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COVID-19 Research in Chemistry

COVID-19Dr. Babak Borhan - Using a combined experimental and computational approach, Dr. Borhan is a working on the feasibility of using Protein Binding Element that disrupt virus attachment and RNA aptamers that are targeted for the RNA sequence in COVID, in an aerosol delivery system that could competitively bind and neutralize infections.  Thereby reducing titers to allow the immune system a chance to recover and fight. 


Dr. Elad Harel - Dr. Harel’s lab is developing an ultra-sensitive hyper-spectral imaging platform for broadband (far infrared to ultraviolet) standoff detection for spectral analysis of blood and identification of biomolecules on the skin or those expelled during breathing.  With single-molecule sensitivity, this technology could directly detect the presence of viruses such as COVID-19 without physical contact.


Dr. Jian Hu - The Hu lab has a project attempting to determine the structure of the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein of COVID-19 and to use high quality crystals for fragment-based drug discovery. The RBD is the only domain for interaction with ACE2, the receptor on human cell surface. Blocking the RBD-ACE2 interaction is a strategy to prevent virus entry into human cells, which would be a cure for COVID-19 infection. 


Dr. Xuefei Huang - In collaboration with Drs. Dohun Pyeon (MMG) and Brett Etchebarne (Emergency Medicine), the Huang group is working on the development of vaccines against COVID-19.  The Huang lab is synthesizing various vaccine constructs and will test whether they can elicit potent antibody responses against COVID-19. The effects of antibodies produced on reducing COVID-19 infections will be evaluated in cells and in animal models.


Dr. David Weliky - The Weliky group works on mechanism of enveloped virus membrane fusion proteins. While their research has been focused on HIV and influenza virus proteins, they are now looking to apply the same approach to the study of coronavirus fusion proteins.


Dr. Angela Wilson - Dr. Wilson’s group is investigating the interactions of SARS-CoV-2 with a number of small molecule inhibitors using computational chemistry methods.