Vaccine and faster COVID-19 test in the works at UT Health Science Center at Tyler


TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler are working on projects to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

Three projects aim to advance diagnostic test development, vaccine development, and patient treatment.

Guiohua Yi, Ph.D. is a virologist with a background in cancer and HIV research. When COVID-19 made its way to the U.S., his studies switched to finding a treatment.

Currently, certain hospitals have the ability to administer COVID-19 tests in as little as 45-minutes while others don’t return results for several days.

His goal is to find a test that can be conducted faster, more efficiently, and with higher accuracy than current methods.

Dr. Yi’s second project aims to develop a vaccine for prevention and saving lives. Collaborating with researchers in El Paso, the proposed vaccination will utilize antiviral antibodies that activate the immune system.

“There is no current cure for the virus and the best protection that we can have against the virus is the development of a very potent vaccine,” he said.

While there is no vaccine currently, many researchers and health professionals are discovering ways to treat patients who have tested positive for the virus.

The Z-Pack, Azithromycin, was discovered here in Tyler. Now, it is being paired with Hydroxychloroquine to help those suffering.

“So far the results are suggestive and in some testing where it’s been done and less suggestive in others, so the testing needs to be completed in solid clinical trails,” said Dr. Yi.

A third project is part of over 15 years of research conducted by Professor Sreerama Shetty, Ph.D., in collaboration with Senior Vice President for Research and Dean for the school of Medical Biological Sciences Steven Idell, MD, Ph.D.

A compound called LTI-03 was discovered as being able to prevent lung scarring in preclinical testing. Now the compound is being tested for potential application in COVID-19 patients.

Research shows that lung injury and scarring in COVID-19 patients is similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, and middle east respiratory Syndrom, MERS.

LTI-03 can be administered through inhalation and will soon be tested to see if it can prevent early lung inflammation and scarring. Should this research yield successful, the compound could be made available for clinical trials and then provide treatment for patients afflicted with severe COVID-19 lung injury.

Now, more than ever, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler’s commitment to ground-breaking research stands to provide answers on a global scale to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Tirelessly, UT Health Science Center at Tyler’s researchers are working to help patients, diagnose COVID-19, prevent the infection through vaccine development and treat patients if they develop severe COVID-19 pneumonia. At few times in our history has research been as important as it is now, and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler investigators, like research professionals across the nation, are deeply committed to the fight to restore patient and community health, as well as normalcy in this unprecedented time.

UT Health Science Center

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