Steadman Philippon Research Institute Working to Find New Testing Methods for COVID-19
Mar 30, 2020
Scientists at SPRI searching for rapid, cost-effective and accurate new tests with focus on asymptomatic people who are unknowingly carrying the virus
VAIL, Colo. – The quest for groundbreaking research at Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) is now focused on the urgent challenge the world is facing with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). While scientists and medical experts around the globe search for vaccines and other ways to treat the rapidly spreading virus, SPRI Chief Scientific Officer Johnny Huard, Ph.D. and his team of scientists are pursuing better and faster ways to test people for the virus.
SPRI is working to expedite research and testing of potential new methods used to test individuals for the virus. The focus of the testing is on individuals who have no idea they have contracted COVID-19.
Huard has a few potential new testing options in development, with research that is ongoing and not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We have a growing number of people in our communities that are asymptomatic,” said Huard. “Those people unwittingly are the real problem because they think they are healthy and are not.
“We want to be able to test people before they show any symptoms and do what we can to deter the spread of the virus,” continued Huard. “We must find tests that are done quickly and accurately and in a cost-effective manner.”
As a prolific and award-winning scientist for many years, Huard understands that these times call for urgency, creativity and collaboration.
“In a time of crisis, people come together,” said Huard. “This is when many scientists and those in our field do their finest work. Some of the biggest scientific discoveries are made in challenging times. Sometimes you have to be ahead of the curve in searching for new methods of testing and treating new viruses and illnesses. People are up against the wall. You need scientists and researchers to think outside of the box, come together and find something to improve the safety of our patients, doctors and staff members.
“We’re not trying to find a cure for COVID-19,” said Huard. “We are trying to find a way to detect the virus. We need a quick, inexpensive method.”
SPRI is one of the world’s premier centers for medical research, known in the fields of sports medicine and orthopaedics. The push to develop a COVID-19 test is consistent with SPRI’s efforts since Huard’s arrival in 2015 to expand its scope and advance research related to cancer, aging, regenerative and translational medicine.
“What has always set us apart is the way we can seamlessly and quickly take research advancements at SPRI and translate them to benefit patients,” said Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of The Steadman Clinic and SPRI. “Our goal is to develop new testing procedures sooner rather than later. Our world-class team is working 24 hours a day to find solutions. Timing is very important. We need something now.”
Huard understands this is an urgent work in progress.
“We are following the rules and regulations of the FDA and CDC,” added Huard. “Once we are fully confident in the new tests, we are hopeful the FDA will respond quickly with its approval.”