Mobilizing public sector investments in vaccine R&D to address emerging viral threats

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that, first, global pandemics are significant threats to population health and material standard of living and, second, evidently not enough is being done to prevent pandemics. Future pandemics are likely if the system of pandemic preparedness is not improved. The first step to ensure we are ready for the next viral outbreak is to understand how the current system functions: who is funding this system and who is conducting the basic and applied R&D into diagnostics and vaccines? Which viruses are being targeted?

Establishment of an X-ray CT and FTIR mouse brain reference atlas

The intern will construct a 3D atlas of the mouse brain, constructed using multiple biomedical and chemical imaging techniques. The atlas will aid visualization of the 3D distribution of brain metabolites and biomolecules.. The atlas will be a powerful research and teaching resource with its multi disciplinary approach to processing and visualizing data collected at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron. Biochemical imaging of the brain’s regional composition and metabolic processes will reveal new structural and functional information.

Chemistry, manufacturing, and control (CMC) assessment of Manganescan

To design effective and patient-specific cancer therapy, sensitive detection of relapse and distant metastases by non-invasive medical imaging is essential, for which MRI offers tremendous potential due to wide availability of the equipment in clinic and avoidance of ionizing radiation. Although gadolinium-based contrast agents are the most frequently used for MRI, they are associated with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and brain deposition. Thus, less toxic manganese ions are exploited as an alternative for tumor detection using MRI.

Documenting Existing and Potential Models for Virtual Pharmacist Care in North America and Europe

The current pandemic has highlighted the need for utilizing virtual care in pharmacy practice to ensure accessibility to medication and pharmacist services while maintaining social distancing to limit the potential of contagion. As pharmacist virtual care becomes more prevalent, it is important to explore the various models that currently exist or are being developed. This project will aim to explore models of virtual pharmacy care that exists across North America and Europe.

Evaluation of PLO Micelles for Transdermal Peptide Delivery to Superficial Bone

This research aims to develop and test a transdermal delivery system for small bone healing peptide hormones. Peptides and many drug molecules do not usually penetrate the outer skin barrier, the stratum corneum, in order to treat the underlying body tissues. However, by using liposomal gel as a drug delivery medium, it is often possible to impart the transdermal delivery of several analgesic drugs, lipophilic hormones and even small peptides by using augmentative technologies.

Targeting SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) methyltransferases (nsp14 and nsp10-nsp16 complex) toward developing small molecule antiviral therapeutics - Part 2

COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to standstill with more than 55 million people infected to-date and more than 1.34 million mortality so far. It has literally brought the health care systems in many countries to the breaking point, if not beyond. The economic consequences have been devastating with millions of people out of work. We are taking a novel approach by focusing on two SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) methyltransferases that are essential for viral replication. Both enzymes (nsp14 and nsp16) are druggable.

Detoxification of oil sands process-affected water

Alberta’s oil sands tailings ponds contain approximately one billion m3of oil sands process-affected water (OSPW). This water is toxic and must be treated in order to comply with environmental regulations. In this project, Metabolik’s team will conduct two sequential field trials in small, contained environments, where they will identify, and assess the impact of the key environmental parameters such as dissolved oxygen, pH, osmolarity and temperature on the ability of the strains to degrade the toxins in tailings pond water.

Modulating HMGB1 in COVID-19-associated inflammatory response

The project addresses urgent and clinically-relevant questions related to COVID-19, which causes in some patients life-threatening respiratory distress, septic shock and organ failures. Patients in intensive care units were found to have significantly higher levels of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) than patients with milder symptoms. HMGB1 is a protein normally found in the cell nucleus that is released outside the cell under inflammatory conditions such as viral infections.

Standardization and optimization of saliva sample processing for SARS-CoV-2 detection without nucleic acid purification

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, which started in Dec. 2019, has so far not been contained due to unpreparedness and unsuccessful development of antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2. In response to this pandemic, we propose development of a diagnostic assay based on saliva samples. We will also standardize virus collection procedure and inactivation steps to reduce the turnaround time of the results. We have the required expertise of working with virology techniques, molecular biology and diagnostic assay development.

Epigenetic Regulators of Anticancer Drug Response

The effectiveness of cancer drugs depends on several factors which are governed by the genetic and ‘epigenetic’ code of cancer cells. The epigenetic code comprises those heritable modifications that bookmark DNA and DNA-associated proteins to guide the expression of genetic attributes without changing the DNA sequence. This epigenetic code is written, read, and erased by a group of proteins known as epigenetic regulators.