Throughout France, a vast number of research teams are working against the clock to understand and combat Covid-19.

In response to this unprecedented crisis, on 6 March the French national research agency (Agence nationale de la recherche – ANR) launched the ANR COVID-19 Flash call for projects, a fast-track scheme to respond to urgent research needs. 

100 Covid-19 research projects funded

The aim: to select 100 projects to improve our understanding of the virus and its interactions, and explore areas making it possible to develop preventive or curative treatments.

Twelve of these selected projects are funded directly by the French foundation for medical research, (Fondation pour la recherche médicale – FRM) which has joined forces with the ANR. The allocated funding varies from €100,000 to €200,000 per project and may include costs linked to equipment, operations, missions and/or staffing.

True to its mission as a charitable financier of medical research, « the FRM has opted for the fastest and most effective response to once again provide vital support for all of these research teams in France », explains the FRM’s scientific director, Valérie Lemarchandel.

Photo d'une chercheuse dans un laboratoire

Fast-track scheme for immediate, practical support 

Within the scope of the call for projects, CNP Assurances has contributed €200,000 to the FRM’s fundraising campaign for medical research. 

Our Group’s contribution to support the researchers’ fight against Covid-19 is « fully in-keeping with its mission to protect people and with its societal commitments », explains Agathe Sanson, Head of Communication, Strategic Marketing and Sponsorship for CNP Assurances.

Thanks to this emergency support scheme, the teams that are selected by the FRM and the ANR’s scientific committee will be able to start their research immediately.

Promising research topics 

Here are three of the selected projects that focus on two promising topics: research into antiviral treatments (through drug repositioning or innovative approaches) and the development of serological tests. 

Antiviral treatments – drug repositioning (used for diseases other than viral infections)

ANTI-CoV - Identifying effective antiviral drugs to manage the disease
This project seeks to identify drugs that are effective against SARS-CoV-2 among antiviral compounds that have previously been or are currently approved for use in the treatment of diseases other than respiratory viral infections. Their effects will then be characterised and tested within different models, either alone or in association with other antivirals being evaluated.
Project coordinator: Jean Dubuisson, Head of the “Molecular and Cellular Virology” team, Centre for Infection & Immunity at the Institut Pasteur de Lille – FRM funding: €199,657.

Antiviral treatments – innovative approaches

SARS2BlockEntry - Construction of “nanoligand” molecules to block Sars-CoV-2
The SARS2BlockEntry project aims to develop nanoligands, capable of neutralising the SARS-CoV-2 virus and preventing it from multiplying in lung cells. These nanoligands could make it possible to obtain antivirals capable of targeting SARS-CoV-2.
Project coordinator: Bernard Delmas, Head of the Molecular Virology and Immunology Unit at the Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement, Jouy-en-Josas. FRM funding: €199,938.

Development of serological tests

CorPopImm – Serological tests to assess population immunity
The CorPopimm project contributes to the development of serological tests which detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the blood, a sign of immunity left by the COVID-19 infection. These tests must be suitable for large-scale deployment and they must be effective in the long term. This will make it possible to assess the level of population immunity to the virus.
Project coordinator: Michael White, “Malaria: Parasites and Hosts” team, Institut Pasteur, Paris - FRM funding: €199,800.