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January 18, 2022

Harrington Discovery Institute Advances COVID-19 Treatments

In 2020, during the early months of the pandemic, Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals put a message out to scientists around the world, asking them for their ideas on how to fight the coronavirus - seeking innovative, breakthrough science.

Approximately 300 scientists and researchers responded with applications, seeking the funding and expertise offered. Harrington Discovery Institute chose 12 scholars believe to have the highest likelihood of clinical success and each with a team: a lead drug development advisor (with experience bringing drugs to market), a business development advisor and a project manager from Harrington’s Therapeutic Development Center.

Today, four of those 12 scholars’ innovations have already progressed to the stage of clinical trials.

  • A next-generation monoclonal antibody therapy developed by Harrington Scholar Michel Nussenzweig, MD, PhD, from The Rockefeller University. Preclinical data suggest that, even at low concentrations, this antibody treatment minimizes the risk of the virus mutating and developing resistance to the therapy. This improved antibody has already been licensed to Bristol Myers Squibb and is readying for phase three clinical trials.
  • A treatment for patients in the early days of a COVID-19 infection by Harrington Scholar Joseph Vinetz, MD, of Yale University is also in clinical trials. It uses the anti-viral clinical effects of camostate mesylate, an existing drug known for its anti-inflammatory and potential antiviral qualities. It was found to limit symptoms in an outpatient population of COVID-19 patients in New Haven, CT, including preventing the loss of smell or taste.
  • Third, a novel respiratory treatment is being led by Harrington Scholar James V. Reynolds, PhD, University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University, would be the first multi-purpose drug to improve lung and heart function in COVID-19 patients. This drug enhances tissue oxygenation, which combats many of the pathological impacts of COVID-19.
  • A new type of vaccine called a “single-cycle adenovirus” vaccine developed specifically for intranasal immunization by Harrington Scholar Michael A. Barry, PhD, of Mayo Clinic is in phase one testing of clinical trials. COVID-19 enters the body in the nose and lungs, yet most vaccines are injected into the muscle and miss the opportunity to generate a robust barrier of protection at the site of entry. This new vaccine is engineered to be substantially stronger than most of the vaccines currently being developed, in that it can producing up to 100 times more viral proteins for the immune system to detect and provoking significantly stronger immune responses than most other vaccines.

“Harrington Discovery Institute does what others can’t. We find the best science and fuel it with funding and critical expert guidance to accelerate the process of creating medicines and finding cures. We don’t do it alone. We accomplish such achievements with the help of our community, including UH caregivers, who support our mission and our work to impact the standard of care,” said Jonathan Stamler, MD, President, Harrington Discovery Institute, University Hospitals; Director, UH Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine; Robert S. & Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation.

“As we develop breakthrough treatments for patients, we need to raise as much support as possible from our local Cleveland community and across the nation. “This is an opportunity to restore human health and the world’s economic well-being.”