Up to 150 researchers are being re-deployed to work on a project that aims to test drugs to find a treatment for coronavirus.
The team at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Inflammation Research believe new therapies could be discovered and implemented before a vaccine becomes widely available.
They aim to repurpose medicines for other conditions that are already in clinical use or are currently being tested.
The new project – STOPCOVID – will focus on the inflammatory pathways that lead directly to lung injury, which is associated with the most severe aspects of Covid-19.
STOPCOVID has secured £2m funding from LifeArc, a medical research charity, with its Centre for Diagnostics Development based at Edinburgh BioQuarter. Baillie Gifford, an investment firm, has also agreed to provide funding for the project.
The team aims to raise a total of £15m from the private sector.
Professor Kev Dhaliwal, STOPCOVID lead and consultant in respiratory medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Covid-19 is the biggest global challenge of a generation. By rapidly testing therapies that stop the inflammatory cascade associated with the most severe aspect of the disease – leading ultimately to respiratory failure – we can urgently discover ways to prevent the need for a ventilator.
“We must unite together, across sectors, across disciplines, across continents to tackle the devastating effects of this virus as fast as possible.”
Dr Catriona Crombie, associate director of Technology Transfer, LifeArc, said: “The work of Professor Dhaliwal and his team aligns to LifeArc’s focus on translational medical research and accelerating the development of promising ideas that address patient need.
“We are pleased to support STOPCOVID and be part of the collective effort in the rapid and effective testing of any promising medicines that could potentially provide a treatment option for Covid-19 patients at this crucial period.”