School of Medicine

The Pulse

LSU Health Awarded Fast Grant for COVID Research; Study Seeks Health Care Workers, Others to Participate

Leslie Capo, Director of Information Services

Paul Fidel, Jr., PhD, Professor and Director of the Center of Excellence in Oral and Craniofacial Biology and Associate Dean for Research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry, has been awarded a $300,000 Fast Grant to support a research study evaluating the MMR vaccine's ability to produce the cells that may prevent or decrease the lung inflammation/sepsis associated with COVID-19 infection following exposure.

The study is seeking health care workers and EMS first responders at high risk for COVID-19 infection to participate in this randomized control clinical trial. Participants must be 18-70 years of age; have no previous positive test for COVID-19 infection or documented COVID-19 antibodies; no previous MMR vaccination within the past year, and no history of weakened immune system disorders or immunosuppressive treatments/therapy.

Study participants will be asked to answer health-related questions, donate blood and nasal swabs at five clinic visits for the detection of COVID-19 infection and antibodies, and be randomized to receive the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine or placebo. Participants will be followed over a period of 12 months.

The study grew out of preliminary research suggesting that live attenuated vaccines such as MMR may prevent the severe lung inflammation and sepsis associated with COVID-19 infection.

“Increasing evidence demonstrates that live attenuated vaccines can activate nonspecific immune cells to train leukocytes (the white blood cells of the immune system) to mount a more effective defense against unrelated infections,” notes Dr. Fidel.

For more information about the study, contact Mary at the LSU Health New Orleans Clinical & Translational Research Center at 504-568-2266 or 504-568-2284.

The Fast Grant project was created to quickly fund academic researchers working on COVID-19-related research. The project is a part of Emergent Ventures, a project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Fast Grants are $10k to $500k, and decisions are made in under 14 days.