An antiviral approach to Coronavirus in development at HMRI

Mar 11 2020

Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett

With COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on the incline to pandemic status, medical researchers have pivoted to find a treatment.

While there’s a strong focus on developing a vaccine, Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett is quietly working on an anti-viral solution.

Associate Professor Bartlett is a viral immunologist who has devoted his career to the interplay between humans and viruses – and believes that anti- viral drugs will have an important role to play controlling the spread and severity of COVID-19 induced disease.

What is needed is is an anti-viral drug solution that is flexible and can be rapidly adjusted to deal with mutations to the original virus, that can be deployed as a treatment.

Our experience with influenza (seasonal and pandemic) highlights the need for a multi-pronged (anti-viral and vaccine) approach to limit spread of the virus and treat those unlucky enough to become infected – particularly those at greatest risk of severe illness such as the very young, elderly or immune suppressed, where a vaccine may be less protective.

With seed funding from HMRI, Nathan has been working on an anti-viral for COVID-19, and believes he’s a few weeks from generating data to support the effectiveness of his approach.

“We have been working with related, less pathogenic strains of coronavirus for some time. Using our established human airway cell infection model we will be able to quickly determine if our treatment approach (which can easily be tailored to COVID-19) has potential as a treatment.”

Read more about Nathan’s work with the common cold virus

Listen to Nathan speak about his work with Kia Handley on ABC Newcastle

For up to date information and advice about the current COVID-19 situation please visit the Australian Government Department of HealthNSW Health and World Health Organisation websites.

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