COVID-19 Variant Supplement – Development of vaccine candidates and monoclonal antibodies to interrupt the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Kozak, Robert A | $44,460

Ontario University of Toronto 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

The novel coronavirus (Covid19) that emerged in Wuhan, China is a threat to global health. Infection causes respiratory disease that can progress to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress and even death. Often patients require hospitalization and intensive care, which increases the chance of viral spread within health care settings. Since it was first identified there have been over 69000 cases, and 1600 deaths, and the virus has spread to multiple countries. Currently, there are no vaccines or therapeutics, but these are urgently needed to bring the epidemic under control. Our proposal seeks to address these areas of need by a multifaceted approach. Specifically, the objectives of this proposal include: 1) Isolation of virus and generation of an in vitro reverse-genetics COVID‑19 system 2) Identification of neutralizing antibodies 3) Development and evaluation of candidate vaccines Additionally, the project will generate data on the safety of candidate vaccines in humans through a phase I trial. This will help determine which vaccines can be advance for further study. This will be accomplished through synergistic research between the biotechnology companies Medicago and Inovio in conjunction with several academic research laboratories. Dr. Kobinger’s group has an established track record of translational research, and has successfully brought a DNA-vaccine against MERS-CoV to phase I clinical trials 24 months after commencing the project and in less than 7 months for Zika virus. He has led multinational collaborations in the past, and has a history of promoting collaborative and transparent consortium-based research programs. This proposal will develop tools that can be shared with the world scientific community that will help further our understanding of viral pathogenesis, transmission as well as screen potential small-molecule inhibitors and antibodies. Collectively, the findings from this project have potential to contribute to global response against COVID19.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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