Newswise — August 11, 2017—BRONX, NY—The NIH has awarded Einstein researchers three grants totaling more than $12 million to protect against three deadly viruses—Ebola, Marburg and hantavirus. Research collaborations between Kartik Chandran, Ph.D., professor of microbiology & immunology and the Harold and Muriel Block Faculty Scholar in Virology, and Jonathan Lai, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry, have led to novel approaches for developing vaccines and treatments.
A five-year, $6 million grant will support the development of broadly active monoclonal antibody therapies (mAbs) against Ebola viruses. mAbs, which bind to and neutralize specific pathogens and toxins, have emerged as the most promising treatments for Ebola patients. A critical problem, however, is that three types of Ebola virus sicken and kill people, but most mAb therapies being developed are specific for just one type. Einstein researchers hope to develop one or more broadly neutralizing antibodies that work against all three types of Ebola. Drs. Chandran and Lai are co-principal investigators on the project.
The second NIH grant, for $2.9 million over four years, will further support Dr. Lai’s efforts to develop a broadly neutralizing antibody therapy for Ebola and extend that strategy to Marburg virus, a deadly filovirus that is distantly related to Ebola. Dr. Lai will also explore whether this approach works against disease-causing viruses that are not filoviruses.
The third NIH grant, for $3.2 million over five years, will support research into how hantaviruses—deadly pathogens transmitted by rodents—enter the human body. Hantaviruses cause different syndromes in different parts of the world: a highly fatal cardiopulmonary syndrome in the Americas and a less fatal, but more prevalent, hemorrhagic fever with renal complications in Europe and Asia. Hantavirus infections are not common, but human population growth and climate change are predicted to increase the size and frequency of outbreaks in coming decades. There no approved anti-hantavirus vaccines and no drugs for treating infections. Dr. Chandran is the principal investigator on the grant.
The grant numbers for the awards are R01AI132256, R01AI125462 and R01AI132633, respectively.
About Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Einstein is home to 717 M.D. students, 166 Ph.D. students, 103 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 278 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 1,900 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2016, Einstein received more than $160 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, cancer, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States through Montefiore and an affiliation network involving hospitals and medical centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Long Island. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and view us on YouTube.
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R01AI132256; R01AI125462; R01AI132633