Respiratory viruses in the sights of Université Laval

Respiratory viruses in the sights of Université Laval


Laval University is taking a big step in research on viral respiratory infections with the creation of an international associated laboratory that will treat emerging or re-emerging viruses with which we are “increasingly confronted”.

Université Laval and Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 are joining forces and setting up an associated international laboratory whose work will focus on “the origin, treatment and prevention of respiratory viral infections” (LIA RespiVIR).

The new entity wants to “be a world reference” in its field. A particularly important aim when “we are indeed increasingly confronted with emerging or re-emerging viruses”, specifies the research director of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research at the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 , Manuel Rosa-Calatrava.

The latter and the full professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Laval University Guy Boivin will co-lead the project which will “accelerate our research”, says the Quebec researcher. 

“Very responsive”

The teams of the two researchers have already been collaborating since 2010, and this is what allowed them in particular to “be very responsive during the COVID-19 crisis” , says Dr. Rosa-Calatrava.

Their work could therefore prove to be of paramount importance if a new virus emerges. “We realize this, in the 20th century, there were three major pandemics. Since 2000, we have already had two pandemics,” he says, referring to Covid-19 and influenza A (H1N1).

“We have been collaborating for 12 years. Let's say that with the pandemic, we worked harder,” said Dr. Boivin 

He also recalled the inauguration of the containment level 3 (NC3) laboratory at the Center de research from the CHU de Québec-Université Laval, in 2020.

“When you look at that, it gives important problems in society. Just influenza, the direct and indirect cost in Canada is $1 billion a year. That's not counting COVID-19.”

Vaccine candidate

Their combined strength has already enabled the development of an intranasal vaccine candidate bivalent against bronchiolitis and viral pneumonia. This vaccine is currently in clinical study. A breakthrough that is very promising.

“At the moment, there is no vaccine on the market against the respiratory syncytial virus that causes bronchiolitis. We believe we can make a difference. It's not [for] tomorrow, but we're in the right direction,” says Dr. Boivin in conclusion.

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