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Meharry researchers working to develop COVID-19 antiviral treatment

Experts are working around-the-clock to find successful COVID-19 treatments. Meanwhile, researchers in Nashville are looking into how certain drugs could be altered to become possible remedies.

Meharry Medical College President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth said one of their research scientists, Dr. Donald Alcendor, is working to develop a COVID-19 antiviral treatment.

“Dr. Alcendor is taking a compound he developed for treating the Zika virus,” explained Dr. Hildreth.

Just a few years ago, Dr. Alcendor worked on a successful antiviral drug to treat the Zika virus. Now he's in his lab modifying a compound in hopes of targeting COVID-19.

“By modifying the current drug that he had we’re going to test it against the COVID-19 virus,” Dr. Hildreth exclaimed. “The advantage of doing that is you have a head start because you have something to work from as opposed to trying to develop a drug from scratch.”

Dr. Alcendor could be less than two weeks away from clinical testing. Meanwhile, Meharry is pushing folks in the North Nashville community to take advantage of their drive-up assessment site on campus that is free of charge.

“On Monday I believe we tested almost 200 individuals in a single day and I believe that it’s really good because the more testing we do the better handle we’ll have on where to allocate resources,” Dr. Alcendor said.

Their goal is to provide potentially life saving services in underserved communities.

“What testing does is it makes the invisible enemy visible and we have a better chance of fighting it.”

The assessment center is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. for Nashville residents only.

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