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COVID19: Lille’s Pasteur Institute joins the fight

15 Apr 2020 | Front page, Health Nutrition, A region on the move

In Hauts-de-France, the fight against COVID19 involves research. A team from Lille’s Pasteur Institute has been working hard to find a cure since the beginning of the crisis.

covid19, coronavirus, institut pasteur, lille, BCG, vaccine

Article updated 28 May

The Pasteur Institute is looking for volunteers to test the BCG’s effectiveness

A clinical trial is being implemented to test the BCG’s efficacy in the prevention of COVID19. To do this the Pasteur Institute is looking for at least 1,000 healthy volunteers, if possible from among medical workers (who are most exposed to the virus).

Only half of the participants will be (re)vaccinated during the trial. If significant results emerge, the BCG could be used to prevent the virus.

Launch of Clinical trial into the efficacy of BCG in the prevention of COVID-19

Lille’s Pasteur Institute has put together a sample of 1,000 participants for its study into the protection offered by the BCG against COVID-19.
Researchers want to establish if the vaccine offers reinforced immunity those exposed and thereby help them to fight the coronavirus.
The study results are expected in 6 to 12 months.

Could the BCG, which was invented at Lille’s Pasteur Institute, be effective?

Many European countries (including France) and Australia are implementing clinical trials to test how effective the BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin) is against COVID19.

The tuberculosis vaccine was developed 100 years ago at Lille’s Pasteur Institute by Calmette and Guérin.

Initially, it could reduce COVID19 symptoms and prevent its more serious forms.

“It would be wonderful if this vaccine could help alleviate the consequences of infection by SARS-CoV2, along with other treatments” stressed Professor Xavier Nassif, director general of the Pasteur Institute.

A coronavirus research unit at Lille’s Pasteur Institute

Research is in full swing at the Pasteur Institute, where a dedicated task force is seeking a cure for COVID19. A 20 strong team, which has been working on this type of virus since 2013, has been focusing on the fight against the global pandemic since the end of February. The team brings together members of several regional laboratories: CNRS, Inserm, the University of Lille, Lille University Hospital and Apteeus.

3 strategic objectives in the fight against COVID19

In order to fight this type of health crisis sustainably, the Pasteur Institute’s task force has set a 3-pronged attack line of attack:

1. Understand how COVID19 functions and find a cure
Researchers have conducted a global benchmark of all existing drugs in order to identify those which might inhibit the virus. Nearly 2,000 molecules are currently being tested (either the molecule alone or a combination of drugs) to assess their effectiveness. The researchers have used chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a baseline.
A clinical trial will be implemented in conjunction with Lille Hospital using the most successful tests. The first results from these experiments should be available shortly.

“We are able to test molecules on the virus thanks to robots in a P3 containment laboratory, which is a unique facility that allows us to observe the effects of molecules on these cells and the virus very quickly", explains Benoit Déprez, scientific director at the Pasteur Institute.

2. Develop a vaccine and define which population categories can receive this preventive vaccine

3. Continue the search for new drugs in the fight against coronavirus and anticipate the emergence of a new form of the virus

Sources: Institut Pasteur Lille, CNEWS, France 3, La Voix du Nord

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