Year 2 Project

CoVaRR-Net Researchers

Louis Flamand, Université Laval, Lead of Pillar 3: Virology, and Project Lead

Stephen Barr, Western University, Pillar 3 Deputy
Jennifer Corcoran, University of Calgary, Pillar 3 Deputy
Darryl Falzarano, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), University of Saskatchewan, Pillar 3 Deputy
Denis Leclerc, Université Laval, Pillar 3 Deputy
Silvia Vidal, McGill University, Pillar 3 Deputy

Lay Summary

SARS-CoV-2 variants continue to emerge and the threat of new waves of infection triggered by new variants remains a reality and concern in Canada and globally. While currently available vaccines are effective and have saved many lives, their effectiveness against new variants is slowly diminishing. Our priority projects are based on the urgent need to better understand how variants differ in their capacity to cause severe disease and for more broadly effective vaccines. During Year 2, we aim to identify the viral determinants of variants associated with severe disease and develop vaccine candidates that offer enhanced protection. More precisely, we will work to:

  • Determine which genes/mutations are associated with severe disease. This research will establish a platform for rapidly identifying key determinants of severe disease in new variants that are emerging or will emerge in the future.
  • Develop and test a nanoparticle, engineered to express the highly conserved nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2, in animal models. This is to assess whether a nucleocapsid-based vaccine would provide enhanced protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
  • Produce and test a vaccine composed of the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid and spike antigens to broaden the protection against all variants.

This work will provide a better understanding of which genes/mutations are responsible for the severity of disease and allow for more rapid pre-assessment of the pathogenic capability of new emerging viruses in the future. It will also assess and validate the effectiveness of new vaccine candidates and vaccination strategies that use nucleocapsid-based vaccines alone, or in combination with current vaccines, to broaden protection against all SARS-CoV-2 variants.


$625,000 cash contribution