Dr Matt Johansen from the Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation is the successful recipient of the Kenyon Foundation Inflammation Award for 2021. The Award, valued at $20,000, will support Dr Johansen’s study into the development of a potential new treatment for COVID-19 aimed at reducing excessive inflammation in the lungs.
“There’s an urgent need to identify effective therapies that can be used to treat COVID-19 and significantly reduce mortality. Excessive lung inflammation is often the cause of severe disease and death in COVID-19,” said Dr Johansen.
In his study, Dr Johansen will be targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome, a master regulator of inflammation which drives a cascade of downstream inflammatory processes in severely affected COVID-19 patients. A known inhibitor of the NLRP3 inflammasome–a molecule known as MCC950–will be investigated for its efficacy as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
“MCC950 has already been shown to mitigate lung inflammation associated with respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” said Dr Johansen.
“It’s also been shown to be highly effective in alleviating virally-driven inflammation in influenza, suggesting it may also be an effective treatment for COVID-19.”
Dr Johansen’s study will be carried out at the Centenary Institute’s high-containment PC3 facility, of which there are only four in Australia that are properly equipped to complete this form of specialised SARS-CoV-2 medical research.
“I am incredibly humbled to have been selected for this Award which will financially assist our efforts to identify the most effective therapies for COVID-19,” said Dr Johansen.
“As governmental funding becomes increasingly difficult to acquire, philanthropic support from organisations such as the Kenyon Foundation are a significant boost that can promote fundamental scientific research that benefits us all.”
David Kenyon, Trustee of the Kenyon Foundation said, “We’re thrilled to be able to support Dr Johansen’s research that could form the basis for new therapies for the treatment of COVID-19 that has the potential to change lives.”