After that initial step, the research team led by Azhar extracted the first sample from a patient at the University Hospital. It was diagnosed by molecular biology technology, and cultured on living tissues in a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory.
Azhar hopes that these research discoveries, and cooperation with Community Jameel, will encourage the private sector to establish partnerships with King Abdulaziz University in various fields.
Partnerships with Foreign Universities
Besides renewing interest in research projects on epidemics and viruses, Saudi universities have intensified the completion of partnership agreements with foreign universities in these research areas, which they believe have greatly helped them to develop their skills and raise the quality of results.
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, represented by its Rapid Research Response Team–Covid-19, formed a partnership with the University of Oxford after the outbreak of the pandemic to develop faster diagnostic methods, such as creating a biosensor for rapid detection of the novel coronavirus. (See a related article, “Jordanian Researchers Create a Cheaper, Faster Coronavirus Test.”)
The Saudi research team also succeeded in developing an immunodiagnostic test aimed at detecting antibodies to the virus.
“The test works by drawing a small amount of blood and placing it on a test strip,” Charlotte Hauser, the head of the Division of Bioengineering at KAUST, said in a news release. “If antibodies are present in the blood, they will directly bind to the virus proteins that are specific to them, and this specific binding is made visible by a color reaction.”
Azhar stresses that partnerships with foreign universities are essential for achieving the strategic goals of sustainable development, which positively affects the quality and development of therapeutic and diagnostic services and enhances cooperation among institutions to hone outstanding expertise.
The Saudi academic believes that research projects in the field of viruses and epidemics in the kingdom will witness a qualitative leap in terms of their results and quality.
“We will soon move to the stage of finding treatments and diagnostic tools, besides developing plans and strategies to limit the spread of epidemic diseases,” he said.
To learn more about the novel coronavirus in the Arab region and its effects on education, research, the arts and culture, see a collection of articles from Al-Fanar Media.