There are more than 800 clinical trials occurring right now in order to find COVID-19 treatments or vaccines, and scores are happening here in the Northwest. But there are important steps before biomedical researchers reach this crucial stage of clinical trials.
Biomedical researchers are working at a rapid pace to understand the novel coronavirus, how it spreads, how it infects, who it infects and why it progresses in such a deadly way. They are working at breakneck speed to find effective diagnostic tools and treatments, to see if other drugs might be useful and to find new ways to stop the disease progression. They are working to develop vaccines that will be our best solution to stopping the pandemic.
But before anyone can be treated or vaccinated, those medicines go through a lengthy process of lab research, humane animal modeling and human trials to ensure safety and efficacy.
Think of it as four steps. Step One starts with the chemistry lab. Biomedical researchers are trying to identify a molecule or chemical that will stop COVID-19. Step Two uses humane animal modeling, typically on mice, to see if what was developed in the lab works on living organisms. Step Three involves small human trials to ensure the drug doesn’t cause more harm than good. And the final step is larger human trials to test if the drug works.
Every academic research university, hospital and nonprofit research institution in the Northwest has joined this fight. Researchers at Washington State University, the University of Washington and Whitworth University, to name just a few, are laser focused on this new emergency. Just like the doctors and nurses on the frontlines, the hard work and dedication of these biomedical researchers saves lives and ensures we have a healthier community.
I encourage you to say #ThanksResearch to our local universities or research institutions and the people working tirelessly to find the keys that will allow the world to return to normal.
Ken Gordon is the executive director of the Northwest Association of Biomedical Research, which is dedicated to recognizing the contributions of ethically conducted biomedical research
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