Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Trudeau to accelerate research on COVID and tick-borne illness

TrudeauTrudeau Institute’s efforts to combat COVID-19 and tick-borne illnesses have received a $150,000 boost from the Cloudsplitter Foundation.

The gift from Cloudsplitter, which supports organizations dedicated to improving the environment, economies and lives of people in the Adirondacks, will support a new lab established by Trudeau in 2020.


Lee Keet, chairman of Cloudsplitter’s board of directors, joined the group’s director, Chenelle Palyswiat, to present the first, $50,000 installment of the grant at Trudeau on Friday, February 5.

“Given what we know about the virulence of COVID, this is an especially rewarding grant to make,” Keet said during the presentation.

Initially, the new lab was intended to combat Powassan virus, a potentially deadly disease spread by ticks. COVID-19, though, expanded the scope of the lab’s work. One group of researchers in the lab, led by Dr. Priya Luthra, is investigating how those viruses operate; another, led by Dr. Felix Sheinerman, will adapt and optimize existing drugs to treat the disease.

“Over the past 10 months, Trudeau’s research teams have jumped head-first into the fight against coronavirus,” said Atsuo Kuki, Trudeau’s president and director. “Cloudsplitter’s generous support validates our effort. At the same time, this grant means that when the threat from COVID subsides, we’ll be able to take a running start at Powassan—a menace that isn’t standing still, even as our attention is dominated by coronavirus.”

Cloudsplitter’s gift will enable Trudeau’s lab to add staff as well as acquire advanced equipment enabling research on viruses and experimental therapies.

“I’m applying the lessons I learned from my previous work with Ebola, Zika and influenza to develop new approaches to combat coronavirus,” said Dr. Luthra, who attended the presentation. “One of the reasons I joined Trudeau last year is because of our extensive history making inroads into persistent diseases. I’m thankful to the Cloudsplitter Foundation for recognizing both our track record and potential, and ensuring we have the resources to make a real difference in 2021 and beyond.”

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2 Responses

  1. Betty73 says:

    It amazes me how quickly a Corona Virus vaccine was developed, yet a Lyme or other tick related illness vaccine is nowhere to be found. (I am aware there was a Lyme vaccine but it was pulled off the market). Tick-borne illnesses are no joke. They show no signs of slowing down either. I’ve been sick off and on with Lyme since 2007. I also tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever around 2009. I’m currently on IV antibiotics for what my dr. expects is a new infection. It is so bad out here on the east end of Long Island. Last few years, I see how bad it’s getting in the Adirondacks too. I used to think I was safe up there because of the brutal winters. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Disease carrying ticks are everywhere.

  2. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Disease carrying ticks are everywhere.”

    Not yet! I’ve been in places in Vermont where I walked through a waist-high farm field and not one tick appeared on my person. That was some few years ago though and I’d like to think it remains the same. Other places in Vermont, up near the Halpin Covered Bridge for one…ticks galore in the wooded thickets nearby. Barre, Vt. loaded with ticks across from Hope Cemetery in the woods. Also near Benson, Vt. ticks galore. Other places nearby, like Orwell (where I walked in that waist-high field)…no ticks.

    Otsego County, NY. Ticks are scarce as of yet. I’m a wanderer of fields and woodlots and I have yet to become a host. I’ve even asked farmers in Otsego County if any ticks and they say “no.” How long will this last? I doubt long. I wonder what they’re doing different in them parts!

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