The COVID-19 Research Network Lower Saxony (COFONI) is funding 13 interdisciplinary collaborative research projects in Lower Saxony with 5.97 million euros, aimed at investigating active substances against SARS-CoV-2 and at studying the mechanisms of disease as well as the long-term effects of COVID-19. Due to the renewed project funding, COFONI is including further research partners in the network, thereby enhancing the integration of Lower Saxony's expertise in coronavirus research. Additional funding for the projects investigating the long-term effects of COVID-19 comes from the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture. The total of 5.97 million euros is immediately available to the scientists.
Fraunhofer ITEM is involved in one of the thirteen projects being funded. In collaboration with Prof. Luka Čičin-Šain (Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Braunschweig), Prof. Stefan Pöhlmann (German Primate Center (DPZ), Göttingen) and Prof. Martin Ulrich (Hannover Medical School (MHH), Hannover), Prof. Armin Braun and his team at Fraunhofer ITEM will study the role of TMPRSS2 proteolysis in SARS-CoV-2 propagation in cells from the respiratory tract and in vivo. Braun will contribute his know-how on the organotypic lung slicing technique, which means the creation of tissue sections from human lung tissue resulting for example from tumor resections. The tissue remains viable and functional for several days and will be infected with SARS-CoV-2 for the intended investigations. This ex-vivo infection model will allow the researchers to study the mechanisms of a coronavirus infection in detail directly in human tissue.
Read more in the recent press release of the UMG, Universitätsmedizin Göttingen (available in German language only).