A collaboration among scientists from UCLA and other universities in California, Delaware and Germany, as well as a German pharmaceutical company, has singled out a compound that shows promise for treating SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In a series of experiments using different types of cells in lab dishes, the researchers found that berzosertib was effective in blocking the coronavirus’s ability to replicate and did not cause significant harm to cells. Berzosertib, which is licensed by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is being investigated in separate early- and mid-stage clinical trials in combination with chemotherapy as a possible treatment for small-cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer and other types of tumors.
The study, published in the journal Cell Reports, was led by corresponding authors Robert Damoiseaux, a UCLA professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and of bioengineering, and Vaithilingaraja Arumugaswami, a UCLA associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and a member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center. Both are members of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. “Currently, there are no effective small-molecule drug therapies against COVID-19,” said Gustavo Garcia Jr., the study’s first author and a UCLA staff research associate. “This study identified a new potential therapy that could help the global fight against COVID-19 and support populations that have been disproportionately affected by this deadly disease.”
Thermo Fisher Deploys Sensors for Detecting Airborne COVID-19
Thermo Fisher Scientific is rolling out a new device designed to monitor rooms for airborne viruses, including the coronavirus behind COVID-19. The company said its AerosolSense Sampler is designed to help hospitals, nursing homes, schools, offices and other locations surveil high-traffic areas for elevated levels of the pathogen, providing an early-warning layer of screening that can be combined with individual diagnostic tests after the pandemic begins to subside.
The toaster oven-sized machine collects aerosol samples and traps any pathogens on a removable cartridge—with the ability to completely filter the air of a 1,000-square-foot room in under 20 hours—which is then analyzed in a laboratory using Thermo Fisher’s established TaqPath COVID-19 molecular test kit.