University of Utah Researchers Receive Grant To Study Coronavirus

Apr 1, 2020

Virus molecules settling on the surface of a cell.
Credit University of Utah

Scientists at the University of Utah recently received funding to contribute to the fight against the spread of Covid 19.

“This grant is studying mucus and it’s interactions with coronaviruses," said Dr. Jessica Kramer, and you heard right.  She is studying how coronaviruses interact with mucus.

“When people cough or sneeze they expel mucus containing fluids into the air and the virus travels through these droplets. The air-born droplets can land directly on another person’s mucus membrane, like in their eyes or lungs, and the virus makes its way through the mucus into the next victim’s cells.” 

“Humans have many hundreds of different forms of the proteins in their mucus, and we don’t know how these different forms affect the viability of the virus as it travels in the air, or sits on a surface, or sits on our cells and tries to block the virus.”

So the quality of our boogers may be the last defense against coronaviruses.

“The molecular composition will change with different people, and that depends on their genetics, their diet, maybe other diseases like cystic fibrosis or lung cancer, and also things like smoking.”

The grant provides one year of funding.

“It’s possible that we could have recurring outbreaks, so it’s important to keep looking for methods to treat Covid 19, but there are other strains of coronavirus that have come up in the human population and it’s possible that there will be more in the future, so we need methods to treat coronaviruses in general.”

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