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PENCE undertakes cutting edge research on SARS


Edmonton, AB May 28, 2003 A total of C$250,000 in funding has been awarded to seven national projects to study the structure and function of SARS proteins. The funding is being made by PENCE, the Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence.

“The purpose of these studies is to provide a structural and functional analysis of the SARS proteins”, says Dr David Rose (University of Toronto), chair of the PENCE SARS committee. “These projects will network leading researchers from across Canada to conduct critical research for the development of new therapies and vaccines against SARS”.

PENCE has funded the following projects as part of its fast-tracked SARS research program, with project leader and institution in parentheses:

– High-throughput cloning and expression of SARS proteins (Dr Cheryl Arrowsmith, Ontario Cancer Institute, University of Toronto);
– The 3CL protease of Urbani coronavirus: a SARS target (Dr Lindsay Eltis, University of British Columbia);
– Development and application of a fluorescence cell-based assay for monitoring SARS coronavirus (Dr Francois Jean, University of British Columbia);
– Large-scale production of the Spike protein of SARS-CoV (Dr James Rini, University of Toronto);
– Processing and structure-function of the Spike glycoprotein E2 (Dr Nabil Seidah, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal);
– Identification of compounds disrupting the crucial protein-protein interactions in SARS infections (Dr Shi-Hsiang Shen, Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI) of NRC); and
– The SARS Bioinformatics Suite (Dr Chris Upton, University of Victoria).

“With the successful genomic sequencing of SARS by the Michael Smith BC Genome Sciences Centre (BCGSC) and Health Canada (Winnipeg), Canada has emerged as a leader in fighting the SARS epidemic. In order to build on this achievement, PENCE has rapidly mobilized funding for Canadian researchers to conduct short-term, high-impact research on SARS towards the identification of validated targets for therapeutics, lead compounds and libraries of drug/vaccine candidates,” says Dr. Stephen Withers (University of British Columbia), CEO and scientific director of PENCE. “In addition, we have also developed a SARS website to provide the latest information on this disease for both researchers and the general public (www.sarsresesearch.ca)”.