SARS-CoV-2 proteins, particularly the surface Spike protein, are prime targets of antibodies produced by the immune system. Production of highly pure, properly folded virus proteins is critical for structural studies to understand, at a molecular level, how antibodies interact with virus proteins. Side-by-side studies performed by CoVIC partners to determine antibody performance also require abundant amounts of standardized Spike protein to generate reproducible data to benchmark antibody function. Expressing and purifying SARS-CoV-2 proteins in sufficient quantities is a major bottleneck in the therapeutic pipeline. The Saphire lab is delighted to have been awarded funds from Fast Grants for the purchase of CO2 shaker incubators that will allow culture of large quantities of cells for production of Spike and other SARS-CoV-2 proteins for the CoVIC.
True to its name, Fast Grants provides rapid funds to scientists working at academic institutions to find vaccines and therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2. Fast Grants is supported by John and Patrick Collinson, the Crankstart Foundation, Kim and Scott Farquhar, Paul Graham, Reid Hoffman, Fiona McKean and Tobias Lütke, Yuri and Julia Milner, Chris and Crystal Sacca and others who together have committed over $15 million to support the research efforts of grant recipients. Grants for research related to COVID-19 are awarded within 48 hours of receipt of a short application and nearly 70 awards have already been issued. The Saphire lab is grateful to Fast Grants for providing funds to facilitate production of urgently needed reagents for COVID-19 studies by the CoVIC.