A NEW Coronavirus drug screening and resistance hub project has received £2.5m in funding to establish a “national resource.”
CRUSH (Covid-19 Drug Screening and Resistance Hub) received the large sum of money from self-funded medical research charity LifeArc with additional funding coming from the Medical Research Council.
The new hub will be based at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR).
CVR CRUSH will be delivered by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with partners LifeArc and the University of Dundee Drug Discovery Unit.
The hub will initially be dedicated to supporting and accelerating vital COVID-19 antiviral innovation drug translation.
CVR CRUSH aims to help support the global scientific effort against coronavirus by providing a fully integrated hub for pre-clinical drug screening and resistance assays for SARS-CoV-2.
The hub will also provide the same services for other dangerous and deadly viruses in high containment facilities.
Work in the CVR facility will include studies to investigate promising drug candidates for COVID-19 treatment, alongside the integration of drug screening with the early identification of any possible drug and immune-resistant virus variants to accelerate the investigation process.
Professor Massimo Palmarini, Director of the CVR, said: “The establishment of CRUSH is an exciting development for the CVR and we are delighted to be partnering with LifeArc on this initiative.
“Whilst CRUSH activities will initially focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, the CVR and the CRUSH facility are well positioned to rapidly respond to future viral outbreaks, delivering innovation to address public health crises caused by high consequence viruses.
“We look forward to working with academic and industry partners to develop CRUSH as a national facility.”
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing £213m to expand and upgrade existing research infrastructure to help UK researchers tackle major challenges such as COVID-19 research and recovery.
Michael Dalrymple, Executive Director Diagnostics and Science Foresight at LifeArc, said: “Our work has become more pressing during the current pandemic. We have now allocated more than £22 million to the search for new medicines and diagnostics to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, and this project is the latest example of that commitment.
“Our partnership with the CVR to establish CRUSH will provide the virology research community in the UK with much needed infrastructure and facilities to progress essential research for Covid-19 drug development, other anti-viral therapies and diagnostics, towards patients.”
Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, said the battle against the virus requires world class facilities and scientists.
Ms Watt said: “The fight against COVID-19 requires world class scientists and world class labs.
“Scottish universities are some of the world’s best and their scientists are doing sterling work to research, understand and find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This funding recognizes the importance of their research and will enable them to continue working for the good not just of the UK, but of the world.”