CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, will lead a $ 1.7 million project to identify new treatments for COVID-19, including “long-COVID.”
Scientists will develop a faster and smarter way to quickly screen for existing drugs and advance those that can be used to treat COVID-19 and will aim to identify you suitable drug candidates approved by the TGA or FDA to pass. in phase 2-3 human clinical trials. during this year.
Led by researchers at CSIRO’s Australian Center for Disease Preparedness in Geelong, the project received $ 1 million in funding from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), with the remainder being provided by CSIRO.
CSIRO scientist and project leader Dr SS Vasan said that in addition to vaccines, there is an urgent need for safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 treatments that specifically target the virus.
“A great strategy for finding potential treatments for COVID-19 is to reuse drugs already approved for other diseases, but current methods of doing this are expensive, time-consuming and unsuitable,” said Dr Vasan.
“The funding from the MRFF will allow us to develop a multi-tissue drug screening tool, suitable for infections with SARS-CoV-2 and all of its variants of concern, which could help speed up drugs for phase 2-3 human clinical trials. and minimize the need for animal testing.
Scientists will use four types of clinically relevant human tissue – the lower respiratory tract, lungs, neural and heart tissue – specifically selected based on how SARS-CoV-2 infects people.
Barwon Health’s director of infectious diseases and project collaborator Professor Eugene Athan said lower respiratory and lung models are appropriate because they play a key role in severe infections.
“Nervous and heart tissue are very relevant as this disease is now known to cause neurological disorders, cardiac dysfunction and damage in some patients,” Professor Athan said.
Scientists will use new methods of systems biology (a biomedical approach to understanding the big picture) and machine learning methods to differentiate between healthy and diseased states of key human tissues, which will provide additional means. to determine if a drug is able to reliably restore tissue to a healthier state.
This initiative builds on an ongoing systems biology collaboration on the long-term impacts of COVID-19 through the Geelong Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, comprising Barwon Health, CSIRO and Deakin University.
Note to editors:
- The MRFF launched a targeted research call for one million dollars as part of its “Mission on stem cell therapies: component 5” for “facilitating the rapid implementation of existing drugs for clinical use against COVID -19 ”.
- It is part of a larger $ 18.7 million call for groundbreaking stem cell projects relating to COVID-19, Crohn’s disease, digestive diseases, epilepsy, Friedreich’s ataxia, heart failure, kidney disease and neuroblastoma.
- CSIRO’s successful proposal, called the “sySTEMs initiative”, received $ 998,355.93 in funding from the MRFF. The project aims to develop a multi-tissue panel derived from stem cells enhanced by systems biology for the rapid screening of drugs approved as potential treatments against COVID-19.
- In addition to Barwon Health, this initiative has academic collaborators from Deakin University, Monash University, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales.