Before and even during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Sanford Health and its research teams have played an integral part in studying the virus, various testing and treatments.
“Sanford Research has become a nationally recognized research institution across the country,” Sanford Research President David Pearce, Ph.D., said in a Facebook Live Q&A event on June 16. “My role is to oversee the direction and strategy of where we want to go, and staying on top of where research and science are going.”
Watch video: Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. David Pearce
Speaking to the evolution of COVID-19, he has learned more and more about the virus every day.
“Never in the history of medicine have we defined the natural history of a disease over such a short period of time,” Dr. Pearce said. “That’s been part of my role… partnering with infectious disease physicians and intensivists, to find the best way to treat individuals that have COVID-19 with mild, medium or very severe symptoms of the disease. That’s been the role of Sanford Research: to put into the hands of physicians the tools that didn’t exist prior to the appearance of this devastating disease.”
Latest on vaccine development
More than 90 companies are working to develop a coronavirus vaccine using new platforms and technologies, Dr. Pearce said. Sanford Research will have a role in testing those.
“We’ve already been approached by a number of groups to run clinical trials,” he said. “As companies are developing their vaccines, we hope to be participating in some of those.”
One of those companies is Sioux Falls-based, clinical stage biopharmaceutical development company SAb Biotherapeutics which has its own lab housed inside Sanford Research. Through its partnership with Sanford Health, the research team will assist with a clinical trial with a vaccine.
Susan Hoover, M.D., Ph.D., a specialist in infectious diseases, weighs in on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine saying this is a process that can’t be rushed.
“This is one of the largest vaccine efforts I’ve ever seen,” Dr. Hoover tells Sanford Health News. “It’s a long process because it has to be very safe.”
Leading the way with clinical trials
Unfortunately, not every treatment for every condition or disease is as effective as we’d like it to be which is why clinical trials exist, Dr. Pearce says.
“A clinical trial is an opportunity for us to introduce a new treatment and see if it improves the treatment you’re actually receiving.”
In exploration of the safety and efficacy of various treatments, Sanford Research provides additional options for patients who seek more treatment for any given disease or condition. His team is currently leading 300 clinical trials.
With a number of safety regulations, continuous monitoring and consent, anyone can consider participating in a clinical trial which, leaders say, provide tremendous of value to the teams studying various conditions.
Sharon Hunt is the vice president of operations for Sanford Research.
“Not all of us can make scientific breakthroughs. Not all of us can treat patients. We’re not all physicians. But, we do have the ability to participate in gaining that scientific knowledge for those physicians,” Hunt said.
“If we can come together and say, ‘yes I want to be a part of this, I want to be able to move science forward and to move health care forward’, that really is an opportunity that we have here. Not every health care system is able to offer these trials like Sanford can. With our location and population here, we have a great opportunity to be involved and conquering disease just by participating in clinical trial.”
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