Vanquishing viruses is a Blazer tradition

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vaccine retro streamIn 1977, the world’s first effective treatment for a viral disease occurred at University Hospital. Richard Whitley, M.D., and Charles Alford developed vidarabine, the first drug to treat encephalitis caused by the herpes simplex virus. Their achievement opened the door to the whole field of antiviral therapy, and today antivirals are a vital part of the pharmacological arsenal, used to treat influenza, HIV and many other conditions.

Whitley, now a Distinguished Professor of infectious diseases, is still doing groundbreaking treatment research as principal investigator of a $37.5 million, five-year U19 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Centers of Excellence for Translational Research to study and develop treatment for high-priority emerging infections. That research helped develop the investigational drug remdesivir, which is being used to treat select infected patients in the United States and China who have been affected by COVID-19.

Read through more stories from the UAB Reporter to see how more investigators across UAB have mobilized their research interests to help us better understand and fight coronavirus.

Tackling his third pandemic, UAB researcher gets up close with coronaviruses in order to kill them

Tackling his third pandemic, UAB researcher gets up close with coronaviruses in order to kill them

Virologist Kevin Harrod, Ph.D., is the institution’s resident expert on SARS viruses. His lab is handling biological validation for innovative drug-repurposing studies supported by the School of Medicine’s Urgent COVID-19 research fund.

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Researchers are creating a coronavirus showdown to settle pressing antibody problems

Researchers are creating a coronavirus showdown to settle pressing antibody problems

Microbiologists Troy Randall and Frances Lund are building key proteins from several coronaviruses to study antibody cross-reactivity and other crucial questions in this project supported through UAB’s urgent COVID-19 research fund.

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Where are the good antibodies against COVID-19? UAB project aims to find out

Where are the good antibodies against COVID-19? UAB project aims to find out

In this project supported through UAB’s urgent COVID-19 research fund, Professor Randall Davis aims to identify antibodies that block SARS-CoV-2 from entering human cells — information that could guide convalescent plasma therapy and more.

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Helpful viruses may unlock the secrets of coronavirus antibodies

Helpful viruses may unlock the secrets of coronavirus antibodies

In this project supported through UAB’s urgent COVID-19 research fund, Assistant Professor Benjamin Larimer, Ph.D., adapts his lab’s work on phage display — normally used to identify new cancer treatments — to overcome limitations of antibody and vaccine testing.

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Cytokine storm treatment for coronavirus patients is focus of first-in-US study

Cytokine storm treatment for coronavirus patients is focus of first-in-US study

Trial to rapidly identify and treat the immune overreaction that may be behind some cases of severe COVID-19 is made possible through UAB Medicine’s Urgent COVID-19 Clinical Research and Laboratory Research Fund.

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