Trinity and AIB have announced a collaboration project to establish a research centre in College to “urgently accelerate” Trinity’s immunology project tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. AIB has committed €2.4 million in funding to go towards the project.
The AIB COVID-19 Research Hub has been set up within the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI). The centre will include immunologists and infectious disease clinicians from St James’ Hospital in Dublin.
It will be led by Professor Kingston Mills, director of TBSI, and Professor Aideen Long, director of Trinity Translational Medicine Institute.
AIB CEO Colin Hunt said of the new centre: “In the face of this unprecedented medical, societal and economic crisis, it is imperative that we mobilise all the resources at our disposal in a strategic way.
“We are investing in a national and international endeavour to save lives. Trinity ranks in the top 1% of research institutions globally in medicine and biological sciences and its immunologists collaborate with the best internationally,” he added.
Trinity Provost Patrick Prendergast noted that the “solution to the COVID-19 crisis will probably be found in university laboratories in the months ahead following collaboration between leading researchers across the globe”.
“Trinity is one of the world’s leading universities when it comes to research into immunology and immunity and has the research expertise to play a major role. Donations such as this are a generous, practical and timely contribution to the fight against this terrible virus,” he added.
The centre’s research is to focus on addressing the design of new drugs and vaccines to combat the virus, as well as the problem of supply and validation of the testing kits. They are also looking to develop rapid antibody testing to identify current and previous infections in healthcare workers.
Professor Kingston Mills, who is co-leading the project, said: “Our project will study, in detail the immune responses to the virus in infected and recovered patients.”
He explained: “This will provide key information for the design of vaccines and immunotherapeutic drugs for controlling the often fatal inflammation in COVID-19 patients, and will assist in developing and validating new assays for detecting antibody responses to the virus, thereby identifying those that are ‘immune’ and therefore safe to return to work.”
This project will involve scientists and immunologists working on basic and applied research and infectious disease consultants, immunologists, respiratory disease physicians and intensive care specialists working with COVID-19 patients.
Trinity have also said that the project will benefit from College’s global network of collaborations and contacts in universities such as M.I.T. in Boston, and Utrecht University in The Netherlands, and with Public Health England in the UK, so that knowledge is shared across institutions.