAS-CSIC, located in Murcia, Spain. They plan to produce large amounts of two SARS-CoV-2 proteins (N and S proteins) from Pepino Mosaic Virus genome. By means of this plant virus biotechnology technique, SARS-CoV-2 proteins could be used as vaccines or to produce serology tests. Moreover, the production of N protein provides an alternative to the standard tests based on the Spike (S) protein and makes it possible to differentiate between vaccinated and infected persons since most of the vaccines are based on S protein.

By donating your money to Apadrina la Ciencia, you are contributing to projects that help handle the COVID-19 pandemic and to understand the Science behind the SARS-CoV-2 and the pandemic.

Please, help us spread the word further, among family, friends, colleagues…

Thank you all again for your support!

Sep 8, 2021

Broadcasting COVID knowledge on the radio

Dear supporters,

Hope you all had a good summer and an exciting starting of the academic year.

In this report, we wish to share with you the most interesting outreach activities that have been performed in the past months with your help. We also express our enormous gratitude for your donations in these difficult times, your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Through a collaborative agreement with Antonio G. Armas (, director of the radio program “Rare Diseases” in Libertad FM, several scientists and volunteers from our non-profit association Sponsor Science (Apadrina la Ciencia; have helped us to share with the non-specialized public the experimental approach and conclusions that were obtained during their research on COVID-19. We had the privilege of having in the program two top level coronavirus experts like Dr. Sonia Zúñiga and Dr. Isabel Sola. They both are very experienced virologists with 20-year experience on the design and generation of coronavirus vaccines. Another invited speaker has been the pandemic expert Dr. Amelia Nieto, who has characterized the molecular mechanisms of virus replication for more than 30 years. Such fantastic female role models for girls!!!

The program is broadcasted every Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., and we participate on it the last Thursday of each month. The program includes two 30-minute interviews and, in line with Apadrina la Ciencia mission, our contribution to this radio program has not been restricted to increase the general knowledge about COVID-19-related issues, but also to communicate updated and rigorous scientific news about other relevant subjects such as Alzheimer disease (Dr. Miguel Medina;) or gene therapy (Dr. Ruben Hernandez Alcobea).

And great news to end this message!!!!! Our collaboration in the radio program “Rare Diseases” has contributed to the program being chosen by a professional jury followed by popular voting, as the winner of the award Referentes 2020 in radio category. Congratulations to Antonio, the program director.


Thanks again for your great support to our cause.


Have a nice autumn, and continue to be healthy


May 19, 2021

Testing antivirals to defeat SARS-CoV-2

Testing antivirals at the biosafety laboratory
Testing antivirals at the biosafety laboratory

Dear supporters,

First of all, we really hope that you continue to be safe and healthy.

In this fourth report, we wanted to express once more our gratitude for your generous contributions.

We also wanted to share with you how your donations are being spent. We have recently sent a new 5000€ donation to a laboratory working on the development of new antiviral compounds against SARS-CoV-2. As you are probably aware, despite the success of Covid-19 vaccines, we are still lacking efficient antivirals able to eliminate the virus in infected patients. This kind of antivirals are urgently needed because it will still take some time before the majority of the population is vaccinated, especially in less favored areas of the world. Treatment of Covid patients with antivirals could save many lives.

The laboratory that will receive the donation is led by the virologists Dr. Cristian Smerdou and Dr. Gloria Gonzalez-Aseguinolaza at the Center for Applied Medicine (CIMA) of the University of Navarra, located in Pamplona, Spain. They were able to isolate the virus from a patient at the beginning of the pandemic and have been testing the antiviral effect of many different drugs against SARS-CoV-2. Many of the drugs that they are testing are used in the clinic for other indications, like cancer, and if they also show antiviral activity, they could be easily tried in Covid-19 patients, since they are already approved for human use. Scientists working in this project have often diverted their time from other projects and have faced difficulties to acquire all the material needed for their research, like reagents used in the infectivity assays or in PCR analysis of samples generated in the lab, as well as safety protection equipment needed to work with the virus in a especial high safety laboratory.

These materials and reagents can be bought thanks to your donations, so your help is been greatly appreciated. With every 10 € donation, the researchers can analyze one laboratory sample to determine whether a certain antiviral compound has been able to inhibit viral infection in cells. But each compound has to be tested at many different concentrations in different cell lines, making the number of samples for these studies very high.

As Dr. Smerdou explains “Our group at Cima Universidad de Navarra has already tested dozens of compounds against SARS-CoV-2, finding some candidates that have shown promising results”. With the donation received we will be able to confirm the results obtained until now with the best candidates and to perform further analysis that could bring this therapy closer to the clinic, thus hopefully contributing to save lives.

You will find further information on this initiative (in Spanish) in the links below as well as some photos of the biosafety level 3 laboratory where they work with SARS-CoV-2.

We will let you know soon where your generosity is headed in June!

In the meantime, please help us spread the word further, among family, friends, colleagues…

By donating your money to Apadrina la Ciencia, you are contributing to projects that help handle the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain and to understand the Science behind the SARS-CoV-2 and the pandemic.

Thank you all again for your support!

See you soon!

Fully protected to work with virus and fight Covid
Fully protected to work with virus and fight Covid


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