San Antonio Researchers Land $200,000 to Develop Possible COVID-19 Vaccine


Karl Klose, director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases - COURTESY PHOTO / UTSA
  • Courtesy Photo / UTSA
  • Karl Klose, director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases
A consortium of San Antonio scientists has landed $200,000 in funding to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio, UT Health San Antonio, Southwest Research Institute and Texas Biomedical Research Institute secured the grant, which will fund research based on how a prototype vaccine for the respiratory illness tularemia could be adapted to fight off the coronavirus.

Like COVID-19, the rare infectious disease tularemia is transmitted when microbes are inhaled into the lungs, suggesting the altered prototype could also protect people from the coronavirus.

“Because it’s a living organism, we can engineer our tularemia vaccine to produce 'pieces' of the SARS CoV-2 virus, which will allow the host to recognize it and make antibodies against it," said Karl Klose, a UTSA microbiology professor and director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. "We hope that these antibodies will protect people against COVID-19, in addition to tularemia."

San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics issued a call for COVID-19 funding proposals shortly after the coronavirus swept into Texas. Within a week, it received 17 and ultimately selected the UTSA consortium for the grant.

The Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio, which promotes collaborative research on infectious diseases, will contribute 25% of the total project cost to the new research.

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