University of São Paulo: Pasteur-USP Scientific Platform integrates international network of virus studies

The Pasteur-USP Scientific Platform (SPPU) is the first Brazilian institution to integrate the Global Virus Network (GVN) , a collaborative network in research on viruses that is present in 36 countries, with 67 affiliated centers of excellence. Officialized in January, the affiliation will leverage SPPU’s research, as it will provide greater interaction between the world’s leading virologists and increase funding opportunities.

Founded in 2011, GVN promotes collaboration through conferences, training, courses, lectures and regular seminars among affiliates. Working groups, called task forces, are coordinated to identify and mitigate the effects of various viruses that are or could become pandemics. In addition to producing knowledge, these groups develop collaborative work and new partnerships that can lead more quickly to new treatments, drugs or vaccines.

For GVN, the partnership is strategic, considering that until then the network only operated in three countries in South America: Peru, Argentina and Colombia. “We are very happy with the partnership. And they also because Brazil has a prominent role in all of Latin America, not only because of its size, but because of its diversity and the quality of the research”, says the professor at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICB) at USP, Luís Carlos de Souza Ferreira, SPPU coordinator at the University. “This trust will bring many benefits. One of them will be the opening for new financing, because GVN has an action arm that involves partnerships with international development agencies and groups linked to various governments”, he adds.

Immediately, the SPPU will integrate the task force to combat sars-cov-2 and its variants. In addition to integrating, over time, research groups on viruses that are endemic in Brazil, such as zika, chikungunya, HIV and dengue. “It is obvious that at the moment the focus is the coronavirus, but we have all these actions in our scope”, highlights Ferreira. “In particular, our role in the fight against the Zika virus will be very important, because one of GVN’s priorities is to work with emerging diseases that lead to brain damage. This virus is already being studied in Brazil in an emphatic way and has been one of SPPU’s priorities since it generated an outbreak in 2016”, details Paola Minoprio, coordinator of the platform for the Pasteur Institute.

In addition to inserting SPPU into new research groups, participation in national and international networks tends to accelerate studies that are already underway. “We will count on the complementarity of other researchers and, thus, our projects will gain access to data from a large number of patients affected by viral diseases around the world”, says Paola.

Affiliation to GVN will be SPPU’s second participation in networks of excellence, considering that it is already part of the Pasteur Network formed by the Pasteur Institute, in France, with more than 33 institutes on five continents.