On-going Coronavirus related research at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

COVID-19 has had significant impact on research conducted at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Oulu. Our researchers and research groups have made marked efforts aiming to find solutions relating to pandemic issues, also in close collaboration with other research institutions.  The below listed research topics and funded projects are examples of the latest state-of-the art research ongoing at FBMM relating to Covid-19.

The team led by Professor Lari Lehtiö develops molecules that inhibit a SARS-CoV-2 macrodomain.  The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 also known as Corona, uses its macrodomain to counteract cellular defense mechanisms. Inhibiting this protein will prevent the virus multiplying itself inside the host cell and hence enable development of a medication to combat the virus.

Associate Professor Zhi Jane Chen’s team analyses immune responses in the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in an Academy of Finland funded project “Deep Immune cell characterization combined with cytokine profiling to identify a sub-population of immune cells would be predictive of poor response to SARS-CoV-2 infection”. This will provide essential information for precision treatment and determine strategies for vaccine development.

Professor Seppo Vainio in collaboration with Tapio Fabritius (University of Oulu), Leena Hakalahti (VTT) and Marja Nissinen (OAMK) has initiated a partly ERDF funded project “PrintoDiSe” aiming at novel early stage diagnostics, vaccination and anti-viral therapies against SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Florence Naillatin collaboration with Henrikki Liimatainen and Seppo Vainio (University of Oulu) and VTT, are working on a genetic test for early detection of the coronavirus infection. Today, better diagnostic tests are needed on the market for early detection. Towards such strategy, a state and ERDF funded novel genetic test “CoronaRpTest” will be developed based on nucleic acid detection using respiratory secretion samples. Such a test will be highly sensitive, reproducible and easy to use because it does not require any sample preparation beforehand. Providing mass testing is one of our targets and based on the characteristics of this test we should deliver the results within few hours. Such a rapid diagnostic test will open a new door to any other diagnostic tests for viral and bacterial infections.

Dr. Sergey Vaynshteyn´s and Co-PI Professor Aki Manninen´s study “Deactivation of lethal micro-organisms by UV light” aims to produce a safe, low-cost and scalable UV-technology based device to keep various objects and breathable air free from viral and other biological pathogens. The technology developed in this Business Finland Co-creation project will allow generation of novel disinfection tools that can be safely used to hinder spread of pandemic viruses such as SARS-CoV2.

The rapid outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infection to pandemic has urged to the rapid development of new diagnostic solutions. According to M.D., Ph.D. (hc.) Jouko Haapalahti (CEO JouZeNet Consulting Ltd), in 2020 already over 300 new diagnostic products or methods have been approved for COVID-19 emergency use. Testing of approximately 300 million people is going to boost the global diagnostic industry by ~20 billion US dollar this year.  Still there is an urgent need for more rapid, easy and cost-effective tests, as well as for less-invasive sampling, says Haapalahti.

The on-going research efforts of FBMM respond in many ways to the needs of next-generation COVID-19 testing. In collaboration with other research institutions and industry in the Oulu area there are unique opportunities to combine the know-how of molecular and immunological methods to the printable, low-cost and cloud-connected point-of-care solutions in COVID-19 testing, says Haapalahti, an outside University member of the Faculty Board of FBMM.

 

Viimeksi päivitetty: 27.8.2020