MSM Researchers Explore Natural Products to Fight COVID-19
In April 2017, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)President and Dean, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice along with Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth, led a group of faculty, research scientists, and staff from the two HBCU medical schools to Senegal. During the trip, they had a chance to get a first-hand look at how traditional African medicine is saving the lives of women living with HIV and the medicine’s potential to stop the virus dead in its tracks.
The goal of this research is to test the efficacy and safety of natural herbal extracts that can be used as a treatment for infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Vincent Craig Bond, Ph.D.
Now, three years later, through the MSM Natural Products Research Center’s Emerging Pathogens Program, researchers are examining the potential impact of traditional medicine through natural products on coronaviruses like COVID-19.
Dr. Michael Powell, professor in MSM’s Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Immunology, leads the research effort partnering with Ultimaxx Health and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).
“The goal of this research is to test the efficacy and safety of natural herbal extracts that can be used as a treatment for infectious diseases like COVID-19,” explained Vincent Craig Bond, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology and principal investigator for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI).
Ultimaxx Health and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) provide the MSM team with access to a BSL-4 laboratory to test 3 patented MSM anti-viral products that have already shown anti-viral properties against HIV, Ebola, Flu, and MDR bacteria. SwRI is currently examining our potential therapeutics against the COVID-19 live virus.
MSM investigators are also now setup to do testing of these molecules against two non-novel coronaviruses, and against retroviral vectors pseudotyped with a COVID-19 envelope protein and a purified envelope protein to begin to develop a BSL2+ model.
As this research continues, MSM is in the process of renovations to upgrade our BSL2+ facility to a BSL3 suite that will allow MSM to do studies with SARS-CoV-2 as well as on other emerging pathogens like Dengue, and Zika.