Pilar Domingo Calap, Ramón y Cajal researcher at the Institute of Integrative Systems Biology (I2SysBio), a joint centre of the University of Valencia (UV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), has been awarded in the R&D&i category of the Caser Foundation on Dependence and Society 2023 awards for her project -Isolation and characterisation of new phages against multiresistant Mycobacterium abscessus as an alternative therapy to antibiotics in people with cystic fibrosis-.
Pilar Domingo, also a main researcher of the UV Biomedical and Environmental Virology group, highlighted: "The misuse of antibiotics has fostered the emergence of multi-resistant pathogenic bacteria, which constitutes a global health problem due to the lack of treatments effective. The search for alternatives has put phages, bacteria viruses, in the spotlight as biomedical tools of great interest that, due to their specificity, allow them to be personalized treatments, with few side effects and ecologically safe".
According to the researcher, the awarded project "is a step forward in the use of phage therapy in Spain, especially in a group as vulnerable to bacterial infections as people with cystic fibrosis". Research in phage therapy could provide multiple solutions in the coming years, not only to infections in humans derived from these bacteria, but also in plants, such as the case of Xylella fastidiosa, whose infection has forced the uprooting of millions of olive or almond trees, among others.
Pilar Domingo has a PhD in Biology from the University of Valencia, with an extraordinary award. She currently directs various projects based on phage therapy against multiresistant bacteria, funded with national and international calls (European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, VLC-Biomed). Another of her lines of research is the epidemiological surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, as well as the study of possible routes of indirect transmission of the coronavirus, financed by local and national agencies (Valencian Government, Health Institute, Carlos III Health Institute, CSIC, European Recovery Fund).
She recently launched the crowdfunding campaign "Adopt a Phage", in collaboration with the Spanish Cystic Fibrosis Federation , to obtain funding to study new antimicrobial therapies, and has explained her current projects in the Sciende and Beers informative project. In addition, she is also part of the Stimulating Scientific Vocations program Stimulating Scientific Vocation of the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit of the University of Valencia.
The 14 Edition of the Dependence and Society Awards aims to "encourage and recognise the work of people and entities committed to comprehensive care and improving the quality of life of people in a situation of dependency and/or with disabilities and their families, which at the same time contributes to their integration and participation in society, with special attention to the elderly". The endowment of the prizes is up to a maximum of 20,000 euros for each of the three modalities, and 126 proposals have been submitted both for R&D&i and for the modalities of Social Transformation and Entrepreneurship.
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