Chemistry COVID-19 Research Fund:
Chemistry students and trained chemists are needed to help Canada and the world in response to COVID-19. Here in the department, we have Ready-To-Launch COVID-19 proposals that are seeking support. You can support these projects by donating to a general fund that helps fund graduate students working on these projects or fully funding a specific project of your choice.
Ready-To-Launch Project Proposals:
Next-Generation Molecular Diagnostics
The Algar group conducts research toward next-generation molecular diagnostics that leverage novel luminescent materials toward smartphone-based diagnostic technologies. The smartphone is combined with a small, low-cost 3D-printed accessory to enable quantitative measurements of health/disease-related biomarkers. This technology can be tailored to detect viral DNA and potentially the viruses themselves. Once validated, the use of smartphones and 3D-printing make it very rapidly scalable, including the opportunity for non-scientist citizens to contribute to scale up.
Validation of RJA100, a Novel Natural Product SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus Entry Inhibitor
The time to develop antiviral drugs for treating future waves of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infections and the next viral pandemic is now, since the drug development timeline is too long to react to an emergency pandemic. Roughly half of the best-selling drugs in the world are natural products or their derivatives. Professors Jean (Virology) and Andersen (Chemistry) have discovered the microbial natural product RJA100, a broad-spectrum nanomolar potency antiviral agent with a large therapeutic window that blocks entry of viruses into human host cells. Jean has shown it is very active against Zika and dengue viruses and its host-directed mechanism of action predicts it should be active against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. Securing the Patent rights for RJA100 and generating a strong portfolio of RJA100’s SARS-CoV-2 antiviral activity, therapeutic window, and route of production are essential first steps in the development of the promising antiviral natural product RJA100 into a clinical drug.
Testing Filters and Masks for Filtration
The Bertram group does atmospheric aerosol research and has since redirected some of their efforts towards testing filters and masks for COVID-19 filtration.
Dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) life cycle and therapeutic targets
SARS-CoV-2 infects lung cells and instruct them to make, assemble and release their progenies, which causes virus spread and inflammation of the lung (COVID-19 pneumonia). We will use a super-resolution microscope with UBC-patented technology to directly visualize the assembly and release of SARS-CoV-2. The outcome of this project will reveal potential therapeutic targets for the design of the anti-assembly/release drugs.
Innovating Against COVID-19 with LNG Studios
The Hein group is currently working on a project with LNG Studios to develop and produce PPE for frontline workers. They are currently printing 3D PRUSA face shields.
A rapidly deployable negative pressure enclosure for aerosol-generating medical procedures
Many countries are now reporting up to 10% of COVID-19 cases among front-line healthcare workers. Several common procedures for treating the most severe cases of COVID-19, such as intubation, bag-mask ventilation, and high-flow oxygen delivery are known to produce aerosols containing viral particles, increasing the risk to healthcare workers. We aim to develop an inexpensive, portable enclosure that fits over the patient's head and shoulders which effectively protects the healthcare team from viral aerosols during these procedures.
Anti-viral cellulosic films based on BC fibres
The Mehrkhodavandi group has been developing methods for modifying cellulose film with simple chemical components to generate material that can attract virus particles. These material, which can be generated from forestry products and are degradable, can be used as targeted anti-viral cleaning wipes.
Macrocyclic peptide decoys as COVID-19 or Biologic Decoys for Neutralizing COVID-19 Virus Particles in Blood:
The Perrin lab has proprietary synthetic methods in the design of highly potent decoys that can intercept the COVID virus and prevent it from entering cell. These drug-like products are expected to be non-toxic and potentially orally available. They can also be used to coat tubing and be applied in topically in creams to reduce spread on contaminated skin.
Annihilating COVID-19 genomic RNA with DNAzymes or Smart Biologic Drugs that Annihilate COVID RNA in cells:
The Perrin lab has proprietary synthetic methods to identify new DNA-based “smart drugs” that can catalyze the destruction of COVID genomic RNA and prevent its multiplication in cells.
Novel ribonucleosides for inhibiting COVID-19 polymerase or New potentially orally available small-molecule antivirals:
The Perrin lab has key expertise in the synthesis of new antiviral nucleosides that are potentially orally-available small molecules that can target COVID-19 enzymes that cause the virus to multiply.
Aminated polymers as anti-viral coatings and plastics for enhanced PPE performance
Personal protective equipment provides protection from COVID-19 by offering a physical barrier between you and infection. The surfaces of PPE can become contaminated by live virus, requiring the cleaning or disposal and frequent changing of PPE. Recent breakthroughs in the preparation of amine functionalized polymers in the Schafer lab offer a new strategy to make functional surfaces that can serve to kill the virus as an anti-viral coating that can be sprayed onto PPE surfaces. This project will explore these new materials as anti-viral coatings that can be blended as a spray-on coating to existing PPE surfaces or these functional materials will be blended with commodity polymers to make plastics with anti-viral properties.
Conjugated host defense peptides as potential treatments against COVID-19
A number of natural host defense peptides, derived from frogs, have been shown to possess antiviral properties. However, few peptides are used in clinical settings, because of short circulation times and rapid kidney clearance. Our lab has recently developed a number of strategies to minimize these effects [1-3]. We propose to develop strategies specific to COVID-19.
- Kumar et al., ACS Infect Dis. 2019 Mar 8;5(3):443-453.
Understanding viral cell fusion in SARS-CoV-2
Viral cell fusion is an important step in the replication of viruses. Recently , the CoV spike protein has been shown to play an important role in mediating fusion of the viral and host cell membranes and is hence an important target for development of treatments. We propose to characterize the fusion mechanism by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) .
- Tang et al., Antiviral Res. 2020 Apr 6:104792. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2020.104792.
Support a Selected Research Project:
Support a selected research project in the COVID-19 response at $15,000 or more. If you are interested in fully funding one of the Ready-To-Launch projects below, please email us through the “Contact Us" button below. Your contribution will go towards providing funding for the students, supplies, and other resources that contribute to the specified project of your choice.
Supporting Student Research:
Support the graduate student training in the COVID-19 response by donating to the fund in the link below. You will automatically receive a tax receipt for your donation. Your donation will help fund graduate students who are working on COVID-19 related projects.