U of L researchers using computers in schools to help find new drug to fight COVID-19 Wednesday, Apr 15 2020 

By Matthew Keck — 

University of Louisville researchers are using computers from schools across Kentucky to aid their search to find a drug that fights COVID-19. These computers are a part of DataseamGrid, which was developed to support research, education and workforce development in these schools.

Deputy director of basic and translational research at U of L Health – James Graham Brown Cancer Center, John Trent is helping conduct this research. By using virtual screening on the DataseamGrid, Trent and researchers are able to identify drugs that can potentially fight COVID-19.

“We’re applying all of the methods we use for cancer drug discovery to the new COVID-19 proteins that have been dried recently,” said Trent. He said that they have retooled their research to target these new proteins.

Trent and his team began this research in mid-March to help identify drugs and compounds that could help in treating or preventing COVID-19. Up to 80 percent of the computation used for the research comes from the DataseamGrid.

Their first approach in this research is to test 2,000 drugs that are already on the market currently. In addition, they will be testing 9,000 investigational drugs and nutraceuticals that have been tested and may be the most effective against the virus.

“We take a library of small molecules and we see individually on a computer, which one fits into the place where we want to block particular activities,” said Trent.

The molecular part of this research involves screening 37 million molecules to see which ones target the protein in SARS-CoV-2. This testing could help develop a new drug to treat COVID-19, but would have to be approved by the FDA.

“For the immediate approach, we are testing drugs that already are approved by the FDA or have been tested in humans. If we find activity with those drugs, we could get them into patient trials a lot quicker,” Trent said. “However, these drugs obviously were designed for something else and they may not have the same efficacy of a very selective drug.”

They have identified 30 potentially effective drugs that may treat the virus. These drugs are being tested in the U of L Center for Preventive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases (CPM).

If any of those drugs are found to be effective at CPM, they will be moved into the next phase of testing.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville 

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U of L processing more coronavirus test results Thursday, Apr 9 2020 

By Matthew Keck — 

The University of Louisville has increased its efforts with coronavirus testing to help fight the fatal pandemic.

Researchers at U of L are processing test results from 12 different hospitals, U of L Campus Health and four outpatient clinics in the Louisville area. As of April 1, they have processed 1,797 tests, with more than 1,000 of them coming from Norton Healthcare.

Out of the 1,797 tests thus far, there have been 204 positive results.

U of L executive vice president for research and innovation Kevin Gardner said they now have to capacity to test up to 1,000 cases per day. Other U of L researchers have put their duties on hold to devote their time to fighting this virus.

Last week, U of L Health opened the first drive-thru testing in Kentucky. As a part of this effort, the drive-thru testing will be processing up to 200 cases per day.

According to Gardner, U of L’s efforts are producing test results within 24 hours. This quick turnaround allows hospitals to isolate patients and healthcare providers with COVID-19. Along with that, they can move others out of isolation, saving protective medical equipment that is low across the state.

This processing is also an effort to help researchers answer questions about the deadly COVID-19. They are hoping to find how the virus has spread, how it progresses and who gets it. U of L is also working on long-term approaches to the virus.

Kenneth Palmer, director of U of L’s Center for Preventive Medicine, is testing potential treatments, one of which was developed at U of L in partnership with the National Cancer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh.

Support for this research includes $500,000 in funding from U of L, but the university is asking for those able to make a donation for further support.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L research funding highest since 2012 Friday, Jul 19 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville announced its most successful year of securing research funding since 2012 on July 18. The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation (EVPRI) showed preliminary numbers that U of L faculty received $152 million in competitive awards last fiscal year. This is a $14 million increase from the last year.

The EVPRI is responsible for this increase. “We provided grant writing and preparation support on a select number of grants, which increased the competitiveness of some grant applications,” said Robert Keynton, U of L’s interim executive vice president for research and innovation.

From 2018 to 2019, U of L conducted research on e-cigarettes, gum disease, robots and sexual assault. The grants received made this type of research possible for the university.

“This is great news for our community and those touched by U of L’s research in medicine, education, engineering, art and countless other disciplines,” Keynton said. “Our faculty work tirelessly to secure the funding needed to explore, test and translate that research, so it can change, improve and even save lives.”

Among the projects that received grants:

  • $18.1 million/5 years from the National Institutes of Health for a biomedical research center. Professor Nigel Cooper in Anatomical Science/Neurobiology runs the center. The main purpose of the center is to build a capacity for bioinformatics to serve the needs of Kentucky genomics researchers. Bioinformatics is a field that develops software to better understand biological data.
  • $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to develop a small additive manufacturing platform using microrobots and 3D printing. Speed School of Engineering professor Dan Popa secured the grant. Popa directs the Next Generation Systems robotics lab.
  • $1.5 million from the Kentucky Department of Education to support systems for improving students’ academic and behavioral outcomes in every Kentucky school district. College of Education and Human Development faculty Terry Scott received the grant.

To help U of L stay competitive in research fields the EVPRI plans to continue support of the internal grant programs in place. Additionally, they plan to add a new program to support multidisciplinary team projects across the university.

All of the research U of L departments did were funded by grants. U of L faculty received a preliminary total of 950 grants from federal and state governments along with private sources. Keynton said that the U of L School of Medicine received the majority of extramural funding.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville

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