30 Aug 2022

COVID-19 Health Impacts and Vaccination Schedules MRFF grants announced

Congratulations to Central Clinical School's Professor Menno van Zelm and Professor Merlin Thomas (seen left to right opposite) on their MRFF grants in the COVID-19 Health Impacts and Vaccination Schedules mission! See detail below or faculty story here.

See all 14 recipients of the MRFF COVID-19 mission in today's media release from the office of the Honourable Mark Butler, Minister for Health and Aged Care.

Pre-clinical testing of novel inhaled RNA therapies for stability, safety and effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 to demonstrate proof of concept - $500,000
Led by Professor Merlin Thomas (Department of Diabetes)

RNA therapy has recently transformed vaccine delivery.  RNA sends a message to make a viral protein that triggers a protective immune response. But RNA can also be used to change a specific message. Professor Thomas and his team use RNA to change ACE2, a lung surface protein that acts like a door for coronaviruses to enter and infect cells. "Although viruses frequently change," says Dr Thomas, "ACE2 stays the same. But we can use inhaled RNA to change ACE2 so that it protects the lungs rather than lets viruses in."  This approach is likely to be just as effective for future strains and new variants that emerge. This MRRF grant will support the pre-clinical development of this exciting new approach.

PROPHECY: Profiling immune RespOnse in Paediatric and High-risk populations to SARS-CoV-2 - $6,330,000
Led by Professor Menno van Zelm (Department of Immunology and Pathology)

The project, entitled PROPHECY: Profiling immune RespOnse in Paediatric and High-risk populations to SARS-CoV-2, includes Monash Central Clinical School and Biomedicine Discovery Institute, The Burnet Institute, The Alfred, Monash Health and the Royal Children’s Hospital, with 15 Chief Investigators and 10 Associate Investigators. The funding is for four years, and will allow Professor Van Zelm and his collaborators to further their work into immune response to COVID-19 after different types of vaccinations and how well these protect against current variants. The project will examine immune response to vaccination across humoral immunity (antibodies, B cells) and cellular immunity (T cells) in populations with specified disease or specified treatment for that disease. Most of these populations are identified as risk groups for severe disease from infection.

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