Network News

06 Apr 2020

School Of Public Health - Voices from the COVID-19 Frontlines

The School of Public Health (SPH) of the University of Hong Kong launches a special series called Voices from the COVID-19 Frontlines, featuring stories of its internationally renowned inhouse experts and scientists housed in HKU's School of Public Health.

Starting from April, SPH will present a series of videos featuring stories of its members. Today SPH launches the first episode featuring Professor Leo Poon, that was interviewed by the Pasteur Foundation Asia a few weeks ago.

Subscribe to the SPH Youtube Channel and stay tuned for more voices from the frontlines.

02 Apr 2020

CEPI collaborates with the Institut Pasteur in a consortium to develop COVID-19 vaccine

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will invest an initial US$4.9 million in a partnering agreement with the Institut Pasteur-led consortium that will include Themis and the University of Pittsburgh to develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19. This collaboration brings CEPI’s total investment in COVID-19 vaccine R&D to US$29.2 million.
In a first step, CEPI funding will support the preclinical testing, initial manufacture of vaccine materials, and preparatory work for phase 1 studies.
This investment is the result of a recent global call for proposals that CEPI issued in early February, which invited funding applications for proven vaccine technology that could be used to rapidly develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus, and most importantly at scale and with the necessary equitable access provisions.
The expertise of the Institut Pasteur (Paris) in emerging infectious diseases is one of the priorities of our Strategic Plan 2019-2023. As part of the COVID-19 Task Force set up in January 2020, after our isolation of the coronavirus strains detected in France, the proprietary measles vector (MV) technology was chosen to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 leveraging our extensive experience with human measles vector technology and an MV-SARS-CoV-1 candidate. We are delighted to continue our long-lasting collaboration with Themis and CEPI that has already delivered high potential vaccine candidates for Chikungunya, nearing phase 3, and Lassa fever in phase 1, both emerging infectious diseases representing a threat to global health.”
Stewart Cole, President of the Institut Pasteur. 

02 Apr 2020

Institut Pasteur: news from Paris

Stewart Cole, President of the Institut Pasteur, announced in a video message addressed to all Institut Pasteur and International Network teams, that after the great success for the Institut in the call for proposal from Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), from REACTing at Inserm (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) and from the European Commission, Pasteur scientists have now obtained 4 grants from the French National Agency for Research (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) to fight the COVID 19 pandemic, and more are to be expected.

Stewart Cole also emphasised in his message on the importance for all the Institut Pasteur collaborators to keep in touch. He announced the implementation of a « continuity plan » and new measures during the campus shutdown, reducing staff in the facilities to a strict minimum, performing jobs essential to the Institut and the fight against SARS-CoV-2.

Find out more about the latest news on Institut Pasteur and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

02 Apr 2020

Scientists at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge culture novel coronavirus from patients

Scientists from the Virology Unit at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC), have successfully cultured the virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) from an infected patient clinical samples. IPC scientists have been working diligently to culture the virus on Vero and Vero E6 cells and culture started on several samples obtained from Cambodian cases the very next day after patient diagnosis by RT-qPCR. This success will aid in global efforts in diagnosis and for development and testing of a potential vaccine and critical drugs.
We were lucky to have such a high quality samples and to be so well prepared to isolate the virus. At IPC, we strive for continual readiness and prompt reaction against potential outbreaks, not only to help ensure public health in Cambodia, but also to contribute to scientific progress in global health security and response”, stated Dr. Erik Karlsson, Senior Researcher in the Virology Unit and Director of the National Influenza Center and WHO H5 Reference Center at IPC.
“This was truly a group effort among all of the scientists and staff at IPC and we could not have done it so quickly without everyone working together as a team”, stated Dr Philippe Dussart, Head of the Virology Unit at IPC.
The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Virology Unit is acting as National Reference Laboratory for the country”, stated Dr Veasna Duong, Deputy Head of the Virology Unit at IPC.
Utilizing these isolates, IPC scientists along with collaborators can now further contribute to the fight against this virus. In addition to sharing the virus isolate freely to other researchers, IPC can now focus on collaborating on studies which understand how the virus replicates and infects people, conduct serological screening, help to develop specific treatments through antiviral testing, and contribute to vaccine candidate availability.
About Institut Pasteur du Cambodge: 
Established in 1953, IPC is a non-profit research institution of public utility engaged by convention with the Royal Government of Cambodia under the patronage of the Ministry of Health. The three main missions of IPC are: (1) to conduct high quality, advance research in health and biology; (2) to fully support public health activities in Cambodia and Southeast Asia as a whole; and, (3) to provide training and education in research and public health. IPC is a member of the Institut Pasteur International Network (IPIN), a highly coordinated network with 32 member institutes spread across the globe facilitating collaboration and scientific exchange. IPC researchers and visiting scientists frequently provide expertise to setup specific assays and collaborations globally and facilities at IPC and within the IPIN enable access state-of-the-art equipment needed for any proposed research or response.
The Virology Unit at IPC was established in 1996 and has been instrumental in public health responses in Cambodia, especially against respiratory viruses such as avian influenza. IPC serves as a reference laboratory for a number of pathogens, and programs and procedures are in place to identify, diagnose, and sequence numerous other emerging and zoonotic pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2. In response to the need for a biosafe and biosecure facility to handle dangerous and/or unknown samples during outbreaks, IPC opened Cambodia’s only BSL-3 laboratory in 2008. 

01 Apr 2020

Institut Pasteur Coronavirus Task Force

The Institut Pasteur in Paris and its International Network of 32 institutes, including HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, have been extremely active worldwide in responding with science to the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Its response currently involves 300 people at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and several teams in the network in other countries.

A coronavirus task force was set up by the Institut Pasteur in January to coordinate COVID-19 research by its teams. Sixteen research projects are now under way, and several other projects submitted to the task force are set to begin shortly

>>> Learn more about the Research Projects 

30 Mar 2020

Institut Pasteur Korea confirmed antiviral efficacy of a medicine for asthma against SARS-CoV-2

Korea is one of the countries the most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a massive surge of cases within few weeks. Since February 2020, Institut Pasteur Korea has been conducting a study, so-called “Drug Repositioning”, by screening the in-house chemical library consisting of drugs that have already been licensed or currently in clinical development to find the drugs that can be used for the treatment of COVID-19 without going through lengthy clinical trials.

Institut Pasteur Korea already demonstrated its leading role in screening and therapeutic innovation, key features of the Pasteurian model of research, placing them at the forefront to tackle this pandemic. 


Institut Pasteur Korea confirmed antiviral efficacy of “Alvesco”, a medicine for asthma, against SARS-CoV-2

The antiviral efficacy of Alvesco was identified comparable or superior to those of remdesivir, lopinavir, and chloroquine for which clinical studies are underway.

Institut Pasteur Korea reported that ciclesonide, a component of “Alvesco”(a drug for asthma), showed excellent efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in “Drug Repositioning” research.

In the research, approximately 3,000 drugs, including 1,500 US FDA approved drugs, were tested in in-vitro cell culture with an aim of identifying the drugs that are effective for COVID-19 treatment. The study was conducted as part of National Life and Safety Emergency Response Research funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).

Since February, the Institute has been conducting a study, so-called “Drug Repositioning”, by screening the in-house chemical library consisting of drugs that have already been licensed or currently in clinical development to find the drugs that can be used for the treatment of COVID-19 without going through lengthy clinical trials.

First, the Institute conducted preliminary experiments using SARS-CoV, which is similar to the SARS-CoV-2. After receiving SARS-CoV-2 virus(NCCP No. 43326) from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), researchers searched for the drugs with antiviral activity against the SARS-CoV-2. As a result, about 20 drugs including ciclesonide were discovered to exhibit antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2.

According to the research results, the identified compounds have shown similar or superior antiviral activity in cell culture experiments compared to the remdesivir, lopinavir, and chloroquine, which are currently in clinical trials at home and abroad.

In particular, ciclesonide was nominated as the most feasible drug after a comprehensive review of safety, drug efficacy, related overseas cases, and domestic availability.

The results of the study were posted* on 'bioRxiv', a preprint server, on March 21.
 * Identification of antiviral drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 from FDA-approved drugs 

>>> Read the study online 

Dr. Wang-Shick Ryu, CEO of Institut Pasteur Korea, said, “The antiviral activity of the drugs was confirmed only in the in-vitro cell culture experiments, and hopefully they could be useful for the treatment of patients after the efficacy of the drugs are also confirmed in clinical tests.” "We will continue the 'Drug Repositioning' campaign to discover additional drugs which can be more effective for COVID-19 treatment," he added.


Learn more about Institut Pasteur Korea's work on SARS-COV-2 with the following publication: 

>>> Screening of FDA-approved drugs using a MERS-CoV clinical isolate from South Korea identifies potential therapeutic options for COVID-19


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