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King’s researchers win £1m grant for COVID-19 research

A research team at King’s College London led by Professor Michael Malim from the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences has been awarded £1 million funding for research into COVID-19.

The grant, from The Huo Family Foundation, will advance the team’s research into better understanding the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, in the hope of developing better diagnostic testing and novel immunotherapies for patients with virus.

The Foundation will support a programme of work to inform help shape approaches to patient treatment and provide guidance at local and national level on issues of infection surveillance and control.

The University said the multi-disciplinary team, which includes expertise in the immune system and virus-induced diseases, and the clinical diagnosis, management and treatment of infectious diseases, will work alongside the NHS and other academic partners to “rapidly translate scientific breakthroughs to the frontlines of COVID-19 healthcare and infection control”.

“This funding award is essential for us to further develop novel research into COVID-19, expanding on our preliminary work, built on the effort of an incredible team of volunteers and goodwill. We look forward to contributing to the fight against COVID-19, supporting diagnostics and further disease understanding,” said Dr Rocio Martinez-Nunez, from the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences.

The work so far includes the development of scalable antibody tests to track immunity to the virus and monitoring the human response in patients to understand why people respond differently to the COVID-19 infection.

The team has also set up – in collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals and pathology provider Viapath – an NHS-accredited COVID-19 diagnostic centre, recently renamed the June Almeida lab, after the virologist who discovered the first coronavirus in 1964.