Therapeutic Development for COVID-19 Coronavirus Induced Sepsis and ARDS Targeting Vascular Leakage

  • Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • Total publications:4 publications

Grant number: 170656

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    Canada, Americas
  • Lead Research Institution

    Unity Health Toronto
  • Research Category

    Therapeutics research, development and implementation

  • Research Subcategory

    Pre-clinical studies

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Not Applicable

  • Vulnerable Population

    Not applicable

  • Occupations of Interest

    Not applicable


The new coronavirus COVID-19 is threatening to become a global pandemic for which currently no effective drugs exist. Although development of vaccines and drugs targeting the virus are ramping up, none of these addresses host response of COVID-19 infections directly. CAVID-19 death is mainly caused by Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which arises from a dysregulated host immune response and associated vascular leakage from viral induced sepsis. Our proposed drug development efforts aim to control the host response and protect patients from ARDS and death. My lab developed a novel zebrafish sepsis model to screen and identify drug compounds that rescue sepsis-associated mortality and vascular leakage. This project will pursue two main research objectives: (1) develop our best anti-sepsis candidate drug UNC0642 for treatment of COVID-19 induced sepsis/ARDS, and (2) carry out drug screens to identify and repurpose existing drugs as anti-COVID-19 therapeutics. UNC0642 inhibits G9a and GLP enzymes responsible for gene regulation. Severe viral infection leads to an immune over-response which drives vascular leakage and results in multiple organ swelling and ARDS. We hypothesize that UNC0642 will protect coronavirus patients from organ swelling and decrease ARDS and mortality by controlling immune-associated gene expression. Dr. Wen has extensive expertise in virology, transgenic animal modelling, clinical medicine and drug development needed to carry out the proposed project. A collaboration with Dr. Samira Mubareka is in place to start COVID-19 virus work at University of Toronto's CL3 lab. Once developed, UNC0642 will become a first line treatment of severe COVID-19 infection. Because of the tragic outbreak of COVID-19 infection in China, regulatory filing for clinical trials in China are likely expedited, especially for repurposing existing drugs. COVID-19 mouse and zebrafish models developed will be rapidly shared with other coronavirus research groups.

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

Last Updated:41 minutes ago

View all publications at Europe PMC

Factors associated with one-year mortality after hospital discharge: A multicenter prospective cohort study.

Effectiveness of Transition Care Intervention Targeted to High-Risk Patients to Reduce Readmissions: Study Protocol for the TARGET-READ Multicenter Randomized-Controlled Trial.

Definition of patient complexity in adults: A narrative review.

Development and validation of a score to assess complexity of general internal medicine patients at hospital discharge: a prospective cohort study.