A recent discovery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine shows there is a contributor in the body that helps fight viral infections.
By Brittany Otis
A recent discovery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine shows there is a contributor in the body that helps fight viral infections. According to Glen Borchert, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, his team found that the body pumps a new form of transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) fragments into lung fluid which helps target respiratory viruses.
The team at the Borchert laboratory at the USA College of Medicine are exploring why tRNA fragments are flowing in and out of lung cells and how this flow could combat respiratory viruses, such as the novel coronavirus. The team plans to test the tRNA fragments’ ability to restrict SARS-CoV2, the virus causing COVID-19.
The National Science Foundation awarded the Borchert laboratory $200,000 for further research into the discovery. The USA College of Medicine is the only institution in the nation awarded a grant on this specific research topic.
“With this funding, our work can go further as we begin to better understand how the body naturally fights infections,” Borchert said. “Once we’ve collected the data from testing the tRNA fragments, we can work towards more therapeutics for patients battling viral infections.”
Natalie Bauer, Ph.D., associate professor at the department of pharmacology, Jin Hyun Kim, DVM, Ph.D., assistant professor at the department of microbiology & immunology, Dominika Houserova, graduate student, and Ravi Rajendra, medical student, both at the USA College of Medicine, are collaborators on the project.