Saturday 19 June 2021

Costa Rica’s “Manhattan Project”

The first batch of equine plasma is projected to be ready by the end of July 2020.

(QCOSTARICA) Román Macaya, president of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), explained the work being carried out in Costa Rica to develop, produce and validate the therapeutic effectiveness of two drugs for the treatment of patients with Covid-19.

Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado visited Thursday, June 4, 2020, the Clodomiro Picado Institute and Declared of public and national interest the research project called «Development, Production and Clinical Evaluation of Pharmaceutical Preparations of Anti-SARS-Cov-2 Immunoglobins for the treatment of patients with COVID19. Photo: Roberto Carlos Sánchez @rosanchezphoto

The project aims to develop, produce and validate the therapeutic effectiveness of two therapeutic preparations of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus: one of human antibodies purified from the plasma of convalescent patients and the other of equine antibodies purified from the plasma of horses, immunized with viral proteins.

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According to Macaya, this Friday the third immunization of six horses is being carried out, a process that will be reviewed the following week to determine if additional immunizations should be made or if it is enough.

If so, those antibodies can be harvested, purified, and used.

“Yesterday (Thursday) we visited the Clodomiro Picado Institute with the president (Alvarado), a declaration of national interest was signed to carry out these treatments on Costa Rican soil with the advantage that if they work we will not be waiting for another country to export it,” said Macaya.

“If so, we are just over a month away from having a product, this not only has a social and health impact in the sense that it would be a treatment that occurs here, but also an economic one. It is a product that will be sued worldwide, Costa Rica will be the first place where this treatment will be applied if it works,” he said.

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CCSS President Roman Macaya and MICITT Minister Paola Vega Castillo, joined President Carlos Alvarado in the visit to the Clodomiro Picado Institute on Thursday. Foto: Roberto Carlos Sánchez @rosanchezphoto

“This is Costa Rica’s Manhattan project,” said Macaya, referring to the project that led to the development of nuclear weapons during World War II.

According to Macaya, this visit to the Picado Institute made was the day with “most optimism” generated in the three months of the pandemic.

The CCSS president highlighted that since the proposal of this initiative, great advances have been observed in the process of national development of a therapeutic option for active patients with COVID-19.

He assured that if the treatment options manage to become an effective response, Costa Rica will have used its highest scientific capacity in defense of the population against a global threat.

“These treatments are essential because we will know that the country did it on its own, based on its own capacities, on the accumulated knowledge and on the conviction that we are all included and protected by social security,” he said.

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He added that “this is one of three strategies for the development of its own therapies, created in Costa Rica, which demonstrate the country’s capacity for innovation and the great impact that alliances such as this can have between the CCSS, the Clodomiro Picado Institute and the Ministry of Health”.

The first batch of equine plasma is projected to be ready by the end of July 2020. The immunized horses have already received two injections of the viral proteins. The horses are in perfect health and their immune system is responding very well as antibodies against the virus can now be detected, the director del Institute, Dr. Alberto Alape, reported.

The Clodomiro Picado Institute of the Universidad de Costa Rica (ICP-UCR), was founded by Clodomiro Picado Twight (April 17, 1887 – May 16, 1944), also known as “Clorito Picado”, a Costa Rican scientist, born in Nicaragua, who was recognized for his research and discoveries.

He was a pioneer in the research of snakes and serpent venoms; his internationally recognized achievement is the development of various antivenins. His work on molds was a precursor to the formal discovery of penicillin.

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