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Molecular insights in SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and epidemiology.

Infection with SARS-CoV-2 mostly leads to a mild self-limiting respiratory tract illness, however, some patients progress to develop severe progressive pneumonia, multiorgan failure, and death. The project aims to determine factors that dictate the severity of COVID-19. Firstly, guided by our prior data of interaction of certain mucins with the ACE2 receptor and the clinical evidence of excessive mucin production in severe COVID-19 illness, we intend to characterize different mucins for their role in both the initiation and progression of COVID-19. Secondly, based on a severe degree of edematous interstitial lung tissue pathology observed in COVID-19 autopsies and its hypothesized link to abnormally low PaO2 observed clinically, the project intends to characterize aquaporin (AQP) water channels that are responsible for fluid transport across cells. This has important therapeutic relevance for COVID-19 as specific AQP inhibitors have been shown to attenuate inflammation and lung injury and to block mucin hypersecretion. Lastly, mucin expression is also a critical factor in microbiome homeostasis and based on, so far, scarce data that co-infection with other respiratory pathogens and other microbial interactions might modulate COVID-19 severity, the project aims to characterize the microbiome associated with different degrees of disease severity. Identifying factors that shape the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection will lead to identification of plausible targets to treat COVID-19.
Date:1 Jun 2020 →  31 May 2021
Disciplines:Gastro-enterology, Medical intensive care, Anatomical pathology , Clinical genetics and molecular diagnostics, Clinical microbiology, Microbiology not elsewhere classified, Respiratory medicine