Sharon Morley, M.D.,Ph.D.

Sharon Morley, M.D.,Ph.D.

Institution: Washington University in St. Louis

Project: COVID-19 infection, NLRP3 inflammasome activation and therapeutic trials to treat ARDS in a mouse model

Grant(s): COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

Severe acute respiratory virus-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), now causing a global pandemic, infects the cells lining the airways and results in fever, cough and shortness of breath. People with severe SARS-CoV-2 lung infections can require hospitalization for supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation. Scientists do not understand why some people have such severe lung infections. It may be that immune system “overreaction”—too much inflammation—damages the lungs while trying to repel the virus. We will study a protein complex that may contribute to excess inflammation. We will use cell lines and mice to determine if over-activation of this complex worsens SARS-CoV-2 infection. We will also test two available drugs in mice to reduce inflammation generated by this protein complex, to see if they prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection from causing so much lung damage.

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