UTMB Research on COVID-19

UTMB Research on COVID-19


Thanks to our unusually strong expertise in coronaviruses (three of our faculty scientists focus on these viruses and many others have extensive coronavirus experience) and our unique high containment facilities, UTMB is at the forefront of the emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak and is already conducting research to understand the disease as well as to develop vaccines and therapeutics. Below is a list of the major research projects underway to study the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the disease called COVID-19).
  1. First reference laboratory in the world (UTMB’s World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses) to distribute the first virus isolate and to distribute FDA-approved viral RNA for diagnostic development and test validation. Additional reagents such as viral antigens are being developed for distribution soon.
  2. Initial studies to determine which cell lines can be used to propagate the SARS-CoV-2 and to understand the effect of interferon, one of the first immune responses, in controlling replication in people. This work has been published:
    • Harcourt J, Tamin A, Lu X, Kamili S, Sakthivel SK, Murray J, Queen K, Tao Y, Paden CR, Zhang J, Li Y, Uehara A, Wang H, Goldsmith C, Bullock HA, Wang L, Whitaker B, Lynch B, Gautam R, Schindewolf C, Lokugamage KG, Scharton D, Plante JA, Mirchandani D, Widen SG, Narayanan K, Makino S, Ksiazek TG, Plante KS, Weaver SC, Lindstrom S, Tong S, Menachery VD, Thornburg NJ. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 from Patient with 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease, United States. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020. CLICK HERE TO READ »
    • Mantlo EK, Bukreyeva N, Maruyama J, Paessler S, Huang C. Potent Antiviral Activities of Type I Interferons to SARS-CoV-2 Infection. bioRxiv. 2020. CLICK HERE TO READ »
  3. Development of a reverse genetic system to determine the effects mutations that occur during the global SARS-CoV-2 spread, which may impact disease progression and transmission, and to speed vaccine and therapeutics development. READ THE LATEST NEWS ON THIS PROJECT HERE »
    Additional Reading:
    • Xie X, Muruato A, Lokugamage KG, Narayanan K, Zhang X, Zou J, Liu J, Schindewolf C, Bopp NE, Aguilar PV, Plante KS, Weaver SC, Makino S, LeDuc JW, Menachery VD, Shi PY. An Infectious cDNA Clone of SARS-CoV-2. Cell Press (pre-proof). 2020. CLICK HERE TO READ »
  4. Development of reagents such as viral antigens and serologic assays for retrospective patient diagnosis and seroprevalence surveys to understand SARS-CoV-2 spread by persons without severe disease, and to evaluate new vaccine candidates.
  5. Development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates using a wide variety of approaches including a new, rapid “plug-and-play” platform
  6. Test the effectiveness of existing medications to suppress infection in cell cultures and discover new medications to treat COVID-19 infection
  7. Testing new monoclonal antibodies as therapeutics to treat COVID-19 patients
  8. Development of several animal models, including mice with human receptors, to reproduce human-like disease for vaccine and therapeutic evaluations and to understand the disease process
  9. Experiments using aged mice to to understand why older persons have a higher risk of severe, life-threatening disease
  10. Experiments to understand the contribution of smoking and vaping on risk for serious illness and death in COVID-19
  11. Development of vaccines and therapeutics to treat comorbid addiction and COVID-19
  12. Studies to understand how the virus replicates in human and animal cells and how the immune response contributes to both disease and recovery, and to compare these factors between the new SARS-CoV-2 and the 2003 SARS-CoV strain
  13. Testing of disinfection methods for N95 masks and other materials medical facilities and research laboratories. This work has been published:
    • Nathen E. Bopp, Donald H. Bouyer, Christopher M. Gibbs, Joan E. Nichols, Corrie A. Ntiforo, and Miguel A. Grimaldo. Multicycle Autoclave Decontamination of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators. Applied Biosafety: Journal of ABSA International. 2020. CLICK HERE TO READ »
  14. Studies to understand better how long the new coronavirus survives in small droplets and aerosols and how this survival impacts transmission
  15. Development of rapid new methods to determine the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus and identify the presence of defective interfering particles that may affect disease severity
  16. Development of a three dimensional artificial human lung model to study SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease
  17. Clinical trial of the antiviral drug Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients
  18. Modeling SARS-Cov-2 spread and amplification locally to anticipate health care demands
  19. Novel informatic methods to predict SARS0CoV-2 receptors, reservoir hosts, and to develop therapeutics and vaccines. This work has been published:
    • Veljkovic V, Vergara J, Segalés J, Paessler S. Use of the informational spectrum methodology for rapid biological analysis of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV: prediction of potential receptor, natural reservoir, tropism and therapeutic/vaccine target. F1000Research. 2020. CLICK HERE TO READ »
  20. Testing the effectiveness of a thermally bonded disinfectant for self-decontamination of fabric against SARS-CoV-2. CLICK HERE TO READ »