Our lab has already made progress on Zika virus as a biologic therapy but I realized that, while our work was focusing on getting a flavivirus to infect specific cell types, we were poised to assay molecules that prevent related viruses from infecting cells at all. We also already have a platform for building custom nanobodies, so it just made sense to put these elements together. West Nile isn’t as broadly found as viruses like Zika or Dengue, but it is of great concern locally. I had thought about the project in different ways, but one day a colleague came in who I hadn’t seen in a while. They had been sick for an entire month with West Nile including being in a near coma for a week. I saw the Flinn Foundation announcement a few days later and decided this was something we needed to do.
Arizona State University: Target to Trial Rapid Immunotherapy Development for West Nile Virus
There are currently no specific treatments for West Nile or related diseases and no therapies at any clinical phase of the development timeline. This project will fund an accelerated platform for biologic drug development, operating at 100 times the scale for a fraction of the cost of current methods, which could make a treatment for West Nile feasible and set a new standard of development and affordability for biologic therapies globally. Principal Investigator: Benjamin Bartelle, Ph.D.