Opelousas native among researchers working to develop COVID-19 anti-viral and vaccine


LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- As the coronavirus tightens its global grip, researchers are working around the clock to develop drugs and treatments to stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

 A leading researcher in the country is in a rush to find an anti-viral to treat coronavirus.

And he’s from right here in Acadiana.

Dr. Donald Alcendor, a native of Opelousas, is an infectious disease specialist.
We talked to him about how close we are to finding a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and a drug to treat patients already infected, in the race to save lives.

It’s a tough one Dr. Alcendor says, because nothing is yet available and the road from lab to creation is a long one.

“The antiviral is an option in support of a vaccine that could be administered quickly…put into the lung by nebulization technology. It’s proven to be efficacious,” Alcendor explained.

Alcendor is currently doing research in  molecular biology, neuroscience and virology at Meharry Medical College in Nashville Tennessee.

Among his noted works, Alcendor’s research arsenal includes a drug candidate he developed with two other doctors for  “Zika”, a virus that caused a global epidemic in 2015-2016.

Meharry University is awaiting a patent for that drug reagent for Zika.
We also asked Alcendor where we are in the process of finding a cure or treatment or both and their effectiveness against COVID-19.

“We’re looking at 12 to 18 months from today for a vaccine that would prevent infection, but an anti-viral that would be effective and you have a situation of stepping in within about three or four months,” Alcendor said. “The antiviral we’re working on is similar to our work on Zika.”

He says to date, there’s no antiviral drug proven effective against COVID-19.
He would not comment on the current hydroxychloriquine and zithromax combination being used in an attempt to treat some COVID-19 patients.

Alcendor’s work falls in a crowded field of drug companies and scientists around the world all working to find a drug to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Some of them he says, are his colleagues in the south, at Vanderbilt University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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