Prominent journal publishes COVID-19 research compiled by biology professor and students

The team consisting of Dr. Emeka Okeke and three students – Joshua Ninan, Caitlin Snyder and Esmeiry Ventura – compiled a research study that examined the role of immune cells in inflammation and mortality in severe cases of COVID- 19. Their study was published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

The role of immune cells in driving inflammation and mortality in severe cases of COVID-19 has been the subject of a research study, compiled by Assistant Professor Emeka Okeke of the Department of Biology and three students in Science from SUNY Fredonia, which was published in the prestigious journal Frontiers in Immunology.

The three students are: Joshua Ninan, a graduate of Cattaraugus-Little Valley High School, Cattaraugus; Esmeiry Ventura, senior, majoring in biochemistry, majoring in chemistry, in the pre-med program, graduated from Hicksville High School in Melville; and Caitlin Snyder, junior, majoring in biochemistry and a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Utica.

Frontiers in Immunology is the official journal of the International Union of Immunological Societies.

“Extracellular Neutrophil Traps, Sepsis, and COVID-19 – A Tripod” highlights the role of white blood cells, called neutrophils, in driving inflammation and mortality in severe cases of COVID-19, said the Dr Okeke. “Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 cause neutrophils to release proteins in a cobweb-like fashion, which we call neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), and this spreads inflammation.”

“About 20% of patients with COVID-19 progress to severe disease and our research highlights the contribution of NETs to severe cases of COVID-19,” Okeke explained. The work is very important because understanding the immunopathology (the disease-associated immune responses) of COVID-19 is essential for the development of effective therapies that will reduce deaths in COVID-19 and end the global pandemic, Okeke said.

The research discusses evidence indicating that severe COVID-19 has clinical presentations consistent with definitions of viral sepsis, a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and can cause system failure. organ and death. The role of neutrophils and NET formation in the pathogenesis – the origin and development of disease – of severe COVID-19 is highlighted in the study.

Ms. Ventura analyzed the role of neutrophils in diseases such as sepsis and COVID-19, researching scientific literature and clinical trials. “I mainly focused on the role of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in sepsis and COVID-19 and targeting of NETs in COVID-19,” Ventura said. “I have researched many different clinical trials of NET inhibitors for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Ventura said this experience helped her grow as an undergraduate student and broaden her knowledge of scientific research. It taught him to take initiative and to be able to work with a small team of other students.

“It makes me happy to be able to share with the world the importance of neutrophils and how it can affect medical complications like autoimmune diseases. Having read many other research papers in preparation for writing this one, I learned a lot of skills,” she said, and I learned to write scientifically.

“I also learned about the process of publishing a research paper,” said Ventura, who plans to become a dermatologist. “Overall, this publication has exposed me to the professional world of scientific research.”

“By researching to find evidence for these NET proteins in severe cases of COVID-19, I learned to navigate credible sources in order to find the information needed.” -Caitlin Snyder

The development of research skills was one of the main lessons of the research study for Snyder.

“It was the first time I’ve been asked to help with a post and I learned a lot,” Snyder said. “By researching to find evidence for these NET proteins in severe cases of COVID-19, I learned to navigate credible sources in order to find the information needed.” Snyder has applied these skills to other articles she writes.

Snyder’s goal after graduation is to attend medical school and become an OBGYN doctor.

Drugs that prevent or inhibit NET formation are potential candidates for the treatment of COVID-19, the study concludes. “As our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neutrophil extracellular trap formation increases, more therapies targeting neutrophil extracellular traps will become available and may hold promise for the effective treatment of severe COVID-19,” the study suggests.

Further research is needed to understand the behavior of neutrophils during infection with SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several laboratories around the world are currently testing inhibitors of neutrophil extracellular trapping for the treatment of COVID-19.

Students compiled literature searches and drafted portions of the manuscript. Okeke edited the manuscript before publication. All authors contributed to the article.

This research compiled by students in Okeke’s lab during the summer of 2021 prepared them for further research in graduate school after receiving their undergraduate degrees, Okeke said.

Frontiers in Immunology is available at: Borders | Extracellular neutrophil traps, sepsis and COVID-19 – A tripod.

“My lab is committed to finding new therapies to control the inflammatory response of immune cells,” Okeke said. “We are currently exploring the anti-inflammatory activity of potato-derived proteins.”

A new potato protein with anti-inflammatory activity was recently identified in the lab, Okeke noted, and this finding was recently published in the scientific journal Molecules, a peer-reviewed open-access chemistry journal. Okeke and Ventura were among the authors of the study.

The article published in Molecules can be found at: Molecules | Free Full Text | TNKPVI, a putative bioaccessible pharmacophore of the anti-inflammatory decapeptide derived from potato patatin DIKTNKPVIF

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