Research mobilized against Coronavirus

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are rallying around the world to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several research teams from the University of Bordeaux are involved.

  • 30/03/2020

For several weeks now, the international scientific community has been preparing to fight the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Various calls for proposals have been launched in order to finance novel research projects, including in France through the REACTing consortium, coordinated by Inserm (REsearch and ACTion targeting emerging infectious disease), which has selected 20 projects. The French National Research Agency (ANR) has also launched a Flash call, an accelerated circuit to meet urgent research needs.

On the Bordeaux campus, researchers from the Bordeaux Population Health Research Center (BPH - Inserm and University of Bordeaux) are particularly involved in research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus:

  • the Infectious diseases in lower-income countries – IDLIC team, which has immense knowledge of viral infections such as Ebola or even HIV, is in the process of launching various projects with requests for funding, in particular in Africa (African university-affiliated hospital laboratory equipment, patient cohort studies) and therapeutic trials in France and Africa.
  • the European clinical trials platform & development (EUCLID) research platform, namely the Methodology and Clinical Trial Management Center - CMG / ANRS will provide its expertise and support in setting up and conducting clinical trials, notably within the framework of the REACTing consortium.
  • researchers from the Inserm / Inria Statistics in systems biology and translational medicine - SISTM team, dedicated to the development of statistical methods for integrative analysis of data in medicine and biology, will be able to contribute, especially in projects submitted by the Vaccine Research Institute.

Two teams from the Microbiologie Fondamentale et Pathogénicité laboratory (MFP - CNRS and University of Bordeaux), the Replication, variability and mobility of viral and bacterial genomes team and the Spatial and temporal control of virus-host interactions team, in partnership with researchers from the Bordeaux Cardio-Thoracic Research Center (CRCTB - Inserm and University of Bordeaux, Xavier Arnozan Hospital) and the BPH research center, have responded to the ANR Flash COVID-19 call by proposing a collaborative project focusing in particular on the development of new cellular models to understand the pathophysiology of the disease.

From biology to mathematics to the humanities and social sciences

Other laboratories on campus will also be involved in various research projects, for example the Institute of Chemistry and Biology of Membranes and Nano-Objects (CBMN), or the Bordeaux Institute of Mathematics (IMB - CNRS, Bordeaux INP and University of Bordeaux) who have also responded to the ANR Flash call on the topic of the dynamics of virus spread.

Researchers in Human and social sciences, specifically in economics, law and psychology, are also contemplating different study projects which may be implemented after confinement - due to survey protocols, around themes as diverse and varied as workers’ withdrawal rights, municipal elections, relocations in the pharmaceutical industry, heterogeneity of behavior during confinement, impact on mental health, discriminatory behavior in the event of a health threat, the State's responsibility for fault with regards to the lack of protective masks, police powers, the proportionality of freedom restrictions, etc.

Finally, university professors and hospital practitioners are working daily on the topic of the Coronavirus in their hospital departments. Bordeaux University Hospital’s virology laboratory, directed by Professor Marie-Edith Lafon (researcher at MFP), ensures the diagnosis of all suspect samples from the region. Professor Denis Malvy - appointed member of the scientific and expert council for the Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran, and a researcher at the BPH research center – is in charge of the Tropical and traveler diseases unit, where COVID-19 patients are being treated.

A dedicated SPARK call for projects

In addition, the SPARK program (of which the University of Bordeaux is a member), that supports translational research to accelerate the conversion of good ideas into solutions that benefit patients and society, has chosen to put its international network to good use concerning Coronavirus research. SPARK Bordeaux has launched a dedicated COVID-19 call for projects with a streamlined review process and application file system. Three axes are targeted: prevention, and improving both the care and prognosis of COVID-19 positive patients. Identified projects will be developed in collaboration with the international SPARK Global network, in particular via SPARK Europe.

National support

"It is essential to mobilize the knowledge already acquired and generate new knowledge to better understand COVID-19, find new therapeutic sources and prepare a vaccine that will ensure individual and collective protection" states Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

The ministry has also stated to have increased the overall COVID-19 research effort to 8 million euros in order to support and coordinate the scientific response to the spread of the virus on national territory.