Mount Sinai has received a $13 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to develop vaccines that can protect against many different types of coronaviruses. The 5-year grant was awarded to the Icahn School of Medicine.
The award will fund the "Programming Long-lasting Immunity to Coronaviruses" (PLUTO) project led by Viviana Simon, MD, PhD of Mount Sinai, and Ali Ellebedy, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis.
We aim to develop next-generation coronavirus vaccines with broad protection.
"Our multidisciplinary team is poised to tackle the challenges posed by coronaviruses head on," said Simon in a press release. "By pooling our expertise and resources, we aim to develop next-generation coronavirus vaccines with broad protection, thus contributing significantly to curbing the current pandemic and averting future coronavirus-related public health crises."
Team previously developed universal flu vaccine candidate
The goal of PLUTO is to develop a vaccine that will not only protect against future variants of SARS-CoV-2, but all emerging threats posed by coronaviruses. Researchers said they will use a wide array of biological samples from participants who have been vaccinated, boosted, and infected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bone marrow, blood, and fluid will be used to study coronavirus humoral immunity. A second project will design and test efficacy of viral variant-proof pan-sarbecovirus and pan-betacoronavirus vaccines.
"The assembled team has a track record of success in designing these types of broadly protective universal vaccines, bringing universal influenza vaccine candidates into clinical development. Using the same methods and strategies, we are confident that our PLUTO efforts will result in similar successes," said Ellebedy.