SARANAC LAKE—Trudeau Institute and Ampersand Biosciences have received a $596,519 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop tests that help COVID-19 researchers assess the effectiveness of new vaccines under development.
As part of the two-year Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant, which will begin in September, Trudeau will produce monoclonal antibodies for Ampersand. In turn, Ampersand will include those antibodies in tests—or reagents—it produces for use by immunology researchers.
“These new tools to study how hosts respond to CoV-2 will accelerate preclinical development of new therapeutics and vaccines against this pandemic disease,” said Tori Race, Ph.D., of Ampersand, who is the project’s principal investigator.
Most laboratory testing on vaccines involves mice, which don’t respond to COVID the same way humans do. The new tests are designed to work in other small animal models that do a better job predicting how humans will respond to the same treatment.
“This innovative work will provide valuable experimental reagents to researchers as they continue to investigate the impact of CoV-2 in the lab,” said Deb Brown, Ph.D., a principal investigator in Trudeau Institute’s influenza and vaccines program. “As the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to change, researchers need to keep pace by developing new vaccines.”
This is the second NIH contract received by Trudeau and Ampersand, a commitment that highlights the North Country’s burgeoning biotech industry. In 2020, the organizations received an earlier grant for $572,000, supporting similar work to investigate respiratory infections such as influenza. That funding produced 14 different reagents to detect infection-induced biomarkers in the bloodstream of experimental animals as predictors of mild or severe influenza infections.
“These grants don’t just benefit us and Trudeau, but the entire region,” said Laurie Stephen, Ph.D., president of Lake Clear-based Ampersand. “This funding helps us build our business. And it tells others that you can build a successful STEM career in the Adirondacks.”
About Trudeau Institute:
The Trudeau Institute, headquartered in Saranac Lake, N.Y., safeguards human health by combatting 21st-century global health crises, such as the rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis, COVID-19 and emerging pandemic viruses. Its roots can be traced to 1884, when Edward Livingston Trudeau launched the first American laboratory solely dedicated to tuberculosis research. Today, Trudeau scientists spearhead innovation by conducting urgent biomedical research on infectious disease and collaborating with national and international R&D partners to accelerate medical impact.
About Ampersand Biosciences:
Ampersand Biosciences LLC was founded in 2014. The company’s line of business includes providing commercial physical and biological research and development, including the development and manufacturing of immunoassay kits.
Photo at top: Laurie Stephen & Tori Race. Photo provided by Elisabeth Cain, Director of Strategic Operations, Trudeau Institute.