Scientist Resources

The Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR) offers a variety of resources for investigators at our member institutions (see the MassCPR Working Groups,  MassCPR Intranet and Resources Sharing, Funding, and Samples tabs) as well as resources available to the public (see the Events and Other COVID-19 Websites tab).

MassCPR Working Groups

To request to join a MassCPR working group, please fill out this form.

MassCPR encourages those in the research community who need laboratory resources for planned experiments to post a listing here and those who are willing to share available assets needed by laboratories to post a listing on this page. If you are a member of a MassCPR academic institution and have marketplace items to post in the “I Have” or “I Need” section and need access, please request a MassCPR Resources Access Account using this form.

MassCPR Intranet and Resource Sharing

Please note that you will need to be a member of a MassCPR Working Group or member institution in order to have access to the MassCPR Intranet site.

Current working group members have access; login credentials were sent to the email address we had on file in July 2020. If you have joined a working group more recently, you will have been sent an email with login credentials where your request was processed. If you are a member of a MassCPR academic institution and need access please request MassCPR Resources Access Acount using this form. If you have questions about the Intranet, please contact MassCPR@hms.harvard.edu.

MassCPR encourages the research community to access our internal resource sharing site. Those who are willing to share available assets needed by laboratories can post a listing on the "I have" page. Those who are seeking resources can post on the "I need" page

Additional resources and content will be made available on the Intranet in the future.

Shared Research Resources: Key findings funded by MassCPR

Shared research resources have supported some of the greatest triumphs of MassCPR, including its breakthroughs in vaccine development, clinical trials, and the establishment of a multi-institutional system for biospecimen collection and distribution. The key research resources developed with support from MassCPR include:

Key Reagents and Models for the Study of SARS-CoV-2

Access to large quantities of purified SARS-CoV-2 proteins and to laboratory models of key steps in the SAR-CoV-2 lifecycle have been essential to the research of many MassCPR investigators and for testing and characterizing potential anti-viral therapies.

Chen and colleagues (BCH) produced soluble SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) trimer and soluble human ACE2 receptor domains in milligram quantities, and generated stable cell lines for large-scale production of these recombinant proteins to support research by MassCPR investigators. Cryo-EM structures of full-length S proteins derived from several viral variants were determined; these will help guide development of improved vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

Schmidt and colleagues (HMS) produced and purified large quantities of the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the surface-exposed SARS-CoV-2 S protein. This was distributed to more than 40 different laboratories and hospitals worldwide for diverse projects, including projects focused on developing COVID diagnostics, assaying immune responses from vaccine candidates in clinical trials, and elucidating mechanisms of pathogenesis for SARS-CoV-2.

Namchuk and colleagues (HMS) developed high-throughput enzyme assays for the SARS-CoV-2 proteases Mpro and PLpro. Strategies for structure-enabled design of peptidomimetic inhibitors of Mpro and PLpro were also developed; several novel protease inhibitor candidates are being further pursued as possible anti-COVID therapeutics.

Sharpe and colleagues (HMS) set up a breeding colony of human K18 hACE2 transgenic mice and shared the mice with MassCPR investigators for studies of SARS CoV-2 infection. The availability of this strain was limited at the beginning of the pandemic and it was helpful to have a local colony. Work was also done to optimize use of the mouse strain for in vivo studies of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, vaccines, and therapeutics in collaboration with investigators Davey, Corley, and others at the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories (NEIDL) at Boston University.

Assays for SARS-CoV-2 Antiviral Activity at High Biological Containment

Validation studies using infection models are important for the development of antiviral countermeasures. SARS-CoV-2 is classified as a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) pathogen. To facilitate studies with live virus, MassCPR provided virology support to members of the Massachusetts research community who did not otherwise have access to high-containment laboratories. MassCPR support for BSL-3 resources at the Ragon Institute (Walker) supported cell-based virus assays for approximately 10 laboratories, and provided training for several new BSL-3 users. PIs Davey and Muhlberger and colleagues, working at the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories (NEIDL) at Boston University, provided tissue culture cell-based and primary cell-based assays, as well as mouse model assays, for detection of viral infection and replication. These were used to screen candidate small molecule therapeutics directed against SARS-CoV-2 and to study host response to SAR-CoV-2 infection.

SARS-CoV-2 Testing and Diagnosis

MassCPR made an early contribution to the Broad Institute (Hung) that facilitated set-up of a CLIA-compliant COVID-19 testing resource and enabled successful application for FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a Broad-developed clinical diagnostic test. Once established, the Broad testing service provided fee-for-service testing for nursing homes, hospitals, community health centers, underserved communities, schools, and employers throughout Massachusetts. Funding to the BWH Diagnostics Accelerator (Walt) supported work to establish an efficient pipeline for standardized evaluation of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, both in the lab and in field studies. This has allowed for a rapid comparison of test sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility across multiple PCR and rapid antigen tests.

System for Biospecimen Collection and Distribution

Immediately following its establishment, MassCPR had the foresight to prioritize coordinating the collection and distribution of COVID-19 patient biospecimens across its consortium. MassCPR directly supported establishment of patient COVID-19 patient cohorts and biobanking efforts at BIDMC (Barouch), Boston Medical Center (Jacobson), Tufts Medical Center (Jordan), BWH (Li), and MGH and the Ragon Institute (Yu). The MassCPR Sample Access Accelerator Committee (SAAC), comprised of 17 representative experts from each of its clinical institutions and chaired by Heller (MGH) and Walt (BWH), established a common framework for collecting, storing, and distributing COVID-19 clinical biospecimens in a transparent, fair, and prioritized manner. Through mid-2021, more than 88,000 biosamples from almost 1,700 subjects were collected and stored. Of those, slightly more than 4,000 were distributed via 61 independent requests from 13 research institutions.

Clinical Trials for Novel SARS-CoV-2 Therapies

Baden and colleagues (BWH) leveraged seed funding from MassCPR and used adaptive trial designs to develop clinical trials to study novel, potentially active antiviral and immunomodulatory therapies against SARS-CoV-2. Several trials were designed and implemented, such as one that supported the development of high SARS-CoV-2 titer convalescent plasma. From this work, an overarching adaptive clinical trial study design platform was created to rapidly assess novel compounds in patients with COVID-19. The trials were further supported with funding from philanthropy and collaborative grants from industry and the NIH.

Shared Research Resources: Future areas of investigation

MassCPR support for shared reagents and laboratory models, for COVID testing and diagnosis, and for clinical trials has shifted out of the Research Resources area of the program to other MassCPR project areas, as relevant, and also to other, external sources of funding. For example, the protease inhibitor therapeutics work of Namchuk and colleagues is now supported mostly by a collaboration with an industrial partner.

Access to BSL-3 facilities for work with live virus in cell-based and animal models of infectious disease continues to be a limiting factor for researchers at several MassCPR member institutions. MassCPR leadership has investigated local options for increasing BSL-3 capacity and is keeping this need in mind as consortium priorities are discussed.

MassCPR continues to support a major effort to collect and distribute patient biospecimens across consortium member institutions. The current focus of sample collection efforts is to study viral variants and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC; also known as long COVID), and also on newly emerging infectious diseases such as monkeypox. In addition to coordinating biobanking efforts, new efforts have been initiated to develop more robust annotation of biosamples with clinical data and with results from panels of standardized assays that help to characterize the infecting virus and the patient’s immune response.

Funding

Samples

MassCPR and Member Institution Resources

Access to Samples: Any investigator affiliated with a MassCPR member institution may request Covid-19+ biospecimens to support their research. For information about this resource, including the request form, please visit the MassCPR Sample Sharing page.

Events

Other COVID-19 Websites