HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It could take years before there's a vaccine for the virus. Meanwhile, scientists here in the Valley are working together to develop treatment for COVID-19.
Huntsville Hospital, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and iRepertoire - a diagnostic tech company, have teamed up to develop treatment by studying local patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
"Are they making antibodies that typically inactivate the virus?" asked Dr. Rick Myers (Phd), President and Scientific Director of HudsonAlpha.
It's the question that needs answers as scientists look to treat patients. Infectious Disease Specialist with Huntsville Hospital, Dr. Ali Hassoun, MD, says treatment is different from a vaccine. Treatment is for someone already sick from the virus.
"That [treatment] will try to eradicate and kill the virus. And by doing that my symptoms will get better while I'm infected," says Hassoun.
Myers says blood samples are collected from 5 to 20 patients at Huntsville Hospital. More blood samples are collected at least two more times and a few days apart.
All are tested for antibodies, which help fight the virus.
"The idea is to be able to pick out which of the antibodies of those patients are the ones most likely to be helpful," says Myers.
Myers says the study will be run by Dr. Jian Han, founder of iRepertoire. Dr. Han worked on a similar study on the outbreak in China back in January.
Dr. Hassoun says all aspects of this study are important.
"By combining clinical aspects, as well as lab aspects and research aspects - altogether to get the best out of it to know what would be the treatment," says Hassoun.
The study is expected to start within the next two weeks, and could take a couple months before they get results.