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Domenico Benvenuto and his anti-Covid startup, in collaboration with Giffoni Innovation Hub

What does the young graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, Montecorvino Rovella get to do with the biggest pandemic of this century?


Domenico Benvenuto is 24 years old and he has already been working for several months on the processes that have allowed infectious diseases like Covid-19 to pass from animals to humans. That is why thanks to the help of the Giffoni Innovation Hub, the young doctor is about to set off his own startup. It is an important step that will allow him to overcome the usual obstacles of classical studies more easily. The guest of the 6th edition of the Next Generation review, Benvenuto explained what his project consists of: “I graduated in Medicine from the Bio-medico Campus in Rome and for the last 3 years I have been working on molecular surveillance and medicine molecular research. We have studied a great number of viruses, but in particular, we have been working on COVID-19 since the beginning of the epidemic. Based on the genetic code of the virus, we have reconstructed the Spike protein, which allows the virus to attach to human cells, and we studied mutations that allow it to pass from one species to another, causing infection in humans”.

Thus, a few months later, the idea to create a startup as quickly as possible appeared. But how did it happen? “The research has been at impasse for a long time” Benvenuto continued. “Over the past decades, we have relied too much on pre-existing antibiotics, which are certainly effective, but also have important side effects, while bacteria have evolved making the defense mechanisms of them useless or ineffective in many cases. The impasse in the search for new forms of antibiotics meant that these new pathogens were able to overcome the old defenses. Now it’s up to finding the new ones. It will be very important to develop new, more effective drugs with fewer side effects and, above all, in order to cope with the next epidemics better”.

Benvenuto has clear ideas: to create a successful startup that can really be supportive today, energy and new partnerships are needed.
“Together with the Giffoni Innovation Hub and Luca Tesauro, we are trying to create the necessary infrastructure to create this startup,” he says. – We have already settled in Medicon Village in Lund, which is engaged in medical research and has been working with the Hub for many years as a potential partner, so next month we will be in Sweden to understand how we can unite forces and create a local base to start research”. In other words, Giffoni is a starting point, an ideal platform for the implementation of ideas that would otherwise be attributed to the canons of the past. “I believe that Giffoni’s strength lies precisely in this,” concludes Benvenuto, “in the ability to experiment freely, without delving into the consequences, and at the same time be able to dream freely without feeling conditioned by external factors. This idea was born as a game, but at the same time, we create something really important in a specific way. The Hub is a platform created specifically to help those young people who are too often overwhelmed by their own realities”.

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