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McMaster researcher wins immunology award for work tied to inhalable COVID vaccine

Zhou Xing, professor of medicine and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, has been named the winner of a prestigious award for research into mucosal vaccines. McMaster University

A McMaster University researcher has received a prestigious award from the Canadian organization that fosters and supports Immunology research across the country.

Dr. Zhou Xing, a professor of medicine with McMaster Research and the DeGroote Institute, is the 2023 recipient of the Hardy Cinader Award, recognizing distinguished scientific leadership and accomplishments in the field of immunology.

The Canadian Society for Immunology (CSI) is acknowledging Xing’s lab which had several landmark preclinical discoveries tied to lung immune functions, T-cell responses, and mucosal vaccination in research developing tuberculosis vaccines.

Last year, that vaccine model was applied by Xing’s team to aid studies into a pair of inhaled vaccines to fight the original coronavirus that cause COVID-19 and variants of concern.

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“We began our COVID-19 work following more than 15 years of research into host-defense mechanisms, basic research in animal models, and research into aerosol delivery methods for vaccination against respiratory pathogens,” Xing said in a release.

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“We had all of the necessary technology established here at McMaster and we knew exactly how we should proceed.”

Studies to date show the method, which targets the lungs and upper airways where respiratory infections typically begin, is effective against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and variants of concern.

That research, part of a response for Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, received more than $8 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) to support Phase-2 human trials.

“We’re still enduring this pandemic,” Xing says. “We have emerging variants and breakthrough infections — there is a real need for next-generation vaccine strategies against COVID-19.”

Xing will receive the Cinader Award this spring at the annual CSI Meeting in Orford, Quebec.

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