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Feds give CSU researchers additional $3.1M for COVID vaccine development

FORT COLLINS — The National Institutes of Health has struck a development deal worth at least $3.1 million with a group of Colorado State University researchers to continue research into a COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement, the university said the funding would be used to create strains of COVID-19 for testing within the SolaVAX system. SolaVAX is a platform using ultraviolet light and a form of Vitamin B to deactivate pathogens within a blood transfusion sample. The immune system of the recipient would then develop antibodies against the virus, similar to how traditional vaccines provide immunity. The platform was used to deactivate strains of MERS, which is part of the broader coronavirus category as the virus that causes COVID-19. The contract also has add-ons that could bring the total funding amount to $18.5 million over five years if fully realized. That funding could be used to send a SolaVAX vaccine to clinical trials later. Ray Goodrich, the executive director of CSU’s Infectious Disease Research Center and the principal investigator for the project, told BizWest those add-ons are tied to certain developmental milestones. That funding is also somewhat tied to the ongoing race among the largest drug developers in the world to develop a vaccine. There are currently six vaccine candidates in Phase III clinical trials around the world, but they may have issues that prevent them from being widely deployable amongst the world’s population. “If those are successful, and we hope they are, there may be less of a need for an alternative vaccine… part of it depends on not only how successful we are and whether or not the technology is working, but also how much demand there will be for a second or third-generation of a vaccine candidate,” he said. The team previously received just under $700,000 in grants from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in June, which was matched in part with a $448,143 grant from CSU itself.   © 2020 BizWest Media LLC
Source: BizWest

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