Although experts predict it will take at least a year before there is a vaccine for coronavirus, or COVID-19, researchers at the HudsonAlpha campus in Huntsville said a therapeutic for the virus will come much sooner.
"We are much closer than a vaccine. We are talking about months, rather than years, even weeks that we can have these antibodies in hand," said Dr. Jian Han, the founder and chief science officer at iRepertoire.
Dr. Han's research lab is part of a joint effort along with HudsonAlpha and Huntsville Hospital to find a way to effectively treat those who contract coronavirus.
They are conducting a study of the blood of those who test positive to learn more about how the virus interacts with the immune system.
The process will involve testing the blood of one of the participants about seven days after their diagnosis and then again two weeks later.
"At that time, we can get a single cell to study which cell is making the antibody and that way we can harvest the success that makes the patients recover from the infection," said Dr. Han.
Over the next couple of months, Huntsville Hospital will help recruit the roughly 15-30 patients for the study and take the blood samples as well.
"If they have any specific positive findings, then we'll move forward more, and of course HudsonAlpha, in deciding what's the next step," said Dr. Ali Hassoun, the infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital.
Because multiple labs around the country and the world are working on similar studies, Dr. Han expects that there could be multiple, effective ways to treat those with coronavirus.
"There are other companies that that we know, Chinese, Japanese, European companies, working with a similar approach. So I think that fighting COVID-19 may be, before a vaccine becomes available, there are going to be different options to treating the disease," said Dr. Han.
Dr. Hassoun added that as the process goes on, they will be publishing the findings of their work so that other labs can learn from their study.