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Boosting the Innate Immune System to Fight SARS-CoV-2

Judith L. Campbell
Professor of Chemistry and Biology

Professor Judith Campbell is exploring how existing cancer therapeutics, which are known to have a stimulatory effect on type 1 immunity, could be repurposed to enhance the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. SARS-CoV-2 evades the innate immune system by suppressing type I immunity. Recent work in the cancer field has shown that inhibition of DNA repair has a profound stimulatory effect on type I immunity. The Campbell lab proposes to explore whether artificially stimulating type I immunity by inhibiting DNA repair pathways using known DNA2 and PARP inhibitors (PARPi) could be used to induce interferons, to limit the efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 infection. PARPi is already a clinically approved drug. Therefore, this approach can be considered as a drug repurposing proposal to fight SARS-CoV-2 with a unique mode of action (preventing progression). Since PARPis are approved compounds, all the earlier compounds made during their development are incorporated into the larger libraries by relevant companies. Such compounds are being screened for preventing infectivity by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but because of the novel mode of action proposed here, the Gates Foundation screen would not be expected to identify compounds with the activity sought here.

Philanthropic goal: $225,000
Suggested minimum gift: $1,000

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