Manning Fund for COVID-19 Recipients

A recent gift of $1 million from the Manning family established The Manning Fund for COVID-19 Research, and UVA researchers were asked to submit their proposed solutions to the challenges from coronavirus in May.

Over 50 proposals were received from UVA faculty across Grounds for projects related to the pandemic. Co-managed by the Provost’s office and the Office of the Vice President for Research the fund selected eight of the applicants for funding. The projects propose to improve antibody testing, find a vaccine, and help improve patient outcomes.

Manning Fund Recipients

A COVID-19 Killed Whole Cell Genome Reduced E. coli Fusion Peptide Subunit Vaccine

This project aims to develop a vaccine that helps the body develop antibodies directed against a specific fusion peptide found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus as a component of its spike protein. The novelty of this project is the use a modified E.coli bacterial surface to display this peptide and help the body develop specific antibodies against it. When the real virus enters the body due to infection, the body can recognize this fusion peptide and neutralize the virus.

Steven Zeichner, M.D., Ph.D.
Steven Zeichner, M.D., Ph.D.
Peter Kasson
Peter Kasson, M.D., Ph.D.

Targeted Antibodies From Convalescent Plasma to Protect Against COVID-19    

Individuals vary substantially in their antibody response to COVID-19, both in amount and type of antibodies produced. This project aims to purify the serum from recovered patients and identify specific antibodies that are most potent against SARS-CoV-2 and to produce concentrated amounts of these target specific antibodies for the treatment of patients with increased potency.

Novel Reagents to Improve Testing for COVID-19 Antibodies  

The goal of this project is the development of novel testing reagents to eliminate the problem of cross-reactivity with common coronaviruses and develop a “neutralization reagent” that can be added to any serological assay and any analytic platform for antibody testing, which will eliminate signal from other non-COVID-19 antibodies and improve the accuracy of the test significantly.

James Zimring, M.D., Ph.D.
James Zimring, M.D., Ph.D.
Kenneth Brayman, MD
Kenneth Brayman, MD, CO-PI: Joel Linden, Ph.D.

Adenosine A2A Receptor Agonists in the Prevention of COVID-19 Related Lung Injury and Systemic Inflammatory Responses            

The main cause of death in COVID-19 is acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which is a type of respiratory failure characterized by rapid onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs. This project aims to test the use of Adenosine A2AR agonists to reduce the mortality associated with COVID-19. This immunotherapy is expected to be used preemptively, in the asymptomatic phase to prevent onset of COVID-19 or in the symptomatic phase, to reverse progression.

Isolation and Identification of Novel T-cell Receptors Responsive to SARS-CoV-2 for the Genetic Engineering of Third-Party T-cells for Off-the-Shelf Therapeutic Use   

This project aims to study the T-cell based immune response from patients who have been infected SARS-CoV-2 to identify viral specific T-cell receptors (TCRs) with the future goal of genetically engineering third-party, allogeneic T cells with the responsive TCR thereby producing an off-the-shelf cellular therapeutic bank for the treatment of subsequent infected patients experiencing severe symptoms. This cell therapy would be especially beneficial for immunocompromised patients infected with COVID-19.

 Daniel W. Lee, MD
Daniel W. Lee, MD and Dr. Drew Cobb, Ph.D.
Hema Kothari, Ph.D.
Hema Kothari, Ph.D.

Mass Cytometry to Identify Biomarkers for COVID-19 Severity and Response to JAK Inhibition

Cytokine storm (CS) in patients has been linked to COVID-19 disease severity. The project aims to develop a customized diagnostic biomarker assay for early identification of those at risk of a cytokine storm and improve patient outcomes by taking timely action to block cytokines.

COVID-19: Big Data and Analytics for early detection of cardiorespiratory deterioration  

This project aims to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data techniques to the problem of acute and unsuspected clinical deterioration of COVID-19 infected patients with the goal to provide continuous risk estimation of imminent deterioration using mathematical analysis of readily available clinical and monitoring data.

J. Randall Moorman, MD
J. Randall Moorman, MD
Jeffrey M. Wilson, MD
Jeffrey M. Wilson, MD

IgG to SARS-CoV-2 With ImmunoCAP   

This project aims to develop a novel assay to measure antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 which takes advantage of the ImmunoCAP platform and produce a quantitative readout of how much IgG is present instead of just a yes or a no common in current commercial systems. This has implications in developing an understanding of the likely attachment sites of the virus and accelerating the development of effective vaccines.