New treatment in development at Duke shows promise against COVID-19

ByLaura Browne via WTVD logo
Monday, July 25, 2022
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New Duke technology shows promise in treating COVID-19

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new treatment in development at Duke University successfully makes use of CRISPR gene-editing technology to prevent COVID-19 infections for the first time.

This could be used to broadly treat various COVID-19strains, regardless of any mutation, according to lead researcher Qianben Wang, Professor of Pathology at Duke University School of Medicine.

The study, which showed promise in mice, focuses on the enzyme cathepsin L which can be found in the lungs and can allow the virus to take over host cells. Using the technology, the treatment knocks down the mRNA expression of the enzyme, preventing infection.

Wang said the treatment stands apart from others as it does not require antibody production and instead prevents the virus from entering the cells altogether.

"This is a major breakthrough for a new strategy to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2, the infection because the current COVID-19 vaccine - they need the people to develop the antibody and our strategy does not need the people to develop the antibody to neutralize the virus," Wang said.

The treatment is delivered intravenously, though Wang said they hope to redevelop it to be ingested through inhalation.

The effects of the treatment remain temporary, and Wang said it could be used for preventative measures such as before traveling or being in the presence of large crowds.