The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has inked a deal with Harvard's Wyss Institute worth up to $16 million to use technology to identify and test FDA-approved drugs that could be used in the battle against COVID-19.
According to a statement, DARPA will make use of computational drug-discovery pipelines and human organ chip technologies that were deveoped at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
“Over the past few years, the Wyss Institute has been building up its computational approaches to identify compounds as potential therapeutics and validate them using our human organ chip microfluidic culture technologies to validate them, but the emergence of COVID-19 has really galvanized us to quickly integrate all of our capabilities and bring full force to bear on that challenge,” said Donald Ingber, Wyss founding director and a professor of bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in a statement.
The Wyss Institute is working in collaboration with researchers from the Frieman Lab at the University of Maryland Medical School and the tenOever Lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to uncover and test potential treatments for the deadly virus.
Wyss says that human organ technology is also being installed in two labs, which will allow scientists to analyze the human response to COVID-19 infection in vitro.
“Our initial successes allowed us to obtain this new support from DARPA, which we hope will greatly accelerate the development of drugs that might be used to prevent the spread of disease in large populations, as this is precisely what is needed before we can all go back to something close to life as usual," Ingber said.