CARE logo


Start Date
End Date
IMI2 - Call 21
Grant agreement number

Type of Action: 
RIA (Research and Innovation Action)

IMI Funding
36 559 186
EFPIA in kind
33 936 199
Associated Partners
5 382 915
28 376
Total Cost
75 906 676


The goal of the CARE project is to deliver treatments for the current COVID-19 outbreak as well as future coronavirus outbreaks.

Part of the project will focus on ‘repurposing’, in which drugs designed for other diseases are ‘repurposed’ for a new disease. Because a lot of work has already been carried out on these compounds, repurposing can deliver relatively rapid results.

The project also aims to deliver new drugs designed specifically to treat COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. To identify potential drugs, the project will screen 600 000 compounds across different libraries. They will also investigate antibodies capable of neutralising the virus.

Potential drugs identified by the project will undergo a range of laboratory tests to refine their design and evaluate and improve their safety and efficacy. Compounds that make the grade will enter clinical trials, where their safety and efficacy will be tested in humans.

The CARE project is committed to the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles of open science and will share its scientific results through open access platforms and peer-reviewed journals, as well as via relevant conferences and other events. The team will also work closely with other, similar projects.

Ultimately, CARE should both contribute to the world’s response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, and ensure we are better prepared for further coronavirus outbreaks in the future.

Achievements & News

Scientists discover a highly potent antibody against SARS-CoV-2
October 2021

Researchers involved in IMI’s COVID project CARE have isolated a highly potent monoclonal antibody against SARS-CoV-2, one of the most powerful identified so far.###

Writing in the journal Cell Reports, the scientists from Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and EPFL explain that the monoclonal antibody targets the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and is effective at neutralising all variants of concern identified to date, including the delta variant.

In addition to its antiviral properties, the new antibody is designed to have a lasting effect in humans. A typical unaltered antibody provides protection for up to 3–4 weeks. But this new one can protect patients for 4–6 months. That makes it an interesting preventive-treatment option for unvaccinated, at-risk individuals or for vaccinated individuals who are unable to produce an immune response. Immunocompromised patients, organ transplant recipients and those suffering from certain kinds of cancer could be protected against SARS-CoV-2 by receiving antibody injections two or three times a year.

CHUV and EPFL now plan to build on these promising results in association with a start-up company which will perform clinical development and production of the antibody-containing drug, through cooperation and intellectual property agreements. Clinical trials of the drug should begin in late 2022.

Find out more

Closing in on COVID: results from the first year of CARE
October 2021

Since its launch in 2020, IMI project CARE has published multiple studies that are teaching us more about how COVID19 wreaks havoc, and how it might be defeated. ### Highlights include:

  • A paper in Nature demonstrated that the antimalarial drug Hydroxychloroquine didn’t show any significant effect on viral load in non-human primates, whether alone or in combination with azithromycin.
  • A paper in Cell flags up a genetic link to the likelihood of someone developing severe disease.
  • Another paper shows on how SARS-CoV-2 indirectly damages the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels, lymph nodes and heart.
  • CARE has also produced a new assay (a test used for analysis) for understanding antibody response in natural infection versus vaccination. The team has also shed new light on the durability of different antibodies against the virus.

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Treatment tracker: IMI COVID-19 therapeutics projects make progress
March 2021

IMI’s COVID-19 therapeutics projects, launched in the wake of the pandemic outbreak, are starting to deliver results.###

The CARE consortium are trying to identify candidates among existing drugs that could be effective as treatments against COVID-19. In the latest project update, it was revealed that the screening of clinically-approved drugs in a SARS-CoV-2 cell-based assay did not provide a promising drug that can quickly be positioned towards clinical development, although some repurposed compounds are still undergoing pre-clinical proof of concept testing. They have identified advanced antibodies, compared to clinical antibodies, and their full profiling is ongoing. The first in vivo testing has started, with the first in human study to start in the second half of 2021.

IMPENTRI is tasked with repurposing and rapidly developing an existing therapy, imatinib, as a new and improved therapeutic approach for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2. Recruitment for the first clinical trial, a phase 2 trial of orally-administered imatinib in COVID-19 infected and hospitalised patients before they develop ARDS, has been completed. Recruitment for a second trial is set to commence.

MAD-CoV 2 is working on developing COVID-19 antivirals against SARS-CoV-2 by targeting the ACE2 receptor, the virus’s passageway into human cells. Several state-of-the-art advanced platforms for validation of antivirals against SARS-CoV-2 have been developed and some antivirals using this platform have been validated.

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Participants Show participants on map

EFPIA companies
  • Abbvie Inc, North Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Aicuris Anti-Infective Cures AG, Wuppertal, Germany
  • Astellas Pharma Europe BV, Leiden, Netherlands
  • Bayer Aktiengesellschaft, Leverkusen, Germany
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Internationalgmbh, Ingelheim, Germany
  • Institut De Recherches Servier, Suresnes, France
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica Nv, Beerse, Belgium
  • Merck Kommanditgesellschaft Auf Aktien, Darmstadt, Germany
  • Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • Pfizer Limited, Sandwich, Kent , United Kingdom
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG, Glattpark-Opfikon (Zurich), Switzerland
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands
  • Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Commissariat A L Energie Atomique Et Aux Energies Alternatives, Paris, France
  • Eidgenoessisches Departement Des Innern, Bern, Switzerland
  • Eurovacc Foundation, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Fur Infektionsforschung GMBH, Braunschweig, Germany
  • Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale, Paris, France
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt Am Main, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • Servicio Madrileno De Salud, Madrid, Spain
  • Stiftung Tieraerztliche Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • The University Of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • UNIVERSITAET zu LUEBECK, Luebeck, Germany
  • Universitaet Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • Universite D'Aix Marseille, Marseille, France
  • Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Krakow, Poland
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Ai-Biopharma, Montpellier, France
  • Enyo Pharma, Lyon, France
  • Exscientia Limited, Dundee, United Kingdom
  • Iktos, Paris, France
  • Inserm Transfert SA, Paris, France
  • Nuvisan Icb GMBH, Berlin, Germany
  • Scifeon Aps, Soborg, Denmark
Associated partners
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, United States
  • Global Health Drug Discovery Institute, Beijing, China (People's Republic of)
  • University Of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Third parties
  • Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique Cnrs, Paris, France
  • Centrum Voor Innovatie En Stimulatie Van Medicijnontwikkeling Leuven Vzw, Leuven, Belgium
  • Fundacion Para La Investigacion Biomedica Del Hospital Universiatrio La Paz, Madrid, Spain
  • Universite De Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
  • Universite Paris Xii Val De Marne, Creteil cedex, France
Project coordinator
Yves Levy
Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale