Everything we did was to predict the next outbreak. Yet scientists werent prepared for COVID-19. Why? – Longview Daily News

Posted: May 25, 2020 at 11:45 pm

Others at the center, which coordinates research at eight universities, are reviewing past work on drugs that showed potential against the SARS epidemic in 2002 and the MERS outbreak in 2012. Both diseases are also caused by coronaviruses.

At some point, though, scientists at the center and across the country will need to focus on future threats and break new ground.

You can make a lot of movement fast, based on what you know, Satchell said. But at some point, you hit a wall where you have to discover new things.

Andy Mesecar needs a weekend off.

An expert in biochemistry and gene therapy, hes worked seven-day weeks for the last few months, racing to find a drug for patients with COVID-19 while teaching at Purdue University and submitting daily reports to the National Institutes of Health. The center at Northwestern has funded his work since 2018.

Mesecar has a manuscript under review in a scientific journal on how a drug approved to treat hepatitis C could be modified to potentially treat COVID-19. His lab is one of the leading centers studying coronaviruses, and he and his team have dedicated nearly two decades to the research. But that was still not enough to rapidly create an effective therapy specific to COVID-19.

With a background in biochemistry and structural biology, Mesecar started out as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, studying enzymes that could fight cancer. He got into infectious diseases after the anthrax attacks in the weeks after 9/11. Then, he pivoted to studying enzymes that could be used against SARS when it surfaced in November 2002.

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Everything we did was to predict the next outbreak. Yet scientists werent prepared for COVID-19. Why? - Longview Daily News

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