Network News

09 Jun 2020

Neutralizing Antibodies Found In The Vast Majority Of Patients With Minor Form Of COVID-19

The immunological response of individuals who contract minor forms of SARS-CoV-2 infection is still poorly characterized. Strasbourg University Hospital and the Institut Pasteur carried out a study showing that nearly all the patients with minor forms of COVID-19 developed antibodies within two weeks of being infected.
Teams from Strasbourg University Hospital and the Institut Pasteur studied 160 volunteers, all members of hospital staff from the two sites of Strasbourg University Hospital, who were infected by SARS-CoV-2 (with a positive diagnosis after a PCR test) and developed minor forms of the illness that did not require admission to hospital.
The presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was measured using two techniques, a rapid diagnostic test and a test known as S-Flow developed by the Institut Pasteur. The neutralizing activity of the antibodies was measured with a pseudovirus neutralization assay.
The median time between when the symptoms emerged and the blood samples were taken was 24 days (between 13 and 39 days). The rapid immunodiagnostic test detected antibodies in 153 (95.6%) of the samples and the S-Flow test detected antibodies in 159 (99.4%) of the samples. Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) were detected in 79%, 92% and 98% of the samples, respectively 13-20, 21-27 and 28-41 days after the emergence of symptoms.
The study demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are present in virtually all hospital staff who previously tested positive by PCR. The neutralizing activity of the antibodies increases over time, suggesting that people are developing potentially protective immunity.
"We knew that individuals with severe forms of the illness were developing antibodies within 15 days of the start of symptoms. We now know that the same is true for those with minor forms, even if the antibody levels are likely to be lower," comments Arnaud Fontanet, one of the authors of the study and Head of the Institut Pasteur's Department of Global Health.
"Our study shows that in most cases, antibody levels are compatible with protection against new infection with SARS-CoV-2 for at least 40 days after the beginning of symptoms. The aim now is to evaluate the long-term persistence of the antibody response and its neutralizing capacity in these healthcare workers," explain Timothée Bruel, a scientist in the Institut Pasteur's Virus and Immunity Unit, and Olivier Schwartz, Head of the Unit.
"The results of this study are very encouraging for people already infected by the virus. Even after developing a mild form of COVID-19, they are capable of generating protective antibodies that are present at least 40 days after the emergence of symptoms. We now need to verify the persistence of these antibodies over time. The results are also good news for future vaccine strategies," concludes Professor Samira Fafi-Kremer, Head of the Virology Department at Strasbourg University Hospital and first author of the study.

21 May 2020

BNP Paribas Hong Kong - Thank You!

The HKU-Pasteur Research Pole wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude to BNP Paribas Hong Kong for its generous pledge to support the Pasteur Foundation Asia for research on SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the pandemic COVID-19

The HKD500,000 donation will allow PFA to fund projects at HKU-Pasteur Research Pole and the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia, where crucial work on the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and development of diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are conducted.

This contribution is a major step towards PFA’s goal to raise HKD5,000,000 to fund current research on the SARS-CoV-2 and support laboratories of the Pasteur Network inlow and middle income countries to face the enormous challenge posed by this newly emerged zoonotic virus and address risks of spill-over of other viruses from the animal reservoirs into humans.

Our efforts will be continued in the long run to overcome the pandemic and prepare a safe and secure environment for everyone. 

Donations are crucial to achieve this goal and keep Hong Kong at the forefront of biomedical research on infectious diseases.

BNP Paribas Hong Kong and HKU-Pasteur Research Pole have been in a privileged partnership that has supported research on Dengue virus, and training of young scientists at HKU-Pasteur Virology Courses.


07 May 2020

Revealing how SARS-CoV-2 hijacks human cells points to drugs with potential to fight COVID-19 and a drug that aids its infectious growth

An international effort including researchers from University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Gladstone Institutes, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Institut Pasteur (Paris) unveils promising compounds for clinical testing against COVID-19. The study, led by UCSF Quantitative Biosciences Institute Director, Nevan Krogan, PhD, reveals that some drugs may fight COVID-19 while another promotes infectivity. These results were published in Nature: A SARS-CoV-2 protein interaction map reveals targets for drug repurposing

An international team of more than 120 scientists has detailed the impact of 75 over-the-counter prescription and development-stage drug compounds on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Several of these agents show promise in blocking SARS-CoV-2 replication in laboratory experiments. One compound investigated in the research, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines, appears to have the potential to promote the growth of the virus.
The collaborative study, published in Nature on April 30, 2020, was assembled and led by Nevan Krogan, PhD, director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute at UC San Francisco and a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes. As the first hints of the pandemic emerged in January, over a matter of just a few weeks, Krogan formed a rapid-response research team of dozens of scientists and clinicians -- hailing from UCSF, Gladstone, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and Institut Pasteur in Paris -- to search for potential treatments for COVID-19.
Rather than focusing on an antiviral approach to block SARS-CoV-2, the researchers first combined biological and computational techniques to create a “blueprint” of more than 300 human proteins that the virus requires to infect human cells and to thrive and replicate in the body. They then explored the question of which drugs, both those that are currently marketed as well as those in development, might be repurposed to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection by targeting those human proteins.
The researchers emphasized that while the drugs identified in the study are promising, they have only been tested against the virus in laboratory experiments. The researchers do not advocate anyone prescribing and/or using the drugs unless human clinical trials find them to be safe and effective.

05 May 2020

Pasteur Foundation Asia - Together, We Will Overcome The SARS-CoV-2 Virus

The Pasteur Foundation Asia (PFA), charitable organization established in Hong Kong that supports crucial scientific research, teaching and public health initiatives, started a fundraising campaign to support the response against the SARS-CoV-2.

With the goal of raising HKD5,000,000, the PFA will support technology transfer and sending material in the Asia-Pacific region and where people need them most. Those funds will also help current research on the SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong at HKU-Pasteur and across the Institut Pasteur International Network as well as supporting teaching to prepare future generations of scientists. 

"We need to prepare ourselves for the long run and scientific knowledge is the answer." Roberto Bruzzone, Co-Director, HKU-Pasteur

14 Apr 2020

News From The Institut Pasteur International Network

Today, we would like to join Stewart Cole in celebrating the work done by the Institut Pasteur International Network.
International cooperation is vital if we are to overcome the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and the very nature of the Network makes perfect sense in times like these
In his internal message, Stewart Cole praised the work of the all the teams around the world, and we warmly thank him for starting with HKU-Pasteur!
Indeed, the first diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 come from the work of Malik Peiris, co-director at HKU-Pasteur, and Leo Poon, and it has been widely shared with the network.
Let’t have a look at other institutes on the globe: 
  • The screening team at Institut Pasteur Korea has identified 2 FDA approved drugs that inhibit the virus. They are now progressing towards clinical trials.
  • In Africa, we can mention the teams from Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Senegal, that have trained staff from 15 other African countries in the diagnostics of COVID-19. They were also the first on the continent to develop rapid detection kits. 
  • In Europe, colleagues from Bulgaria and from Institut Pasteur in Rome have done some promising epigenetic and immunologic work. 
“The Institut Pasteur International Network represents a wonderful example of cooperation in which the expertise, technologies and logistical capabilities of each member are made available for the benefit of all.“
Stewart Cole

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.

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