Currently, the primary subject of our projects is Fasciola hepatica, a trematode responsible for fasciolosis, a disease with significant negative implications for livestock production in temperate regions worldwide, especially in cattle and sheep, and an emerging public health concern in endemic areas. Our scientific approach involves establishing in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models to dissect the bidirectional relationship between the parasite and specific host compartments. This enables us to identify crucial molecules in this relationship using cutting-edge -omics and genetic engineering techniques.

This knowledge can lead to a more rational selection of targets, potentially improving the effectiveness of tools developed for preventing and controlling not only fasciolosis but also other parasitic diseases. Additionally, since 2020, promising data from these models regarding F. hepatica immunomodulatory capacity have led us to study the potential involvement of this parasite’s molecules in countering the infectivity of the agent responsible for COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2


Unraveling the Anticoagulant Potential of the Helminth Parasite Fasciola hepatica (URANUS)


Funded by The Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, State Research Agency, and the European Union «NextGenerationEU»/PRTR (2023-2025)

Summary: Parasites, evolving from free-living ancestors over millions of years, have developed unique adaptations for their parasitic lifestyles, including manipulating the host coagulation system for nutritional and survival benefits. Fasciola hepatica, causing fasciolosis, deeply interacts with the host blood during its life cycle, leading to significant hemorrhage, especially during its migratory stages. While juvenile parasites ingest some blood during migration, adult F. hepatica is an obligate blood-feeder, contributing to hemorrhagic anemia and host morbidity. The project URANUS seeks to explore this interaction, potentially offering insights into early infection elimination and novel antithrombotic therapies for humans.

Fasciola hepatica: only a coordinated in line attack could beat the master of evasion (ATTILA)


Funded by The Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, State Research Agency, and the European Union «NextGenerationEU»/PRTR (2020-2024)

Summary: The ATTILA project aims to develop effective vaccines against fasciolosis in ruminants by understanding the early host-parasite relationship at the molecular and cellular level. Building on the achievements of the INTERFAS project, which created models for studying interactions between juvenile Fasciola hepatica parasites and host cells, ATTILA seeks to uncover the mechanisms and molecules that drive parasite invasion, immune response modulation, and disease development. It will utilize advanced technologies in genomics, gene editing, and immunology. The project’s ultimate goal is to design and test a multivalent candidate vaccine that elicits protective responses in ruminants during the early stages of infection.

COVID-19: anti-infectious and anti-inflammatory action of immunomodulatory molecules evolved by helminth parasites during host co-evolution, used in a safe, synthetic format (ODYSSEUS)

CSIC-COV19-104 and SGL2021-03-022

Funded by The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) (CSIC) and European Union “NextGenerationUE” (2020-2023)

Summary: SARS-CoV-2, responsible for COVID-19, induces severe respiratory illness through pulmonary hyperinflammation. Fasciola hepatica newly excysted juveniles (FhNEJ) affect host cell vesicle transport and innate immune response. This project explores if FhNEJ molecules impact SARS-CoV-2 infection in Vero cells. Pre-treatment of cells with FhNEJ-TEG significantly reduces infection by SARS-CoV-2 and pseudotyped virus particles. Treating the virus with FhNEJ-TEG prior to infection also reduces infection efficiency. Even post-entry treatment with FhNEJ-TEG hinders infection, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic agent against SARS-CoV-2 and related respiratory viruses.