Developing a novel vaccine against COVID-19

Divangahi, Maziar | $569,925

Quebec McGill University 2021 CIHR Project Grant

The emergence of life-threatening human respiratory viral pathogens such as SARS-Cov, MERS, and current SARS-Cov-2 present an intense challenge to clinicians who are left with no available therapeutic interventions and scientists who must rapidly develop novel therapies in the midst of a pandemic. Individuals with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-Cov-2, exhibit a range of symptoms ranging from mild cough to acute respiratory failure. While most SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals develop only mild disease, infection can be fatal in vulnerable populations, including the elderly. Although the global scientific community is working together to find treatments to stop the outbreak, there are currently no therapeutic approaches that prevent or mitigate SARS-CoV2 infection. Clearly, developing a vaccine that improves the early immune response to infection and prevents disease progression is required to end this pandemic. The goal of our studies is to establish new vaccine approaches to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection or minimize disease sequelae. Using preclinical animal models, unique clinical human samples collected from COVID‑19 patients or individuals with specific vaccination histories, we will test the efficacy of our vaccination strategies against virulent SARS-CoV-2 infection. Within this framework, we will use two major complementary approaches to enhance immunity against COVID19. Our studies will provide new insight into how we can harness the power of our immunity to improve vaccines and human health. If successful, these vaccine strategies can be rapidly deployed to the general population to bring an end to this and potentially future COVID‑19 outbreaks.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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