In May of 2020 the Otago Medical Foundation committed funding to an urgent, fast-tracked fund specifically for COVID-19 medical research. Associate Professor James Ussher and Professor Alex McLellan have been both awarded grants.
Associate Professor James Ussher Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago
Understanding the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, the cause of COVID-19, is critical for understanding the disease and for vaccine design. In this study we will evaluate the cellular immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in patients who were confirmed to have COVID-19 and who have recovered. Blood will be collected and stimulated with fragments of different SARS-CoV-2 proteins to determine and clearly identify T cell responses. This will inform work on the design of a vaccine to combat SARS-CoV- 2.
Assoc. Prof James Ussher and his lab group 2020
Professor Alex McLellan Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago
We will develop a non-infectious and safe platform towards the therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 patients with (convalescent) serum from patients that have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. The project will develop the use of a safe (non-replicating and non-virulent) model to study the interaction of the SARS-CoV-2 with human cells. The study will form the basis for future use of convalescent sera treatment for patients. In addition, the techniques will be valuable for screening new and existing drugs that might prevent virus attachment and entry into host cells.
Professor Alex McLellan and his lab group 2020