Virus Biotechnology Platform (VBP)

20190208 VBP

The Virus Biotechnology Platform (VBP) has been created within the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology with the aim of providing integral biotechnological solutions to health challenges caused by human and animal viruses. The research teams integrated in the platform have been developing a wide variety of biotechnological tools suitable for the study of basic aspects of viral replication and virus-host interactions. These studies are the basis of the development of vaccine candidates as well as biotechnological tools for antiviral compound discovery and characterization of their mode of action, antiviral spectrum and resistance profiles.

VBP includes highly specialized professionals in the field of molecular virology, virus biotechnology and virus structural biology who share a strong focus on providing multidisciplinary solutions for health challenges caused by both well-characterized and emerging viral infections. The mission of the VBP is to make these technologies available to collaborators within the international academic research community as well as to industry having interest in creating new virus-based biotechnological tools as well as in characterizing molecules with antiviral potential.

Technology Offered By The VBP:

  • Recombinant viral protein production and purification, used for structural studies as well as immunogens in vaccine development.
  • Recombinant infectious virus production and mutant virus characterization.
  • Cell-based antiviral compound library screening systems using fully infectious BSL2 and BSL3-level viruses.
  • Cell-based antiviral compound library screening systems using reporter virus minigenomes.
  • Antibody neutralization studies.
  • Viral vectors for immunogen overexpression.
  • Attenuated recombinant viruses as vaccine candidates.
  • Modified cell lines for the study of virus-host interactions.
  • Immunological assays for the study of host responses to virus infection.


In addition, the platform collaborates with core facilities at the CNB to provide additional resources in the study of viruses, antivirals and vaccines:

  • Integral transcriptomic and proteomic solutions for the characterization of virus-induced alterations of host cell homeostasis.
  • Structural studies by X-ray diffraction, cryo-electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy.
  • Advanced confocal microscopy and live microscopy studies (microscope pending).
  • Generation of monoclonal antibodies for the study of viruses.


CNB provides the Virus Biotechnology Platform with state-of-the-art facilities including BSL2 and BSL3 facilities that enable studies on highly pathogenic viruses:

Zika Virus

Fernando Almazán.


  • Generation of recombinant ZIKVs by reverse genetics.
  • Antiviral analysis in fully infectious virus (BSL3 facility).
  • Antibody neutralization assays.
  • Genetic resistence profiles.

 Poxvirus and Vaccines 

Mariano Esteban. 


  • Generation and characterization of vaccinia virus-based vectors.
  • Attenuated poxvirus strains for preclinical and clinical applications.
  • Production of virus stocks and virus titrations.
  • Vector pathogenicity studies.
  • Oncolytic vectors.
  • Immunogenicity studies in animal models (B and T cell responses).


Hepatitis B Virus    


Urtzi Garaigorta.


  • Antiviral compound identification and characterization.
  • shRNA-based genetic screening.
  • Antibody neutralization assays.
  • Characterization of host response to infection.


Hepatitis C and related viruses

Pablo Gastaminza.


  • Antiviral compound identification and characterization.
  • Genetic resistance profiles in fully infectious virus.
  • Antibody neutralization assays.
  • Surrogate models of entry, replication and assembly.
  • Study of host response to infection by  RNAseq and proteomics.




Influenza and other respiratory viruses

Marta L. DeDiego.


  • Virus-host interactions.
  • Host cell factors affecting virus replication and innate responses..
  • Viral genetic factors affecting innate immune responses.
  • Viral mutations affecting influenza antigenicity.
  • Virus neutralization assays.


Influenza Virus                                  

Amelia Nieto.




  • Viral pathogenesis.
  • Mouse models of infection.
  • Characterization of clinical isolates.
  • Antiviral compound evaluation and characterization.
  • Characterization of host response to infection.
  • Epigenetics of viral infection.


Infectious Bursitis Disease Virus

Francisco Rodríguez.


  • Serological and PCR-based IBDV screening and strain identification.
  • IBDV Antibody neutralization assays.
  • Expression and purification of avian cytokines.
  • Mammalian and insect expression systems for VLP production.
  • Recombinant virus production.



Dolores Rodríguez.


  • Serological and PCR-based torovirus detection. 
  • Torovirus antibody neutralization and hemagglutination inhibition assays.
  • Antiviral compound testing.
  • Mammalian protein expression systems.
  • Characterization of host response to infection.


Luis Enjuanes



Isabel Sola


  • Human CoVs: SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63.
  • Porcine CoVs: PEDV.
  • Vaccine development.
  • Virus-host interactions.
  • Identification of antiviral compounds.
  • Analysis of viral replication and growth.
  • Reverse genetics systems for CoVs.
  • Analysis of small non-coding RNAs involved in virus pathogenesis.
  • Analysis of the innate immune response to viral infection.
  • Detection of virus-specific antibodies (ELISA).
  • Virus neutralization assays.

Biosafety Officer Fernando Usera    




  • Preliminary evaluation and periodic control of biological and chemical risk.
  • Design of biosafe labs and other facilities, including BSL2 and BSL3 laboratories at CNB.
  • Handling and administration of reports and documents related to start-up procedures or legally required operating conditions.
  • Classification and signalling of risk areas and laboratories, and control of compliance with safety and health rules.
  • Cooperation in the management of medical of exposed personnel. 
  • Action in incidents, accidents and emergency situations following previously established procedures.
  • Managing the production and conditioning of biosanitary, toxic and radioactive waste at the sources, internal handling and storage until transfer to an authorised waste management facility.


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