REGINA -- A biochemistry professor at the University of Regina has received nearly $1 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to research “the therapeutic and diagnostic gaps associated with COVID-19.”

“This CIHR funding is an important step towards helping a team of dedicated scientists develop peptide therapeutics and point-of-care diagnostics to effectively and rapidly contain the COVID-19 outbreak,” Dr. Mohan Babu said.

Babu is working with a team of researchers from six different research institutions across Canada.

The funding will also aid the research of a faster and less invasive testing method for COVID-19.

Dr. Walter Siqueira, head of the Salivary Proteomics Research Laboratory in the College of Dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan will lead the diagnostic portion of the research.

The testing model in development will take just five minutes between the sample and the results, and will be more sensitive to those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

“With Dr. Siqueira, we are developing a diagnostic test to detect the viral peptides in the saliva of patients,” Babu says. “This could be powerful because we can use the tool in long-term care homes, remote locations, hospitals, and clinical centres, and to detect COVID-19 patients in low- and middle-income countries.”

The research team includes the University of Saskatchewan, Carleton University the University of Toronto, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the University of Manitoba, and Western University.