Students of the Luxembourg Tech School support COVID-19 efforts

Game development contest pupils contribute to vaccine research at LIH

7th August 2020

3 min read                                                                                                                              

Students of the Luxembourg Tech School support COVID-19 efforts

Game development contest pupils contribute to vaccine research at LIH

On Friday July 31st, two students of the Luxembourg Tech School (LTS) granted the sum of EUR 1,000 to Prof Markus Ollert’s team at the Luxemburg Institute of Health (LIH), in support of its COVID-19 vaccine development activities. The donation was made by Antonio del Rio and Marco Brunacci, who had been awarded the second prize of the LTS ‘GameDev Challenge 2020’.

LTS is an extracurricular school programme aiming to encourage the training and education of the new generation of digital leaders aged 11 to 19. Founded in 2016, it has grown to include over 120 youngsters from 7 schools. In addition to weekly classes, LTS organises a series of activities and competitions to build and strengthen the students’ digital skills. One of these initiatives, the ‘GameDev Challenge 2020’, teaches participants to design and develop their own game through online resources and tutoring. Marco Brunacci and Antonio del Rio were awarded the second prize of the 2020 edition of the challenge, amounting to EUR 1,000, for their 3D space exploration game ‘Cosmic Raider’.

"All winners of the Game Dev Challenge got an additional EUR 1,000 to donate to an organisation of their choice which is helping people affected by COVID-19. We are really proud that Antonio and Marco selected Prof Ollert’s vaccine-development project"

says Ralph Marshall from LTS,

The study “RD-Vac SARS-CoV-2” (Rapid Development and Initial Preclinical Evaluation of an Effective Candidate Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2), which had recently been funded through a EUR 50,000 grant under the FNR’s COVID-19 Fast Track Call, aims to develop a vaccine based on the expression of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 antigenic variants in a novel trimeric form, combining antigen delivery with CpG oligodinucleotides adjuvant, which confers strong immune responses both in the young and the elderly. The goal is to develop a vaccine candidate in a six-month time frame, with the confirmed ability to induce a robust immune response in preclinical mouse models.

"Following the cancellation of the final exams of the International Baccalaureate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marco and I were unexpectedly given the chance to participate in the Luxembourg Tech School (LTS) Online Unity GameDev challenge. This was a double satisfaction for us. Not only did we win the second place in the competition, but we have also been given the opportunity to actively contribute to a worthy cause"

says Antonio. "We found Prof Ollert’s approach particularly fascinating, since he aims to develop a vaccine using manufactured proteins resembling parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for antibody generation, rather than using the coronavirus itself. We are extremely grateful to the LTS for their guidance and support and for this truly amazing experience!", he adds. 

"We were very glad to learn that our project had raised the interest and curiosity of these two bright students. Their generous gesture further proves that we need to keep investing in young generations to help them nurture their passion for science and technology"

concludes Prof Markus Ollert, Principal Investigator of the vaccine-development project and Director of the LIH Department of Infection and Immunity (DII)

From left to right: Antonio del Rio, Guillem Montamat (PhD candidate, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, LIH), Prof Markus Ollert (LIH) and Dr Christophe Trefois (LTS representative; LCSB).

Prof Markus OLLERT