VSU’s research team discovers effective treatment for COVID-19

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 11:05 AM CDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - While many felt like the world stopped last year, scientists began the race to find treatments and a cure for COVID-19.

A Valdosta State University (VSU) team, initially working on a Tuberculosis treatment, switched gears when the pandemic hit.

Long hours were spent at the lab, developing something that will help fight the virus.

Eventually, they created a COVID-19 treatment.

It’s one they say shows promise in reducing the overall viral load in an infected person.

“One day I’m in the lab and I’m like, ‘okay I’m going to help these 2.3 billion people but they’re not in the U.S. and now I’m trying to make a treatment just so I can go see my grandma kind of thing,’” said Jenu Mari Thomas-Richardson, research team leader.

Thomas-Richardson began working with Dr. Thomas Manning, a VSU chemistry professor, three years ago.

She and Manning were researching tuberculosis when the pandemic hit.

“We pivoted and the reason for that, we were developing methods to attack the TB bacteria deep in the lungs so that worked and now we just pivoted to using a similar approach to attacking the viral load associated with COVID that was deep in the lungs,” said Manning.

The research team consisting of students, a professor, and international collaborators, have been working in this lab since last March. They tell us results for the treatment have been positive with human data.

Manning said deaths lowered from 14 percent to 2 percent.

Those published findings come from an Iranian doctor, testing on patients.

A Mississippi doctor also tested it on 83 sick patients.

Manning said some patients were cured or were in the hospital for a shorter time.

“I believe it’s a game-changer in many different ways,” said Thomas-Richardson.

Thomas-Richardson said the treatment and the way it’s delivered, can be used for other lung-related diseases.

She says it shows how medicine can be given in more creative ways.

Manning said it’s been an exciting project.

He hopes it will reach the global market.

Their goal was to provide something inexpensive that showed results.

“So worldwide, it’s still a problem and with these knew strands popping up, it’s more easily transmittable and have higher toxicity. It’s a problem and coronavirus isn’t new. It’s been around in different forms for decades, so this is not going to be a one-and-done type of this, that’s our opinion. That’s why we are going to keep pushing ahead on it,” said Manning.

The FDA must approve the solution and funding for it.

Clinical trials happen next.

They’re now working on business plans and pitching to investors.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.

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