University of Louisville on the front lines of battling COVID-19 – WLKY Louisville

Posted By on April 30, 2020

Before there was a lockdown, before the first cases of COVID-19 began appearing in Kentucky, the University of Louisville acted."Before any of us knew there was a pandemic coming, our infectious disease experts knew it was. They had ordered the coronavirus and had it already shipped into the regional biocontainment laboratory the university owns and began growing it up, so they could begin testing. And that is work that's still going on," Kevin Gardner, the executive vice president for the university's research and innovation, told WLKY.In fact, the University operates one of just twelve regional biocontainment laboratories in the entire nation, allowing the University of Louisville to play a crucial role in the fight against Covid19. "They were developed about 10 years ago in response to bioterrorism threats and things like that, so these laboratories are built and designed to work with the worst biological agents that exist and coronavirus is a pretty bad one, as we're finding out," Gardner said.According to Gardner, research teams at the university helped develop the COVID-19 testing later approved by the CDC. And later, a combined effort between the university's engineering and dental schools, using 3D technology, led to the creation of a swab for the COVID-19 testing kits. Now in clinical trials, it could help address the shortage of kits as early as next month.There's also the Co-Immunity project, focusing on testing antibodies and developing donor plasma resources. More recently, the university announced a breakthrough that could block COVID-19 from infecting human cells."I came up with an idea I knew about this drug and the protein that bound to it and I had an idea maybe it would stop the virus," said Paula Bates, a professor of medicine at the university and a researcher.Bates said the technology is based on a piece of synthetic DNA that targets and binds with a human protein. Bates and her team previously used the drug in trials for cancer patients, and it was found to be safe, which could fast track approval from the FDA. "We believe we can give this drug to patients. We can achieve a concentration that will not have any side effects but will be very effective at stopping the virus," Bates said.Bates is among the dozens of researchers working long hours and seven-day work weeks. Gardner said the success being achieved at the University of Louisville belongs to everyone."It's not just them, the researchers. We can't do that research if there's not a custodial staff there cleaning and disinfecting. We can't operate without them, everybody's part of that team."The University of Louisville is able to do research thanks to community and corporate partnerships, including a recent donation from the Jewish Heritage Fund. However, donations to continue their work are crucial and can be made here.

Before there was a lockdown, before the first cases of COVID-19 began appearing in Kentucky, the University of Louisville acted.

"Before any of us knew there was a pandemic coming, our infectious disease experts knew it was. They had ordered the coronavirus and had it already shipped into the regional biocontainment laboratory the university owns and began growing it up, so they could begin testing. And that is work that's still going on," Kevin Gardner, the executive vice president for the university's research and innovation, told WLKY.

In fact, the University operates one of just twelve regional biocontainment laboratories in the entire nation, allowing the University of Louisville to play a crucial role in the fight against Covid19.

"They were developed about 10 years ago in response to bioterrorism threats and things like that, so these laboratories are built and designed to work with the worst biological agents that exist and coronavirus is a pretty bad one, as we're finding out," Gardner said.

According to Gardner, research teams at the university helped develop the COVID-19 testing later approved by the CDC. And later, a combined effort between the university's engineering and dental schools, using 3D technology, led to the creation of a swab for the COVID-19 testing kits. Now in clinical trials, it could help address the shortage of kits as early as next month.

There's also the Co-Immunity project, focusing on testing antibodies and developing donor plasma resources.

More recently, the university announced a breakthrough that could block COVID-19 from infecting human cells.

"I came up with an idea I knew about this drug and the protein that bound to it and I had an idea maybe it would stop the virus," said Paula Bates, a professor of medicine at the university and a researcher.

Bates said the technology is based on a piece of synthetic DNA that targets and binds with a human protein. Bates and her team previously used the drug in trials for cancer patients, and it was found to be safe, which could fast track approval from the FDA.

"We believe we can give this drug to patients. We can achieve a concentration that will not have any side effects but will be very effective at stopping the virus," Bates said.

Bates is among the dozens of researchers working long hours and seven-day work weeks. Gardner said the success being achieved at the University of Louisville belongs to everyone.

"It's not just them, the researchers. We can't do that research if there's not a custodial staff there cleaning and disinfecting. We can't operate without them, everybody's part of that team."

The University of Louisville is able to do research thanks to community and corporate partnerships, including a recent donation from the Jewish Heritage Fund. However, donations to continue their work are crucial and can be made here.

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University of Louisville on the front lines of battling COVID-19 - WLKY Louisville

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