Despite the continued spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., researchers are making incredible strides in diagnostics and treatment. Today, we’re going to focus on a few efforts from LST members. 

First, Pfizer and partner BioNTech released data Monday from a German study of their vaccine BNT162b1 that showed it stimulated a virus-specific response from immune cells as well as antibodies. Earlier today, the Trump administration awarded a $1.95 billion contract to Pfizer for up to 600 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine, with the first 100 million doses by December if the vaccine received emergency approval from the FDA. The vaccine would be offered to Americans free of charge.

Next, Knoxville-based EDP Biotech is now a testing resource for local employers. They are running the IgG multiplex test described by manufacturer Quansys Biosciences as “the first planar-based multiplex assay to allow simultaneous detection of human antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 S1 protein, SARS-CoV-2 S2 protein, a negative control (Sheep Fc), and a positive control (anti-human IgG).” EDP Biotech is currently able to run about 600 tests per day but hopes to “ramp up beyond 1,000 a day” according to CEO Eric Mayer.

Last, Vanderbilt’s Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization (CTTC) has accelerated its services for COVID-19 related research. “The only way we can rationally give our researchers’ discoveries a real chance to thrive is by developing a fast-reacting system,” said Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor of CTTC. “Prioritizing the successful completion of COVID-related agreements is a product of our commitment to our high caliber researchers and their projects.”

Here’s a rundown of other developments and stories related to the coronavirus:
  • Scientists at Oak Ridge National Lab have mapped out the structure of a critical protein of the coronavirus. 
  • Results of a large, early-stage human trial of a vaccine created by Oxford University and AstraZeneca showed the vaccine produced antibodies and killer T-cells to combat the infection.
  • HHS launched the National Testing Implementation Forum to gather information on SARS-CoV-2 testing and diagnostics from federal officials and the private sector.
  • Vaccine manufacturers committed to diversity in clinical trials during a major hearing before the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.