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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC Researchers Fight Emerging Diseases

A model platform for an academic-corporate partnership, Gilead Sciences Inc. and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are teaming up to save lives. The biopharmaceutical company sought the resources and talents of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Baric Lab in the development of treatments with the power to control outbreaks of disease.

Dr. Ralph Baric, head of the lab and professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School, has pioneered rapid-response approaches for the study of emerging viruses and the development of therapeutics. The lab was a natural fit when it came time to test a treatment with promise to work against multiple coronaviruses, a family of viruses that primarily infect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. The treatment is a broad-spectrum antiviral — it works against a large variety of viral pathogens — and is a potential key to pandemic preparedness.

The increasing interconnectedness of our world makes it easy for sick people in seemingly remote areas to spread emerging viral diseases around the globe. The Gilead broad-spectrum treatment that was tested and proven in the Baric Lab, now known as Remdesivir, has been deployed for use in the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not only does the drug have potential to save lives there, but all efficacy and safety results will inform treatments for other coronaviruses.

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[Photo: Dr. Ralph Baric]