Rocky Mountain Labs No Stranger to Virulent Disease Research
In the small town of Hamilton, Montana, one of the world’s most prestigious medical research facilities is laboring away on unlocking the secrets of diseases such as COVID-19, or coronavirus.
Marshall Bloom, Associate Director of Scientific Management at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, explained what his facility has been tasked to investigate regarding this new disease out of China.
“Several of our investigative groups here jumped on this project right away because we have had groups working on two related viruses,” said Bloom. “One was called SARS back in the early part of the 21st century, and others who have worked on another virus called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. That was one that emerged out of Saudi Arabia back in 2012, so our investigators have a great amount of experience dealing with these viruses.”
Bloom said the scientists at RML are working on four specific areas.
“The first is learning how the virus binds to cells so that they can figure out therapies and treatment on how to prevent that binding, and then to interrupt the infectious process,” he said. “Second, they’re trying to find out just how stable is this virus in the environment? Third, to establish an animal study to study the virus which is crucially important because if people are going to be studying vaccines and other kinds of therapies, then you have to have an animal model that you can test out your vaccines on. Finally, they’re working to test the effectiveness of the vaccines that are being developed, as well as other kinds of treatments and countermeasures.”
Bloom said the testing is moving as fast as possible, but researchers are emphasizing thorough testing for a vaccine that will be truly effective against coronavirus.
“As has been pointed out in the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, research is moving at breakneck speeds, but its absolutely crucial that any vaccine or therapy that is developed and put into practice is not only effective, but it has to be safe.”
Bloom emphasized that the researchers at Rocky Mountain Labs are some of the most prestigious scientists in the world, who have chosen to live and work in Montana.