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NIAID Looks Ahead to Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of coronavirus (MERS) particles both budding and attached to the surface of infected VERO E6 cells. Credit NIAID, modified.

With multiple promising SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates now under development, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is looking ahead to potential pan-coronavirus (pan-CoV) vaccine candidates capable of providing broad protective immunity to multiple CoV strains.

NIAID today announced intentions to fund collaborative, multidisciplinary program projects (P01s) to incorporate understanding of CoV virology and immunology, immunogen design, and innovative vaccine and adjuvant platforms and technologies through Emergency Awards: Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) on Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Development Program Projects.

Each P01 award will consist of multiple research projects as well as an administrative core and any scientific cores needed to support the research projects. Each program should include research projects to:

  • Address CoV diversity and infectious potential in humans as it relates to vaccine design challenges.
  • Include innovative immunogen design and vaccine platforms/approaches to elicit potent and durable pan-CoV immunity.
  • Evaluate CoV vaccine candidates in preclinical models, incorporating detailed immunologic assessments in blood and tissues.

Drilling down further, NIAID is especially interested in program projects that accomplish the following:

  • Identification of broadly reactive B- and T-cell epitopes
  • Structural studies of CoV proteins related to designing novel, effective immunogens
  • Rational design of CoV immunogens to elicit broadly neutralizing, durable antibodies against multiple CoVs
  • Studies to understand the role of antigen-specific T-cell responses in immunity to CoVs, including strategies to induce T-cell immunity
  • Studies to identify correlates of protection against CoVs following natural infection or vaccination
  • Studies to understand vaccine-induced responses across the lifespan, including investigation of age- or sex-related effects on vaccine efficacy
  • Studies to understand the impact of previous exposure to CoVs on subsequent vaccine responses
  • Studies to identify antigen/adjuvant combinations to induce potent and broad protection against multiple CoVs
  • Development of multi-valent and next-generation vaccine platforms/strategies to provide durable immunity to multiple CoVs, and that are suitable for use in vulnerable populations
  • Iterative studies and head-to-head comparisons of candidate vaccines in relevant preclinical models are encouraged to advance the most promising vaccine candidates
  • Strategies to direct protective immune responses to relevant tissues, such as mucosal sites

Projects should have a flexible design to better respond to newly emerging understanding of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination.

The NOSI has only two receipt dates: January 11, 2021, and June 11, 2021. Learn more at Grants.gov.

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