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Gray Matters

Uncovering the Science Behind COVID-19 Treatments and Vaccines

Fall 2020
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How will humanity overcome COVID-19? Whether we develop a vaccine or find a drug to treat infected people, our survival will likely depend on the basic science being done in labs like the ones at Michigan Medicine. In this video, part of the Michigan Medicine Office of Development’s Well Aware series, researchers explain the various basic science approaches they’re using to fighting COVID-19, including efforts to discover both drugs to treat infection and vaccines to prevent infection.

Researchers at the U-M Center for Drug Repurposing have used machine vision to analyze 1.5 million images of the virus, a gargantuan task that would have been impossible without artificial intelligence. This process allows them to see which drugs, such as remdesivir, are effective at killing SARS-COV-2. In another lab, researchers used artificial intelligence to discover that six FDA-approved drugs, including a B vitamin supplement, have the potential to treat COVID-19.

On the vaccine side of things, COVID-19 researchers are working to create vaccines that are fundamentally different from common vaccines, such as those for measles and influenza. One of these newer types of vaccines uses other viruses as delivery systems to bring the gene for the SARS-COV-2 spike protein into the body. Others use mRNA and nanoparticles to stimulate the immune response.

Watch the full video to gain more insight into both the traditional and the groundbreaking technologies that are being used at Michigan Medicine to fight the pandemic.