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VUMC team’s COVID-19 research featured on “60 Minutes”

Apr. 12, 2021, 10:51 AM


by Bill Snyder

James Crowe, MD, and members of his lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who have pioneered rapid development of monoclonal antibody treatments for life-threatening viral diseases including COVID-19, were featured Sunday on a CBS News “60 Minutes” segment titled “The Last Pandemic .”

Challenged by the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense, in 2019 Crowe and his colleagues in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center isolated antibodies from a survivor of a dangerous Zika virus infection, and in 78 days had developed a potential antibody-based treatment against it.

Then COVID-19 hit. Urged on by DARPA to work faster and find potentially lifesaving antibodies in the blood of COVID-19 survivors in just 60 days, Crowe’s team quarantined in the lab and worked round the clock.

In a record 25 days, according to “60 Minutes,” Crowe’s lab had delivered a potential monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 to the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for further development. The resulting investigational therapy, called AZD7442, is now in late-stage clinical trials.

“This is the new normal,” said Crowe, holder of the Ann Scott Carell Chair and professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology. “Ideally, using the latest in RNA technology, “we would start from a blood sample from a survivor and … be giving you an injection of the cure within the 60 days.”

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