Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB-CSIC)

National Biotechnology Centre (CNB-CSIC)

C/ Darwin nº 3, Campus de Cantoblanco 28049 Madrid

cancer, covid-19, gene editing, rare diseases, immunology, microbiology, nanoscience, AIDS / HIV, transgenics
Susana de Lucas
Communication and scientific dissemination
91 585 48 42

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SMC participants

Co-director of the Microbiome Analysis Laboratory and Research Professor

Co-director of the coronavirus group at the National Biotechnology Centre (CNB-CSIC)

Research professor at the National Biotechnology Centre (CNB-CSIC) and at the CIBERER-ISCIII


Virologist at the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC)

Researcher at the National Biotechnology Centre (CNB-CSIC)

Virologist at the National Biotechnology Centre (CNB-CSIC)

Contents related to this centre

Since mid-October, northern China has reported an increase in influenza-like illness compared to the same period in the previous three years. On 21 November, the media and the ProMED system reported outbreaks of pneumonia of undiagnosed cause in children in northern China. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is unclear whether these are related to the overall increase in respiratory infections previously reported by the Chinese authorities or are separate episodes. In a statement, the WHO has officially requested detailed information from China on this increase in respiratory illnesses and outbreaks of childhood pneumonia.


The Karolinska Institute has awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their groundbreaking discoveries, which have radically changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, and made it possible to develop vaccines at unprecedented speed during the covid-19 pandemic.


Berna Sozen's lab at Yale University has announced a new milestone in the competition to create synthetic embryos: their human pluripotent stem cells self-organise into structures that mimic embryonic development on days 9-14 after fertilisation and include extra-embryonic tissues. Their achievement is published in Nature at the same time as another similar study, that of Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, who a fortnight ago previewed her stem cell-derived human embryo model to The Guardian, sparking a controversy with Jacob Hanna, author of a preprint showing that she had achieved true synthetic embryos. 


The latest episode of competition between research groups working on the same topic, a very common situation in science, should not distract us from the actual achievement: synthetic human embryos, in the laboratory, made from stem cells, up to a post-implantation stage. Now, we must decide what status or condition we will grant to these synthetic embryos. Once again, science is leaping forward and testing the limits of the laws, posing new ethical challenges for us to solve. 


An international team has discovered a new type of molecular fossil in sedimentary rocks from the mid-Proterozoic - which spans from 2.5 billion to 542 million years ago. Protosteroids, a type of lipids found in abundance in those rocks, indicate that eukaryotes were a dominant life form in aquatic environments between 1.6 billion and 800 million years ago, the authors explain in Nature. The finding would confirm the theory of Nobel laureate Konrad Bloch, who predicted the existence of these primordial molecules. 


Chinese researchers have succeeded in developing macaque embryo-like structures from embryonic stem cells. They have also managed to implant them in the uterus of female macaque monkeys and develop a hormonal response similar to that of a gestation, although they have only survived for about a week. According to the authors, whose research is published in Cell Stem Cell, these models could be used to improve our understanding of embryonic development and to investigate the causes of some early miscarriages.



Every February 28 or 29, World Rare Disease Day is celebrated, an initiative that aims to raise awareness about rare diseases in order to improve access to diagnosis and treatment and achieve a better quality of life among those who suffer from them. Here are some frequently asked questions about the most important concepts, their current situation and the main complaints that affected individuals and families continue to have.   

Montoliu and Mojica

In January 2013, two laboratories demonstrated that CRISPR tools could be used to edit genes in human cells. Ten years later, the first patients are already benefiting from the molecular scissors to overcome incurable diseases. This week in Science, one of the pioneers of CRISPR, Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna, summarises the history of these tools, without forgetting that it all began thirty years ago with the findings of Francis Mojica in the Santa Pola salt flats.


Ischaemia-reperfusion injury is one of the causes of damage caused by diseases such as myocardial infarction. A study published in the journal Science has used base editors, a gene-editing tool derived from CRISPR, to modify a key protein in the hearts of mice. According to the authors, the intervention allowed them to recover their function after a heart attack and could potentially be used in a wide range of patients, as it does not depend on the presence of a specific mutation.


Several media outlets are reporting cases of "camel flu" or MERS-CoV at the World Cup in Qatar, including three French national team players. However, no cases have been confirmed and the news reports speak of non-specific symptoms that could be due to any other infectious condition. This coronavirus, discovered in 2012, has a high case fatality rate and before the start of the competition, the WHO had already asked fans travelling to the country to watch out for possible symptoms.