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ENCORE: University Of Idaho Researchers Search For Coronavirus Cure

Ted S. Warren
AP Images
Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.


This interview originally aired Apr. 23, 2020.


Almost as soon as COVID-19 was identified as a unique threat caused by a particular strain of the coronavirus, researchers around the world got to work. From finding a way to test for the presence of the the virus, to finding a vaccine that will prevent the disease, there’s much researchers have already learned and still more they need to learn to solve the pandemic. 

Idaho researchers are now joining the fray. 

Scientists at the University of Idaho are working on a cure for the novel coronavirus, with a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. They’re aiming to create a drug that would attach to human cell receptors and shield them from the disease. 

"Our therapeutics that we hope to develop would protect against all future coronaviruses that would potentially use this same receptor," said University of Idaho virologist Paul Rowley on Idaho Matters Thursday.  

He said this potential cure would protect humans from multiple viruses including COVID-19 and another SARS.

Molecular modeling specialist and professor Jagdish Patel said the U of I research will take longer than developing a vaccine, but it could be a longer-term solution. 

“Our initial timeline to come up with a lead is a year, which is fairly quickly for academia."

After finding a lead, Patel says he expects another 6 to 7 years of drug development. 

Rowley says although a cure may be a ways off, modern technology and increased funding to combat future pandemics means scientists are working faster than ever.

As COVID-19 cases spread through the U.S. and Idaho, we’re committed to keeping you updated and informed. You can get updated info on cases, closures and how to stay healthy at any time on our Coronavirus news blog.

Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters

Member support is what makes local COVID-19 reporting possible. Support this coverage here.



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Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.
Molly Wampler is a newsroom intern at Boise State Public Radio. Originally from Berkeley, California, she just graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Washington state. There, Molly worked for her university's newspaper but is stoked to try her hand at and learn all there is to learn about radio journalism.