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UMass Medical School’s research achievements in virology, immunology, host response, drug design and advanced therapeutics support an accelerated approach to crucial new research projects aimed at COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2.

Investigators listed here are using expertise and insight developed while working on understanding and treating some of the world’s most challenging diseases. Successful research programs at UMass Medical School have developed vaccines or antiviral drugs for viruses such as HIV, Ebola, influenza and RSV; other UMMS labs are world leaders in the design and testing of new approaches to therapeutics, which they are now applying to SARS-CoV-2.

 

COVID-19 Research – Areas of Focus

 

Clinical Trials

Current and upcoming clinical trials include:

  • a controlled trial of the drug remdesivir in ICU patients;
  • an expanded access trial of the remdesivir funded by the manufacturer Gilead;
  • a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the protease inhibitor favipiravir;
  • an observational study of maternal-fetal transmission of SARS-CoV-2;
  • a trial of a pediatric antiviral drug; and
  • a trial of convalescent plasma infusion to determine if it’s possible to give patients anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody immunity passively

     Learn more about the researchers involved in clinical trials

     For more information on clinical trials, visit the Conquering Diseases
     website
.

Diagnostics and Vaccine Development

 In their efforts to prevent new cases of COVID-19, researchers are:

  • developing and testing vaccine candidates for COVID-19 by adapting virus-like particles previously found to treat respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV;
  • developing multivalent self-assembling nanoparticles that can trigger the formation of antibodies in patients to prevent the coronavirus from infecting cells;
  • conducting basic virology studies on the interactions between SARS-CoV-2 and cells in the airway and lungs; and
  • investigating using a two-part, DNA primer vaccine with a protein boost for SARS-CoV-2.

      Learn more about the researchers involved in diagnostics
      and vaccine development

Drug Design and Therapeutics

In their efforts toward developing treatments for COVID-19, researchers are working to:

  • identify and design antiviral drugs for SARS-CoV-2, using high-throughput drug screening and innovative structure-based drug design;
  • study and analyze the virologic mechanism of COVID-19 infection, to understand what makes it unique and why it might be susceptible to antiviral drugs like chloroquine;
  • explore rAAV-based recombinant vaccines for COVID-19 with the hope of developing vectors capable of continually expressing soluble inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2;
  • investigate the concept of delivering a cocktail of siRNA and antisense RNA oligonucleotides specific for SARS-CoV-2 to macrophages and epithelial cells in the lungs; and
  • develop viable mechanisms for delivering small interfering RNAs (siRNA) to the lungs, which can significantly reduce the expression of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genes.

    Learn more about the researchers involved in drug design and therapeutics

Host Response

 In exploration of host response to SARS-CoV-2, researchers are:

  • applying tools designed to define critical host susceptibility factors for influenza infection to SARS-CoV-2 infection;
  • investigating how the innate immune response to the novel coronavirus causes some individuals to die from an overwhelming cytokine storm, or the release of small proteins that affect cell interaction;
  • studying the age-specific differences in immune responses and pathology of SARS-CoV-2 infection; and
  • using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools to define the virus and host genetic factors that define disease susceptibility.

     Learn more about the researchers involved in host response

Greater Worcester COVID-19 Community Health Survey underway

Greater Worcester COVID-19 Community Health Survey underway

UMass Medical School is conducting a community-facing survey in Worcester and six surrounding communities to assess how COVID-19 has affected ongoing day-to-day needs and help localities target relief efforts.

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