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Scripps Research gets $67 million from NIH to lead new pandemic preparedness center

Sumit Chanda
Sumit Chanda, a professor in the Scripps Research Department of Immunology and Microbiology, is co-lead investigator for the new Center for Antiviral Medicines and Pandemic Preparedness, or CAMPP.
(File)

A major new antiviral drug development center led by Scripps Research in La Jolla to prime for the next pandemic is getting a $67 million award over three years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, with potential renewal for two additional years.

The Center for Antiviral Medicines and Pandemic Preparedness, or CAMPP, will be one of nine NIAID-sponsored Antiviral Drug Discovery Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern.

“The next global pandemic is a matter of when, not if, and with CAMPP we have a unique opportunity to prepare for that event,” said project co-lead investigator Sumit Chanda, a professor in the Scripps Research Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

The AViDD Centers program is one of the U.S. government’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and is aimed at the near-term development of drugs against viruses with high pandemic potential, including coronaviruses, filoviruses (such as Ebola), flaviviruses (yellow fever, dengue, Zika), paramyxoviruses, bunyaviruses and togaviruses.

“Bringing together outstanding virology expertise with the drug discovery infrastructure of Calibr [Scripps Research’s drug development arm] really enables the critical drug combination tools we need for this pandemic and future pandemic threats,” said co-lead Arnab Chatterjee, vice president of medicinal chemistry at Calibr.

Calibr already had made a major commitment to antivirals against coronaviruses with drug repurposing efforts and development of new antiviral agents that are advancing into clinical development.

The other CAMPP participants bring expertise in virology, viral targets, chemistry, and drug discovery and delivery. They include UC San Diego in La Jolla, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, Washington University in St. Louis and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Scripps Research brings its teams in infectious diseases, chemical biology, structural biology and animal/organoid modeling, as well as its multidisciplinary environment.

“The next global pandemic is a matter of when, not if, and with CAMPP we have a unique opportunity to prepare for that event.”

— Sumit Chanda

“The expertise we bring to this should allow us to develop efficient new methods as well as drugs targeting viral proteins that had been considered out of reach,” Chanda said.

“We are very excited to continue and expand our previous collaborations with Dr. Chanda’s and Dr. Chatterjee’s groups for the discovery and advancement of novel antivirals against pathogenic viruses, including SARS-CoV-2,” the COVID-19 virus, said co-lead investigator Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine.

The CAMPP portfolio includes later-stage programs that are expected to move through studies and clinical development during the funding period, as well as early-stage ones.

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.