FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) — A team of scientists at Colorado State University has been awarded a $3.1 million contract to continue development of a coronavirus vaccine candidate known as SolaVAX™.
The money will support research at CSU’s Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center (BioMARC) facility. Scientists there are working to produce strains of the coronavirus to be used in the vaccine.
“The strategy uses UV light and riboflavin to create an inactivated virus, which stimulates a person’s immune system to fight the virus,” university officials stated. “The research team aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of the SolaVAX process to inactivate SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to be used in a vaccine against the disease.”
Alan Rudolph, CSU’s vice president for research, said this award demonstrates the university’s prominence in emerging infectious disease research and the rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have incredible resources at CSU that we have mobilized in the face of a global pandemic,” Rudolph said.
The vaccine has already been successfully tested in a pre-clinical testing feasibility program at CSU, according to Ray Goodrich, principal investigator for the project and executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU.
Officials said Goodrich assembled a diverse team of scientists at the university earlier this year to work toward producing a therapeutic or treatment to combat COVID-19.
“Handling the coronavirus is not something that can be done just anywhere,” said John Wyckoff, director of BioMARC. “This is what we’re made for, this is why we’re here at CSU.”
Lindsay Hartson, lab manager and part of the research team, said it feels great to have the validation through these new contracts that the work that is being done is valuable.