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UT researchers stay on campus to continue coronavirus work, inching closer to a vaccine

Researchers from The University of Texas created a 3D image of the coronavirus, which led to a potential vaccine being tested in Seattle.

AUSTIN, Texas — While the rest of campus remains a ghost town, quietly inside a molecular science lab at The University of Texas at Austin, important work continues in fighting COVID-19.

"It's been a strange environment at this time, not the usual scene of people gathering around and sitting and talking about their research; we're using the internet and Zoom," said Shelley Payne, a molecular science professor at UT.

But Payne said the change hasn't slowed down the progress. 

"This is the fastest I've ever seen a vaccine get to phase one trials," said Payne.


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Just last month, KVUE went inside the lab after infectious disease researchers created the very first 3D structure of the coronavirus. That 3D structure led to a potential vaccine, being tested on humans right now. 

"The vaccine that's in phase one right now, being tested in Seattle, is based on this structure," said Payne.

RELATED: UT Austin researchers create map that may help scientists create coronavirus vaccine

Payne said researchers have been putting in long hours, and they're proud to be doing their part. 

"Anything we can do makes us feel like we're contributing to something and not just sitting and waiting for it to go away. I think there's a real sense of purpose right now," said Payne.

This week, two members of the UT Austin community tested positive for COVID-19. The university is encouraging all of their students and faculty to continue practicing social distancing during this time.


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