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Penn Dental Medicine Among Wolf Administration Awardees to Battle COVID-19

Penn Dental Medicine is among the 23 statewide awardees from the administration of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolff to advance coronavirus research. The award to the lab of Henry Daniell, PhD, W.D. Miller Professor in the Department of Basic & Translational Sciences, is part of $10 million in grant funding through the state’s COVID-19 Vaccines,

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Philadelphia — Penn Dental Medicine is among the 23 statewide awardees from the administration of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolff to advance coronavirus research. The award to the lab of Henry Daniell, PhD, W.D. Miller Professor in the Department of Basic & Translational Sciences, is part of $10 million in grant funding through the state’s COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments and Therapies (CV-VTT) program to support the rapid advancement of vaccines, treatments, and therapies.

Daniell was awarded just over $823,000 to accelerate the progress of two novel strategies for combating COVID-19, both of which leverage decades of experience with the successful development of plant-based protein therapies to develop targeted oral therapeutics and vaccination strategies.

In the therapeutic realm, Daniell, in collaboration with Kenneth Margulies,MD,  of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, is pursuing first-in-human studies of an oral preparation that directly supplements two beneficial proteins — ACE2 and its protein product, angiotensin (1-7) — that are severely depleted in COVID-19 patients. It will assess whether a drug developed for a very different condition— pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) — could reduce lung and heart injuries in coronavirus patients.

Daniell’s earlier preclinical studies in PAH animal models showed that orally delivered ACE2 made in plant cells accumulated ten times higher in the lungs than in the blood and safely treated PAH. His proposed clinical studies through this grant award would explore whether oral supplementation of ACE2 and angiotensin-1-7 can help mitigate complications of COVID-19 disease.

In the vaccination realm, Daniell is developing a plant-based oral vaccination to induce durable mucosal immunity suitable for boosting waning immunity following an injected vaccine.

Read the full story at: dental.upenn.edu/

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