The current state of flux from the novel coronavirus strain has resulted in a wave of combined national and EU funding being channelled towards R&D-performing companies, research institutes and universities who are generating tremendous innovative results at lightning speed. Last Friday 15, our multilateral call for solutions for COVID-19 echo period closed with 65 applications, with 12 countries involved. A second call launched the same day. But while plans to fund projects are highly reported on, I want to tell you more about the successes that have already come about from Eureka-backed companies who are flexibly redirecting their R&D in response to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
A retargeted attack
An example of this agility is Spanish biopharmaceutical SME Oryzon Genomics, which is beginning the second phase of a clinical trial of an anti-inflammatory drug - Vafidemstat, that could be administered to critically-ill COVID-19 patients.
There is an immediate need to prevent COVID-19 patients from progressing to acute respiratory disease, but the road to discovering a new drug can take years. Fortunately, researchers at Oryzon Genomics have appropriated a compound that was initially intended to fight non-infectious diseases; thereby fast-tracking a solution that could save thousands of lives.
Vafidemstat was tested in the Eurostars project ORY-2001 and its safety has already been verified. Going into the next phase of the clinical trials will allow 40 COVID-19 patients in Barcelona hospitals to trial the drug, which could then be administered to increasing numbers of patients at risk of developing acute respiratory disease.
It is speculated that COVID-19 will continue to affect the world until an effective vaccine is produced. So Danish companies ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies and AdaptVac are channelling their R&D expertise into developing the best candidate vaccine for establishing long-lasting mass immunity and tackling the rapid spread of the virus.
Eureka’s bottom-up approach allows companies like these to adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances. In a period of exceptional isolation, Eureka-backed organisations are still collaborating internationally to discover innovative solutions.
Remember to keep an eye on our call for projects page or better still, your national funding body’s website, to see what publicly-funded calls for R&D projects are available in your country.
As confinement measures tentatively relax across Europe, some of us are gradually returning at times to the office, but with much work continuing remotely. Again, I want to thank every Eureka colleague for their personal and unwavering commitment, and every one of you for your continuing efforts to improve our everyday lives with your innovative endeavours.
We will always have more to achieve, but we, Eureka, are absolutely committed to supporting you on your R&D&I journey every step of the way.
Above all, we wish you all the best in health, strength and resilience.
Head of the Eureka Secretariat
This article was first published on 18 May by Eureka.