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The UB licenses two patents to the firm CEERAM

May 2009

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The University of Barcelona’s Agency of Valorisation and Commercialisation of Research Results (AVCRI), has recently signed two exclusive licence agreements with the French firm CEERAM, the European Centre for Expertise and Research on Microbial Agents. Under these agreements, CEERAM will have the right to commercially exploit the two patents. The patents are the result of the work by UB researchers Dr Albert Bosch and Dr Rosa M. Pintó at the Department of Microbiology at the Faculty of Biology. Their research has aimed to overcome the difficulties currently encountered in the detection of pathogens in foodstuffs and in biological and environmental samples. The researchers have developed two new methods: one for quantifying the hepatitis A virus in foodstuffs, water, and other biological samples such as blood, and another for the detection of naked RNA viruses which consists of the addition a non-pathogenic virus to control the virus / nucleic acid extraction processes.


The detection and quantification of pathogens in foodstuffs and in biological, environmental and human samples is an essential health issue. The incidence of viruses such as the hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Europe is high enough to require sensitive and efficient methods of detection. However, the broad range of potential transmission vehicles of this virus (for example, foods such as fruit or vegetables, blood, or even the environment), adds to the difficulty of developing a detection method that can be successfully applied in all situations. The researchers at the UB’s Department of Microbiology have taken up this challenge and have managed to develop a new method for detecting HAV using real-time RT-PCR. This technique involves the extraction of the genetic material from the virus – in this case RNA – and its quantification by PCR. The advantage of the UB project is that the technique can be used in a wide variety of sample types. The test also includes the addition of a non-pathogenic virus which makes it possible to control the efficiency of extraction of the viral genetic material.

The process of extracting nucleic acid extraction is a critical point in virus quantification methods. The material is highly sensitive and is easily denatured. This means that methods that do not have a suitable control will generate a high number of false negative results. To overcome this limitation, researchers at the University of Barcelona have developed a new analytical method that includes a harmless virus (the Mengo virus) as a control of the process. This technique ensures that the quantification is valid and standardized.

After patenting both techniques, with these licence agreements the AVCRI has finished the process of the transfer of the project, and this important technological breakthrough will soon be exploited to the benefit of society. CEERAM is a French laboratory which specializes in the genetic identification of viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi, and which aims to become the European centre of reference for the prevention of biological risks. This means that CEERAM is the ideal company for marketing the UB’s two patents. The signing of these two agreements also opens up new possibilities for cooperation between UB researchers and CEERAM, which are sure to achieve important new breakthroughs in the near future.
Under these two licence agreements, CEERAM has already marketed a set of diagnostic kits using the trademark ceeramTools™

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  © Universitat de Barcelona Edition: Communication
Last update: 19.05.2009