Summary by: Arooba Ahmed ('23)
Viral spreading has become quite accelerated, therefore Dr. Lipkin’s group has tried to develop more sensitive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) triplex assays to study viruses. One assay has been approved by FDA, and another that looks into influenza and SARS-CoV-2 is still being developed.
They have also purchased three additional resources using funding from Amazon so they can support clinical trials without worrying about clinical care. With their donations, they have proposed four phased clinical trials. They have 450 subjects: healthcare workers, people who have had close contact with patients who are positive but are uninfected, and subjects who are infected and have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. Some patients will receive convalescent plasma (which is blood containing antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients) and others will receive controls. The protocol they are using is the same one as developed by Johns Hopkins.
Another one of their studies looks at the effects of close contact with infected individuals. In addition, they are supporting drug repurposing and research looking into the time course for the decay of the virus and killing it using far UVC radiation.
They are also looking into new and better blood based (serological) assays using mapping with linear peptides. This will help improve diagnostic tests that will provide insights into whether a person has been exposed to the pathogen.
In collaboration with another group, they also found that they could differentiate between the viral structures of infected and uninfected populations very nicely. Finally, they also found that epitopes (part of an antigen) show differently in acute versus chronic disease which shows that you don’t get responses as early as you may like.