NIH spotlights trio of academic teams chasing after 'pan-coronavirus' vaccines
Having made loud and clear its call for new research on vaccines that can tackle future pandemics, the NIH is shedding light on some of the projects it’s funding.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded around $36.3 million to three academic groups that are working on developing “pan-coronavirus vaccines” — inoculations that can protect against a diverse family of coronaviruses, especially the voracious ones like SARS-CoV-2.
Among the three awards, scientists will use the funding to design and test vaccine constructs, as well as map out the full spectrum of immune responses to coronaviruses (including SARS-CoV-2 variants).
“These new awards are designed to look ahead and prepare for the next generation of coronaviruses with pandemic potential,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci said in a statement.
The NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation had put out an emergency awards notice of special interest back in November 2020 while many Covid-19 vaccines were still under development. Besides, the agency added, vaccines that can offer broad immunity against dangerous pathogens like MERS and SARS are still sorely needed.
Of the three projects awarded grants, the University of Wisconsin-Madison team will be chasing a vaccine candidate it calls PanCorVac; the group from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston will aim to discover durable pan-coronavirus immunity; and a crew out of Duke University will be testing its pan-betacoronavirus vaccine.
All comprise multidisciplinary talent and will incorporate research on “virology and immunology, immunogen design, and innovative vaccine and adjuvant platforms and technologies,” the NIH added.
The NIH expects to be handing out another batch of awards next year for the same purpose.