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Millions pour into Covid-19 research

Tuesday March 24th, 2020

The UK poured £10 million into key Covid-19 research projects yesterday, backing the search for a vaccine and ready-to-use drugs.

The money was allocated to six projects, two of them testing vaccines.

Some £2.2 million will support pre-clinical testing of a vaccine at Oxford University, where researchers have been working on the project as soon as the genetic sequencing of the new virus was completed.

A further tranche of £400,000 will support the development of bulk manufacturing processes for adenovirus-based vaccines.

A second project at Oxford, backed with £2.1 million, will support clinical trials of drugs such as lopinavir-ritonavir and low-dose corticosteroids.

Antibody therapy research at Imperial College, London, will receive another £600,000.

Professor Martin Landray, one of the investigators, said: "The streamlined design of this clinical trial allows consenting patients to be enrolled in large numbers easily and without compromising patient safety or adding significantly to the workload of busy hospitals and their staff. In this way we can rapidly assess the value of potential treatments for Covid-19 and provide reliable information on the best ways to treat patients with this disease."

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: "These studies will be critical to finding better ways to treat and manage Covid-19, which we hope will help to save lives, protect the more vulnerable, and support the development, trials and in due course the scale up of production of much-needed vaccines.

"We will continue to support new proposals for research and innovation that will help the UK and others to tackle the pandemic caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2."

Meanwhile a Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium was also launched, aimed at delivering large-scale and rapid sequencing of the virus, using regional centres and the facilities of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Professor Nick Loman, of Birmingham University, said: "An open and distributed model of sequencing involving both academia, the NHS and our public health bodies is the right way to ensure results are delivered quickly to decision-makers.

"We are now well positioned to return deep insights into understanding the rapidly-accelerating pandemic of Covid-19, easily the most pressing infectious disease emergency we have faced in two generations in the UK."

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Genetics | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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