Vanderbilt is involved in another major pandemic development
Vanderbilt researchers made important discoveries that drove the development of a new antiviral pill for COVID-19 patients.
- Pharmaceutical company Merck announced plans last week to apply for approval of the pill as it halves the risk of hospitalization or death during a clinical trial.
Why it matters: Vanderbilt University Medical Center emerged as a leading force in the pandemic – with a little help by Dolly Parton.
- Sustained pandemic successes could stimulate the city’s largest employer more funds and high-profile projects.
Details: The antiviral drug is another turning point. It was developed in collaboration with researchers from Emory University and UNC-Chapel Hill, with subsequent development by Merck and Ridgeback Therapeutics.
- Investigators at VUMC Professor Mark Denison’s laboratory found evidence that the antiviral agent known as molnupiravir might be effective against COVID.
- Subsequent animal studies showed that the drug prevented severe lung damage in infected mice.
Between the lines: Denison told Axios that he and his team had spent decades researching coronaviruses.
- His lab studied molnupiravir and remdesivir years before they became crucial tools against the pandemic. Denison had to explain and justify his research focus even to skeptics.
- “It’s not science fiction. You don’t go to a lab and come back with an answer in 24 hours,” Denison said.
- Denison’s lab continues to study molnupiravir, remdesivir, and new drugs, while also researching the effectiveness of various drug combinations.
Context: VUMC has been involved on several fronts in the fight against COVID-19.
What you say: “VUMC has played a pivotal role throughout the pandemic by conducting vaccine studies, treating COVID patients, advising on health policy and now assisting in the development of a COVID pill,” Mayor John Cooper said in a statement to Axios. “Nashville is fortunate to have VUMC in our community.”
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