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    NMRC Commander Briefs at Fleet Week San Francisco Online Event

    SILVER SPRING, MD, UNITED STATES

    10.09.2020

    Story by Robert W. Mitchell 

    Naval Medical Research Center

    SILVER SPRING, Md. – Capt. Adam Armstrong, commanding officer of the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), Silver Spring, Md., briefed the public on his team’s COVID-19 research and development efforts and other studies in a virtual version of the Peer to Peer Medical Exchange (MedEx) conference, an annual meeting held in conjunction with San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW). The Oct. 7 meeting was conducted via a Zoom conference call due to the global pandemic.

    Armstrong’s presentation touched on NMRC’s vaccine development, therapeutic solutions under consideration, COVID-19 diagnostics being used and advanced development in the areas such as decontamination.

    He touted NMRC’s ongoing COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines (CHARM), a study that has, so far, enrolled 3,472 Marine Corps recruit volunteers to help track and monitor COVID-19 infections.

    “We wanted to understand, what were some of those transmission dynamics, how many of them [recruits] came in with COVID, how many actually had antibodies to COVID and what were those cellular responses as they go forward,” he said. “So this CHARM study will give us a lot of that interesting data for questions that we really want to know and for which we just don’t know the answer.”

    In another area of COVID research, Armstrong and his researchers are looking at whether human polyclonal antibodies against the virus can be produced. Polyclonals, rather than monoclonals, offer a different approach in this research, according to Armstrong.

    “You heard about monoclonal [antibodies] recently in the news, and there are other questions about monoclonals. Monoclonals is like a sniper rifle going after the virus and a polyclonal targets more things. One way to think of it is like a shotgun, in a sense. So it’s a different weapon to treat the same disease,” he said.

    Dr. Kevin R. Porter, head of NMRC’s Infectious Diseases Directorate and professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, said polyclonal antibodies that target multiple protein sites where the virus enters human cells have a greater chance at continuing to work even if the virus mutates and changes its makeup at one or two specific protein sites.

    “Looking at it from an operational standpoint, safely administering antibodies aimed directly at the virus can potentially be used to not only treat COVID-19 patients, but also prevent infection and illness in others already or who may be exposed to the virus,” said Porter. “This is particularly important given the number of young persons infected with COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms of the disease at all.”

    “To date, polyclonal antibodies (and monoclonal antibodies) against COVID-19 have been given to patients by intravascular infusion,” he said. “NMRC’s role in this project is to test giving the polyclonal antibody product by intramuscular injection, which is more conducive to mass administration to an active duty population.”

    The MedEx event is normally held in a ballroom-like setting with about 200 people networking and sharing professional industry knowledge and insight, said SFFW Executive Director Lewis Loeven.

    “The nice thing is, that you have that personal interaction between civilian and military medical professionals, and so you get the organic interchange and exchange of ideas and at the same relationships start to get built and people stay in touch with each other,” said Loeven.

    But while that interaction is lost with this year’s online setting, there are some benefits to hosting a virtual conference, Loeven pointed out. “What we gain is that we are not limited in space and not limited in geography, so anybody can dial in.”

    He noted Armstrong’s participation in the event held in San Francisco while he remained at NMRC in Silver Spring, Md.

    NMRC's eight laboratories are engaged in a broad spectrum of activity from basic science in the laboratory to field studies at sites in austere and remote areas of the world to operational environments. In support of the Navy, Marine Corps, and joint U.S. warfighters, researchers study infectious diseases, biological warfare detection and defense, combat casualty care, environmental health concerns, aerospace and undersea medicine, medical modeling, simulation and operational mission support, and epidemiology and behavioral sciences.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.09.2020
    Date Posted: 10.09.2020 13:51
    Story ID: 380686
    Location: SILVER SPRING, MD, US 

    Web Views: 33
    Downloads: 0

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