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The Carlsberg Foundation grants DKK 25m to Semper Ardens research into Corona virus

The Carlsberg Foundation provides emergency research funding for the development of methods for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The research will provide new, important knowledge about viruses and their properties and equip the world to better cope with future viral epidemics which potentially could be the cause of even more deaths followed by social and economic disaster than what we are witnessing at the moment with the current pandemic.

The world is in the middle of a serious emergency health crisis following the spread of Corona virus and a rapidly increasing number of cases of illness and deaths worldwide related to Covid-19. For this reason, the Carlsberg Foundation has brought together a group of leading Danish researchers within proteins, vaccines, and diagnostics from the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, and State Serum Institute, which can limit or even prevent similar future pandemics.

Clearly, at least three tools are needed to get the current pandemic under control. One is better and simpler tests to diagnose patients and to be able to assess the spread of infection and thus assessing the development of herd immunity in the population. Second is anti-viral pharmaceuticals for specifically treating Covid-19. The third tool is, of course, a vaccine to prevent disease.

Urgent to prevent a similar future situation

In light of experts' assessments that another wave of the epidemic may come this fall, it is urgent to invest in targeted research to prevent us from getting into a situation as serious as the one we are in now.

“The Carlsberg Foundation has moved fast and put together a team of the very best Danish researchers within the relevant research fields to help fight the Corona virus and Covid-19 disease - both in relation to the current pandemic as well as future ones. It is now evident that we are utterly challenged in several areas regarding our knowledge about virus and its ability to spread. And that preparations that could have been done before the outbreak were not done. We would like to help prevent a similar situation from happening again. This is why we award DKK 25m to a group of the very best researchers of this country, who immediately start working to develop the necessary tools to combat both the current Covid-19 situation and future pandemics so we will be better equipped for the future”, says professor Flemming Besenbacher, chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation.

Efforts across disciplines

Several experts have long foreseen that we would one day be faced with a very serious pandemic. Very few had however imagined the enormous consequences that the pandemic now has had everywhere in the world. The global economic cycles are challenged, and the crisis threatens social interactions for billions of people. In that light, it is thought-provoking that in most people, Covid-19 infection only causes relatively mild symptoms. Thus, the situation would have been even more serious if virus had been pathogenic and even more infectious.

“The world is hit by a crisis of unprecedented dimensions so it is essential that the Carlsberg Foundation has reacted quickly. We have put together a unique consortium of Danish researchers who have been assigned to deliver a vaccine against Covid-19 in a short time, based on a promising but untested vaccine concept. The consortium will also start working on a diagnostic test and alternative treatment options based on new so-called “aptamer technologies”. With this grant, we are confident of the opportunity to play an important role in the fight against this rapidly spreading virus. Right now, I have 10 men waiting around the clock in an otherwise empty Panum, and I very much look forward to telling them that we now have research funding for this important task”, says Ali Salanti, professor at the University of Copenhagen and leader of the project.

Jørgen Kjems, professor at Aarhus University and teamleader of the project says:

“The situation with the Corona virus reminds us of the importance of research into anti-viral drugs. We must find faster and more effective ways to diagnose and treat future virus attacks and at the same time preventing infection with better vaccines. This project spans over several disciplines to solve these tasks with brand new innovative methods. Although we may be late for the current epidemic, I am certain that with this research effort, funded by the Carlsberg Foundation, we will be much stronger next time virus ravages the world”.

Michael Theisen, professor and teamleader at State Serum Institute (SSI) says:

“The fight against Corona virus requires both outstanding research ideas and strong experience in their translation into concrete and useful methods to combat Covid-19 infections and the spread of disease within the population. This requires us to collaborate across research fields and in that way bring the various necessary competencies into play. That is exactly what this grant from the Carlsberg Foundation allows us to do”.

Contact teamleader Ali Salanti at salanti@sund.ku.dk or Tel: 28757676

Contact teamleader Jørgen Kjems at kjems@inano.au.dk or Tel: 28992086

Contact teamleader Michael Theisen at mth@ssi.dk or Tel: 20888302

Contact teamleader Peter Garred at Peter.Garred@regionh.dk el. tlf. 26806606



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