UofL researchers might have way to block COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Louisville have developed a technology they think can block the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from infecting human cells.

The technology is based on a piece of synthetic DNA called an “aptamer.” Early tests show that this aptamer may stop viruses, including novel coronavirus, from “hijacking” nucleolin to replicate inside the body.

The aptamer was discovered by UofL’s Paula Bates, John Trent and Don Miller, who have most notably applied it as a potential therapeutic drug against multiple types of cancer. Now Bates is partnering with fellow researcher Kenneth Palmer, director of UofL’s Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases CPM),  to apply the technology to the COViD-19 virus.

“Like many scientists, as soon as I heard about the new coronavirus, I wanted to help and started to think about how my area of research might intersect with coronavirus research efforts,” said Bates, a professor of medicine. “I am fortunate to be at UofL, which is one of the few places in the country where we have the facilities to do experiments using the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

The CPM is one of only 12 regional and two national biocontainment labs in the United States. UofL is looking to fast-track the development of the application for FDA approval.

UofL is providing financial support for COVID-19 research, but additional funds are needed to continue the work over time. Donations specifically for the research can be made online here.