"The fight between humanity and viruses is eternal," declared Maria Neira, the Director of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization, in the preface of the book 'Viral'. There is no doubt that viruses have infiltrated our lives and we are still learning to live with them. The recent appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 has shown the urgent need for novel tools in terms of pathogen detection, because despite all the previous scientific and technological advances, we were not prepared for such a pandemic.
That's why META has teamed up in ECLIPSE, a project coordinated by the University of Bologna and other eight partners, in order to design and develop a nanobiotechnological platform that could manage the problem of cost, simplicity, reliability, and sensitivity of the pathogen detection. For this reason, ECLIPSE is expected to represent a breakthrough advancement in the fight against communicable diseases.
How is this possible?
ECLIPSE will be a particular combination of three interdisciplinary elements, such as electrochemiluminescence, signal amplification, and the use of recognition elements. In this way, this technology doesn't intend just to detect illnesses like SARS-CoV-2, but others like the Leishmania protozoan parasite which causes Leishmaniasis, and the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium, which can cause several lung infections, too. In fact, the platform is also designed to be applied to many other infectious agents, making it a technology that is "ready for the next pandemic". Another advantage of ECLIPSE is the detection process. It will be faster than PCR-techniques thanks to a portable device, as the overall waiting time will be around 30 minutes.
Through the ECLIPSE project the research industry is being strengthen and empowered by what could become a game-changer in European countries, as it is expected to be a cornerstone for fast, cheap, selective, and ultrasensitive tracking of infections that affect millions of people every year.
The project has a duration of 42 months and has been coordinated by the University of Bologna while META is the exploitation partner. Other members have also joined forces: Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, University of Messina, University of Milan, Personal Genomics SRL, Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), Meta Group SRL.