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Costa Rican pharmacist awarded for epidemic-fighting research

November 30, 2018

The world may be better prepared for a deadly epidemic thanks to the research of a Costa Rican.

Pharmacist Erick Bermúdez Méndez, a graduate of the University of Costa Rica, developed complexes of nanoantibodies capable of neutralizing harmful viruses. The research could diminish the time it takes to find treatments for dangerous outbreaks.

Bermúdez received the “Virology Goldbach MSc” award last month at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands for his thesis titled “Development of neutralizing nanobody complexes using bacterial superglues.” The prize is given biennially to a student that has written an excellent MSc thesis, according to the university.

“The result of the study serves as proof-of-concept to demonstrate that the platform based on nanoantibody complexes, with the use of bacterial superglues, is feasible,” Bermúdez said through a UCR statement.

“Normally, studying and developing a vaccine or therapy against a new infectious agent takes a lot of time. Therefore, one of the main objectives was to establish a new route to generate medicines.”

Bermúdez earned his Master’s degree at Wageningen University & Research thanks to a grant funded by both the UCR and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications.

The 29-year-old’s research came under the mentorship of Dr. Jeroen Kortekaas and Dr. Paul Wichgers Schreur.

“I was very happy that Erick received this recognition,” Kortekaas said. “He is an extremely talented scientist, who not only has great skills in the laboratory, but also a high capacity to communicate the results of his work orally and in writing.”


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