Regina-born scientist leading the search for a COVID-19 treatment
REGINA -- Scientists from around the world are working together to help beat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Nevan Krogan, who was born and raised in Regina, is leading the research being done at the University of California San Francisco to find a treatment for the virus.
"We’re trying to look at the host, look at our cells, and see which proteins and genes the virus needs to infect us," Krogan told CTV Regina.
Krogan says there are only 30 genes or proteins associated with the virus compared to more than 20,000 in each human cell. Mapping how the virus interacts with human proteins will allow his research group at UCSF’s Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) to identify drugs that can be effective in treating the virus.
"The virus cannot live by itself, it needs our cells, our genes, our proteins to replicate and infect our cells, so the question is which genes and proteins does the virus need," Krogan said.
The data released by Krogan and his team has led to scientists at labs around the world starting 12 clinical trials for potential COVID-19 treatments.
"There’s never been so many scientists working together on one problem and because of that reason, I believe that there will be a treatment, a drug treatment by the end of the year," Krogan said.
A treatment for COVID-19 would come from "drug repurposing" with drugs already developed to combat other diseases like cancer, heart disease and more.
As the director of the QBI, Krogan has studied a number of virus over the past decade, including HIV, influenza, ebola and zika, looking for new ways to treat them.
He says a couple of scientists at the QBI started looking at sequence for SARS-CoV-2 in January and the entire laboratory quickly turned its attention to the virus as it spread throughout the world.
"We have a set of tools here, a set of technologies that we could quickly pivot and use to study the Coronavirus," he said.
"We’ve brought in more groups in New York, Paris, England and Germany, making connections now in South America, Africa and around the United States as well, and we’ve been working in a very unprecedented way, each bringing our different areas of discipline to come up with solutions for this pandemic that we’re all dealing with."
Krogan started on the path to the work he’s doing today, here in Regina. He attained his degree and masters at the University of Regina before completing his PhD at the University of Toronto.
The U of R says it’s proud to have an alum doing such important work during this global pandemic.
"The work that he’s doing with his research group that’s spread out around the globe, they’re very much on the forefront of COVID-19 research and we’re pretty proud," U of R spokesperson Paul Dederick said.
Krogan and the QBI Coronavirus Research Group are providing their data to scientists all over the world. He says the collaborative work being done has been a silver lining for him in this pandemic.
"The goal here is to try to keep this infrastructure in place when the dust settles on COVID-19 so that we’re better prepared for the next pandemic," Krogan said.
He added this work proves that scientists can work together and he would like to see that transferred over to fighting other diseases like cancer, Alzheimers or Parkinson’s.
"I’d love to see this collaborative spirit stay in place so we can move much more quickly to come up with treatments for them," Krogan said.