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Research in the USA in times of a pandemic: SARS-CoV-2 as a systemic disease that is exploiting mechanisms of cell-aging and host responses

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic shocked the world by causing massive global public health consequences. In the midst of the pandemic, the InfectoGnostics researcher Dr. Stefanie Deinhardt-Emmer (Jena University Hospital) was starting her research on the ageing-related aspects of virus infections at the Buck Institute in California (USA). In this DiagnosTech Lecture she will present results of her research and give some insights of her experiences abroad in the USA (see also her JUH LabBlog).

Early clinical observations already indicated that COVID-19 is a systemic disease that does not only affect the lungs and therefore shows different manifestations. Stefanie Deinhardt-Emmer and her team at the University Hospital Jena were able to prove this in analyses of tissues and organs of deceased patients with COVID-19. Viral RNA could be detected in various tissues and organs outside the lungs without visible tissue damage. Such spread of SARS-CoV-2 RNA throughout the body supports the hypothesis of a mismatched host response in which viruses enter the bloodstream and cause multi-organ failure. In parallel, the team used a complex human chip model to analyse the effects of the viruses on the alveolar barrier and immune response.

Senescent cells as a key factor in COVID-19 pathogenesis

During her stay at the Buck Institute in the USA, the Jena researcher investigated how severe progressions of COVID-19 are influenced by so-called senescence – the biological ageing of cells. Senescence is a characteristic of the general ageing process and is accompanied by an upregulation of cell signaling proteins related to inflammatory processes, which can contribute to the progression of viral infections. The data from the research group suggest that a specific exopeptidase is upregulated in senescent cells, which is leading to improved viral entry.

Date: 20.07.2021 // 2.00 - 4.00 p.m.
Location: Centre for Applied Research, lecture hall on the ground floor
(22 persons are admitted on site) and online
Language: English
Registration: via the form