Pandemic Response Challenge Program: Opportunity for collaboration with Japanese researchers

The NRC's Pandemic Response Challenge Program is funding a number of internal research projects within the NRC, as well as with various external collaborators.

A full list of external collaborators funded by NRC's Challenge Programs can be found here.

Principal investigators of the following projects have expressed an interest in partnering with Japanese researchers, who may be eligible to apply for funding from the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

Molecular assay for instrumentless SARS‑CoV‑2 rapid diagnostic from saliva

Description: The NRC is seeking a solution for a molecular assay allowing a rapid (less than 30 min) and efficient colorimetric detection of SARS‑CoV‑2 from saliva without the use of an instrument. The molecular assay will be integrated with saliva collection and processing technology developed by the NRC with the final objective of the mass production of a saliva‑based solution that can be deployed on the front line for rapid testing.

A follow‑on project may be undertaken in collaboration with the NRC to explore the provision of enough fabrication capacity of reagents to feed fabrication of up to 100,000 tests per month. The reagents formulation would need to be compatible with room temperature storage for up to 6 months allowing for deployment in distributed testing sites.

Additional details can be found in the NRC's original Call for capabilities.

Principal investigator:
Teodor Veres
Director of R&D, Micro‑Nano Devices, Medical Devices Research Centre, National Research Council Canada

Contact: Roscoe Klinck (Roscoe.Klinck@nrc‑

Development of serological assays for the detection of immune response to SARS‑CoV‑2

Description: Researchers funded by the Pandemic Response Challenge Program at the NRC have developed capabilities to produce large quantities of trimeric SARS‑CoV‑2 spike antigen for serological assay development. In a collaborative effort to improve serological testing in Japan, the NRC will provide milligram quantities of purified spike antigen, and if desired, the CHO cell expression system producing ~450 mg/L of spike for the local production of the protein, and secondary monoclonal anti‑hIgGs antibody (HRP‑linked) to Japanese researchers working to develop serological assays for the public. A biotinylated hACE2 receptor ectodomain can also be provided in quantity for running surrogate neutralization potency assay on patient sera. A materials transfer agreement for the biological samples and for testing data exchange will be established as part of this Japan‑Canada collaboration.

Principal investigator:
Yves Durocher
Section Head, Mammalian Cell Expression, Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre, National Research Council Canada

Contact: Roscoe Klinck (Roscoe.Klinck@nrc‑

Drug screening using 3D RISM simulation of interaction between COVID‑19 spike and ACE2 protein

Description: The NRC has developed a 3D Reference Interaction Site Model (RISM) modeling software tool optimized for high‑performance computing (HPC) platforms. This tool is being used to study the nanomorphology of binding of the SARS‑CoV‑2 RNA‑dependent RNA Polymerase, and the screening of potential inhibitors of the spike‑ACE2 interaction. The NRC would be interested in partnering with Japanese researchers who could use this tool for the selection and in silico screening of potential drugs targeting COVID‑19, and who have access to an HPC platform.

ACE2 protein is a gate receptor for SARS‑CoV‑2 spike protein, responsible for the novel coronavirus infection. Inhibition of the spike protein – ACE2 interaction is one of the most attractive ways to treat and prevent the disease. The computational modelling of this interaction could provide an important insight for further development of efficient inhibitors. Compared to the typical molecular dynamics approach, statistical‑mechanical theory of solvation used by RISM directly provides distributions of complex solvents around the binding location as well as the thermodynamics.

Principal investigator:
Sergey Gusarov
Senior Research Officer, Theory and Modelling, Nanotechnology Research Centre, National Research Council Canada

Contact: Sergey.Gusarov@nrc‑