Retrovirology and Clinical Studies (GREC)


Principal Investigator: Javier Martínez-Picado


The current scientific interests of our group focus on characterising the immuno-virological mechanisms of viral pathogenesis in human diseases, including HIV-1, Ebola virus, arenaviruses and, more recently, SARS-CoV-2. Our programme has a translational character with the aim of investigating potential new viral therapeutic strategies through basic and applied research. We work closely with other IrsiCaixa research groups and with national and international biomedical institutes, focusing on three priority areas in HIV research:

1) Understanding viral persistence to tackle HIV cure strategies. We evaluate the persistence of replication in the presence of effective antiretroviral treatment, study the location of viral reservoirs and their consequences, and work on clinical studies focused on the development of therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing these reservoirs and achieving drug-free immune control of HIV. Our group co-leads the first consortium of allogeneic stem cell transplantation in HIV patients (IciStem), a project that has resulted in the second and third case in the history of HIV remission in the absence of antiretroviral treatment.

2) Extreme phenotypes of HIV infection (rapid progressors, exceptional natural controllers, viremic non-progressors, exposed uninfected, and pediatric populations). We evaluate the immune-virological features involved in these profiles that may contribute to the understanding of the pathogenesis of the infection and their application in new therapeutic, diagnostic and personalised patient follow-up strategies.

3) Dendritic cell-mediated HIV pathogenesis. We base our work on our discovery of the recognition axis between viral gangliosides and their receptor CD169/Siglec-1, as well as its role in viral spread and the design of therapeutic strategies that can take advantage of this mechanism. This research has been explored in the context of HIV-1, Ebola/Marburg virus, Lassa virus and SARS-CoV-2.

4) SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. We collaborate in projects that include the interaction between the virus and the host through immuno-genomic studies of cases of severe disease, the capacity of exosomes to transport viral antigens, the use of CRISPR to identify potential cellular factors relevant to virus replication, the development of lung/brain organoid models and endothelial organ-on-a-chips to study potential antiviral and anti-inflammatory therapies, and the long-term effects of the disease in paediatric patients. 

Keywords: prevention, eradication and functional cure, new treatments and resistance to antiretrovirals, immunopathogenesis
Principal Investigator

Javier Martínez-Picado



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Irsi Caixa

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