University of Lethbridge researchers work to find COVID-19 treatment

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University of Lethbridge researchers work to find COVID-19 treatment
University of Lethbridge researchers are working to develop a drug treatment for COVID-19. As Quinn Campbell reports, the joint project is bringing together researchers with one common goal: to defeat the virus – Jul 20, 2020

Groundbreaking research is underway at the University of Lethbridge to find a treatment for COVID-19.

“We decided to jump on this opportunity. We can use some of our recent infrastructure and our expertise, as well as proteins from humans,” Canada research chair and associate professor with the U of L, Dr. Trushar Patel, said.

The research will look to inhibit the virus’s ability to replicate by targeting the interactions between viral proteins and the human host cell machinery responsible for replicating the virus.

The research aims to create a drug capable of preventing these interactions.

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“We got a huge group of people together with a common goal where we want to build up some of the molecules,” Patel said. “We want to design some of the molecules that can actually prevent communication between the human protein and the viral protein — this communication is critical for viruses to survive.”

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The two U of L researchers are working with scientists at Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API), a non-profit organization based out of Edmonton.

Dr. Borries Demeler with the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the university, said the joint effort combines equipment and knowledge.

“The reason they contacted us [API] is because we have pretty much the only analytical ultracentrifuge in Canada, here in Lethbridge which provides biophysical research tools that are not available anywhere else,” he said.

The project is receiving $210,000 in grant money from Mitacs, an organization that helps fund student training in biophysics and biochemistry.

The significance of the research is not lost on those behind the microscope who know they are working on a treatment that could one day help their own loved ones.

“We feel this as a responsible, very nerve-wracking project that we want to put all the energy that we have in so that we can come up with something as quickly as possible” Patel said.

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