Viral advances and scientific dissemination, 2nd Congress of Virology of the UV

The development of the Spanish vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, phagotherapy and the key role of scientific dissemination were highlighted topics of this congress which turned the Burjassot Campus into the epicentre of research in Virology during 22 and 23 February.

The director of the Coronavirus Laboratory of the National Centre of Biotechnology-CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), Luis Enjuanes , gave details on the progress of the SARS Coronavirus 2 vaccine, highlighting the importance of not only accomplishing an effective protection, but also of improving the performance of the vaccine to guarantee its competitiveness, "we are now enhancing the performances, changing the promotor... in short, doing the scale up of the vaccine", explained the virologist. Enjuanes, with more than 35 years of experience on coronavirus research, also highlighted the problematic of Long COVID and emerging solutions, such as the use of antivirals and monoclonal antibodies.

Pilar Domingo , director of the Environmental and Biomedical Virology group of the I2SysBio and cofounder of the spin-off Evolving Therapeutics, shared promising advances in the therapy with phages and highlighted positive results in treatments carried out in Spain. "We have observed that patients are capable of somewhat regaining their quality of life, improving their expectoration and their pulmonary capacity. Therefore, we are improving their lives thanks to phagotherapy" stated the UV professor.

Carlos Pedrós-Alió , co-director of the Laboratory of Analysis of Microbiome of the National Centre of Biotechnology-CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), pondered on how the understanding of the microbiome can influence the prevention and treatment of diseases, and underlined the importance of identifying genes responsible for pathogenicity.

Scientific disseminator Lucía Almagro , known on-line as @diariodeunacientifica , pointed out that in order to transmit scientific concepts in a comprehensive manner it is not necessary to simplify in excess: "Explaining pharmaceuticals, how a vaccine works or how a cancer develops can be a very technical matter, but it is important not to simplify, I try to shoulder on visual resources o every-day examples to accomplish a better comprehension", said the communicator.

Rodrigo Sánchez from the University of Alacant unveiled the secrets of pseudolisogeny as an alternative cycle of infection, while Fernando Santos , also from the same institution, delved into archaeal viruses. Raùl Ortiz , from the University of Valladolid, talked about the challenges related to respiratory viruses. Isabel Simarro , from the Complutense University of Madrid, shared her research on viral diseases of veterinary relevance. And José Antonio López , from the Autonomous University of Madrid, explored the interactions between infections and pathologies from a university neurobiology perspective.

The congress was organised entirely by students as part of their training in the Master’s Degree in Virology of the Universitat de València. Students also presented reports of great interest, showing their skills as organisers and their commitment with research.

A panel discussion in which professionals of renown shared their experiences and explored professional perspectives on research and the virology industry was carried out. The event finished with the awards to the best poster and best communicator, highlighting talent and innovation in the field of virology.