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Montana lab joins race for coronavirus treatment

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 2/11/20

Hamilton, Montana’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a National Institutes of Health affiliate, has allocated some 10 scientists to study the Wuhan virus, aka the novel coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of 910 people and infected roughly 40,000 around the globe. The virus, which emerged in December 2019 in London-sized Wuhan, China, refreshed fears of a global pandemic, especially for those alive during the 2003 SARS outbreak; 774 people were killed and 8,000 infected by SARS, meaning the novel coronavirus is less deadly but decidedly more infectious. Emmie de Wit is leading the investigation at the lab, and told the U.S. News and World Report, “We are trying to find an antiviral that has already been used to treat other viruses … If we can find one that works, it’s easier to move forward quickly versus developing a totally different drug that would be specifically designed for this virus,” adding the treatment would be vital in case the virus “blows up” in the U.S. Other tests include the virus’s ability to survive on surfaces and the means by which the virus binds to cells, with a tentative animal testing model to follow.

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