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Two Sunnybrook-led studies awarded funding through the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund

July 22, 2020


Two studies, led by Sunnybrook researchers Dr. Rob Kozak and Dr. Cari Whyne, have received funding through the second round of the Ontario government’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. The $20-million fund will support researchers working to find ways to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19. Learn more about the Sunnybrook studies below.

Development of multiple vaccine candidates for SARSCoV-2 and evaluation of safety and efficacy in animal models

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rob Kozak, clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

The project aims to evaluate the safety and long-term protection of two vaccines before advancing them to human trials. This work, being done in collaboration with groups at Laval University and the University of Guelph, will test the duration of protective vaccine immunity in animal models and investigate whether vaccinated animals that are infected with seasonal coronaviruses have adverse immunological reactions, leading to worse disease. The data generated from this proposal will help determine the optimal vaccine to advance into human efficacy trials.

Methylene blue-mediated photodisinfection for SARSCoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract

Principal Investigator: Dr. Cari Whyne, senior scientist and director of the Holland Bone and Joint Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute

Methylene blue photodisinfection (PDF) is a highly effective and safe treatment that uses the local application of a non-toxic drug/dye that is activated by light to destroy harmful pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. The project, a collaboration between co-principal investigators Dr. Cari Whyne at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Dr. Brian Wilson at University Health Network, aims to evaluate the potential of PDF to destroy SARS-CoV-2 in the upper airways. The research team will establish the best photosensitizer and light doses to kill SARS-CoV-2 virus with PDF and quantify the reduction in viral load after PDF in 100 individuals (symptomatic and asymptomatic) testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. The researchers will also work to advance technology with respect to light delivery probes that target the whole nasal airway and the mouth. As a non-toxic, low-cost, minimally invasive, rapid, repeatable and easy to use technology, PDF represents an exciting option for reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and for potentially slowing disease progression in the health care setting and beyond.

Learn more about the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund