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Dartmouth Labs Put COVID-19 Research on the Fast Track

Apr 10, 2020   |   Dartmouth News

A coalition of scientists are working around the clock to improve testing and develop new therapies.

As the novel coronavirus takes its deadly toll, there's potentially life-saving activity going on night and day at Dartmouth.

"Whether developing or deploying new testing strategies, laying the groundwork for antibody-based therapeutics, or contributing personal protection equipment, the Dartmouth research community is already making the fight against this novel coronavirus our own," says Dean Madden, vice provost for research.

Here is one of the many research projects under way:

Hope for Treatment

On the therapeutic front, researchers from Thayer School of Engineering are investigating whether the antibodies that help some people recover from the virus can be turned into medicine for other patients. Jiwon Lee, the Ralph and Marjorie Crump Assistant Professor of Engineering, is an engineer who focuses on the human immune system.

"My lab focuses on developing new technologies that allow us to take blood from people whose immune systems have successfully fought off an infection, and determine the amino acid sequences of the different antibody molecules in the blood," says Lee. "For COVID-19, for example, knowing the antibody sequences enables us to test and determine which antibodies are the most effective at neutralizing or preventing the infection."

Collaborating with a group of clinicians, scientists, and engineers from Dartmouth and the University of Texas at Austin, Lee says his lab is trying to understand antibody responses to COVID-19 and identify antibodies with therapeutic potentials.

In the meantime, he and other Dartmouth researchers are taking the utmost precautions to stay healthy.

"We just cannot get sick," Lee says. "And we cannot delay."

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