The Rebound: Important COVID-19 research being done at UK

Posted at 7:21 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 07:53:21-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — We can support local restaurants, social distance and applaud our health care workers, but a vaccine, a cure for COVID-19 is what our society truly needs to recover.

"This is a huge problem for the world. It's not just a problem for Kentucky, it's a problem for the world," said Ken Campbell, Ph.D., director of the CCTS biospecimens core at the University of Kentucky.

Right in our own backyard, at the University of Kentucky, there are brilliant minds at work, doing important research toward an eventual vaccine.

Campbell explained, "We've got scientists at the University of Kentucky who are trying to develop better tests to try and work out who's got the disease. The anti-body test is the one that's getting a lot of attention because then you can see who's had the disease as well."

Campbell is the director of the newly created COVID-19 biobank at UK. The biobank is like a library, but instead of being filled with books, it is filled with specimens from patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

"Things like a drip of blood, exhale breath, and then we collect those specimens and give them to scientists who will then use them to help fight COVID, " Campbell said.

The team got the biobank up and running in just two weeks, something biobank manager, Marietta Barton-Baxter, said would normally take about 18 months.

"I have never been involved anything obviously of this magnitude as far as the pandemic and the urgency of getting things up and running so quickly, " said Barton-Baxter, CCRC.

The specimens are collected with no additional burden to the patient or the medical staff. By being able to access these types of materials, researchers can develop better testing methods, therapies and yes, eventually a vaccine. However, they warn that will take months and large-scale clinical trials.

Perhaps the most crucial part of this process is the patient themselves because they are the ones who hold the key to the cure. Proving, even in the medical world, the only way we will get through this and truly on the road to the rebound is together.

Barton-Baxter said, "It may not be able to help them directly, but what they are doing for the future patients is absolutely amazing. It's the key to us being able to figure out the additional testing that we need to do and the additional treatments and ultimately a vaccine."