On the Defense Against COVID-19 – UT News | The University of Texas at Austin

§ November 5th, 2020 § Filed under Nanotechnology Journal Comments Off on On the Defense Against COVID-19 – UT News | The University of Texas at Austin

Mbolle Ekane and her research material. (Credit: Mbolle Ekane)

Mbolle Ekane is one of these students. She is a cell and molecular biology senior who has been working with Ellington since 2017. Ekane described how the lab is focusing on the many unexplored approaches to mitigating COVID-19. Her project in particular explores the overreaction of the immune system to the virus.

Basically, when you first get infected, your immune systems like, Hey, lets go fight this, Ekane explained.

This immune response can be positive, but with COVID-19 it can also cause complications called a cytokine storm. This occurs when the bodys immune response goes into overdrive and starts to attack its own cells and tissues, and not just the virus.

What it does is release these cytokines to try and fight the virus. However, the virus essentially takes over that mechanism, and it becomes a negative feedback loop where youre overexpressing those cytokines your body ends up damaging more cells than youre actually helping, Ekane said.

Whats most significant about cytokine storms is their correlation with patient deaths from COVID-19. Studies from Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy and Frontiers in Immunology show that decreasing this over-response is beneficial for patients, and Ekanes work supports the idea that breaking down this response with some sort of therapeutic could aid COVID-19 patients.

Ekane is researching the potential of quercetin, a naturally occurring product found in buckwheat and other plants, such as onions.

Meanwhile, iTeam member Nicole Garza, a junior human biology major, is investigating a completely different approach to fighting COVID-19. She is looking into therapeutic compounds that can stop the virus from attaching to the host. Right now, her focus is on emodin, a natural compound found in rhubarb and buckthorn and used in traditional Chinese medicines.

Since the beginning of the semester, the students have spent hours each week surveying the literature and exploring other compounds in search of approaches that block or mitigate the virus.

We share a vast article base, and Dr. Ellington brings top colleagues to our research meetings, where we are sort of poked and prodded, Garza said. Its like, OK, what can you do here? Have you thought of this? How is this going to work? Laughing, she said, Maybe poked and prodded arent the right words, but these thought-provoking questions are sort of the idea of research in itself.

This research area of natural therapeutics for COVID-19 is largely unexplored, and Ekane said that the work has been rewarding and challenging. As a future scientist, its crucial, she said. In approaching this problem you just have to have different angles its almost like a game and solving its the fun part.

Here is the original post:

On the Defense Against COVID-19 - UT News | The University of Texas at Austin

Comments are closed.