K-State researchers studying coronavirus, seeing interest from outside companies

Local News

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Researchers at Kansas State University are studying coronavirus and seeing interest from outside companies. This comes as states across the country continue to see record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

Stephen Higgs is the director of the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) at K-State. The facility was designed and built to meet biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) and biosafety level 3 agriculture (BSL-3Ag) standards.

According to Higgs, BRI researchers have been studying coronavirus since March and projects are looking at the virus from a variety of angles. Higgs said it is so new, there is not much known about the virus.

One research team is looking at whether the virus can be spread by animals. Higgs said researchers are studying pigs and cats in the hopes of learning more about how the virus is transmitted.

“If these animals are susceptible to infection, what happens if they are infected and obviously do they pose a risk to people around them,” Higgs said.

Higgs said this was born out of concern that house pets, like cats and dogs, or livestock could spread the virus. He also said they are looking in to how coronavirus acts in blood.

“If this virus was in blood, could you ensure that it was possible to kill the virus in blood so that it could be used for transfusions,” Higgs said.

Because coronavirus is a new virus, Higgs said they are working to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent infection. While they are learning new things all the time, they are currently not close to a vaccine.

Higgs said he’s received calls from outside companies who want to partner with the BRI on additional research projects and people are quickly discovering that K-State has the facilities necessary to do this type of biological research.

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