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Final round of COVID-19 seed funding

Ohio State’s Office of Research announced details of the final round of funding to boost research in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. New research includes vaccine programs, mental health and history lessons.

Abhay Satoskar, professor and vice chair of research for the Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Pathology, is leading an effort to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 with a delivery platform designed to induce a robust immune response and provide longer immunity.

“Such a vaccine will have a significant, far-reaching impact on global health by preventing and reducing morbidity and mortality not only due to leishmaniasis but also due to SARS-CoV-2 throughout the African, Asian and South American continents,” said Satoskar.

In essence, this vaccine could overcome barriers that global health leaders have identified as the pandemic moves into developing nations.

“A multi-pathogen vaccine will be more affordable and more easily deployed with a better community acceptance in resource-poor countries,” Satoskar said.

Satoskar and his team have been researching the prevention and treatment of leishmaniasis for more than a decade. This new research will engineer the live, weakened leishmaniasis vaccine the team has developed to produce a SARS-CoV-2 protein that triggers the body’s immune system against the virus. Phase I clinical trials for the leishmaniasis vaccine begin in 2021-2022.

The Office of Research granted the multi-pathogen vaccine project $26,500 this month as part of its COVID-19 seed fund. Satoskar’s team will be pursuing international grants and other funding sources for this work.

Purnima Dubey, associate professor in the College of Medicine, will be testing whether a vaccine using a specific region of a SARS-CoV2 protein as the antigen can provoke an immune response in the body.

Overall, through three rounds of funding, 24 projects were awarded over $770,000 from the Office of Research. Morley O. Stone, senior vice president for research, said the university’s multidisciplinary approach positions Ohio State to provide innovative solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.