Generating a COVID-19 vaccine using ministring DNA and virus-like particles

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis on an unprecedented scale, with over 1 million confirmed cases, spread over 200 countries. With the world at a virtual standstill, and no existing treatments, there is an enormous need for novel therapeutics and vaccines to combat COVID-19. Our group is working on a DNA vaccine strategy that exploits our proprietary miniaturized DNA vector technology, called ministring DNA (msDNA), to encode and deliver specially engineered copies of COVID-19 viral proteins.

Passive acoustic monitoring as a tool to measure spatial and temporal distribution of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and other marine mammals in the Western Canadian Arctic

The proposed research will aim on a better understanding of both temporal and spatial distribution of marine mammals in the Western Canadian Arctic, with a main focus on bowhead whales. Compared to other marine areas, the Arctic Ocean currently shows less noise disturbance due to the presence of sea ice throughout most times of the year, however reduction in sea ice caused by climate change is likely to allow for increased underwater noise.

Investigating the potential role of algal-derived astaxanthin for improved health and performance in AquAdvantage Salmon

The rapid expansion of the aquaculture industry has fueled significant advances in fish health and nutrition. One such innovation has been the development of the growth-enhanced Atlantic salmon, AquAdvantage Salmon (AAS), which was approved for commercial production and consumption in the US in 2015. AquAdvantage Salmon are raised exclusively in land-based operations using highly efficient recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) that depend on microbial communities to degrade waste and excess feed.

Targeted genetic diagnosis of microbiologically influenced corrosion

Infrastructure corrosion results in considerable annual loss to the oil and gas industry. Corrosion can occur by numerous means; a lesser-well understood cause is due to microbes living and thriving within these systems. This phenomenon is referred to as microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). In recent years, it's been subject to an increasing amount of study with the goal of developing mitigation strategies. A major knowledge gap that still thwarts effective mitigation is the specifics of the biological mechanisms that microbes employ to corrode infrastructure.

Testing Potential COVID-19 therapeutics & Development of Rapid IC test

The novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to challenge scientists to find therapeutic treatments to combat the virus and to develop rapid and reliable methods for detection of the virus. Our team aims to contribute to both of these research areas over the next two years. Several Canadian research groups have asked us to test potential antiviral agents (including small peptides, aptamers, interleukins, and photosensitive virucidal dyes) in VERO E6 cell culture infected with COVID-19.

Development of DNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine platforms

This proposal seeks to identify the most promising lead candidate for a COVID-19 vaccine that could be rapidly and inexpensively scaled-up to meet Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine needs. In collaboration with a Canadian biotech company, Entos Pharmaceuticals, we will determine the safety and efficacy of several vaccine candidates to identify the most promising candidate to move forward to clinical trials.

Standardization and validation of a point-of-care RT-qPCR test in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is the etiological agent of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting 215 countries and territories. With the number of cases increasing exponentially in many nations, molecular diagnostics have become a critical component for informing decisions related to health. However, the availability of molecular diagnostics has suffered a bottleneck.

Quantifying the Effects of Stress and Mycorrhizal Relations on the Production of Phytocannabinoids in Rhododendron dauricum and its Fungal Symbiont Albatrellus ovinus

Rhododendron dauricum produces medicinal compounds that are similar to cannabinoids (e.g. CBD). Cannabis plants are exposed to stress to increase their production of cannabinoids. The effect of stress on the production of medicinal compounds in R. dauricum is unknown. R. dauricum has a symbiotic relationship with a fungus, Albatrel/us ovinus, that produces similar medicinal compounds. The effect of A. ovinus on R. dauricum's medicinal compound concentration is unknown. This project aims to discover growing conditions to increase the yield of these compounds.

Research and Development of Urinary Metabolome-based Personalized Health Assessment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Autism and Environmental Exposure - Year One

Despite the growing interests and publications in metabolomics, there is a significant gap between what have been found through scientific studies and what have actually been applied in clinical practice and preventative healthcare. This proposed project aims to fill this gap by addressing two major causes; 1) lack of utilization in existing metabolomics data and published findings, and 2) lack of an accessible tool to collect samples for metabolomics data at home. The first issue is addressed by text mining of published studies and online databases using machine learning techniques.

Management and conservation of polar bears in Davis Strait: An integrated population modeling approach to estimating population size, growth rate and Total Allowable Harvest of a priority species in Nunavut, Canada - Year two

Estimates of population size and structure of the Davis Strait polar bear population are uncertain due, in large part, to the prohibitive costs of conducting regular aerial surveys. In recent years, Inuit have indicated that increased bear abundance has resulted in public safety concerns. In addition, Inuit believe that polar bears have negatively impacted other wildlife through increased consumption of seals, and eggs in bird colonies.

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