The SCIREQ team attended Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 in April! This year, the team virtually sat in on several exciting sessions touching on topics such as COVID-19, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and EVALI. Here are some highlights of what we learned from this year’s meeting!
COVID-19 Insights and Treatments, One Year Later
This year, as expected, there were many interesting sessions and posters on current COVID-19 research. Dr. Perlman from the University of Iowa showed interesting impacts of brain infection on the olfactory center. His study shows that the immune response damages healthy nervous tissue, even with the protection of brain infection with convalescent plasma. Dr. Perlman also noted sex differences on the ‘scent’ impacts of COVID-19.
Next, Dr. Fadi Xu from Lovelace Biomedical demonstrated the distinction between lethal and non-lethal infections and their subsequent impacts on lung inflammation, edema, and apneas. He looked at the impact of COVID-19 on the control of breathing based on H5N1 data and found that there was more variability in respiratory rate as the lethal disease progressed. Dr. Fadi concluded that lethal infections induced pulmonary inflammation and edema.
Dr. Mark Denison’s presentation focused on the treatment of COVID-19. He presented an overview of the advantages of antiviral targets available for COVID-19, along with potential drugs and partnerships in the works.
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) was another topic discussed at Experimental Biology 2021. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a pediatric respiratory disorder that affects preterm infants who experienced respiratory distress.
Dr. Lingappan from Baylor College of Medicine tested the sex differences in BPD and challenged gonadal vs chromosomal sex differences. She found that males were predisposed to BPD and noted significant differences in vitro compared to the impact in sex-specific cells.
There is no cure for BPD; however, researchers like Dr. Minoo and Dr. Kourembanas are working towards finding a treatment. Dr. Parviz Minoo from the University of Southern California discussed the role of AT1 and AT2 cell proliferation and recruitment in BDP. His research shows a potential treatment for BPD that involves the possibility to recruit AT2 cells to become regenerative AT2 cells.
Additionally, Dr. Stella Kourembanas from Harvard University showed that Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Exosomes (MEx) could also provide a platform for therapeutic intervention to restore normal lung function in BPD patients.
The last few sessions SCIREQ attended at Experimental Biology 2021 focused on discussing the EVALI studies on e-cigarettes. Dr. Alexandra Noel from Louisiana State University found that earlier lung injury may not be solely due to vitamin E acetate but cinnamon flavouring. Dr. Noel exposed cells and mice to e-cigarette smoke using the inExpose. She found that exposure to cinnamon decreased tidal volumes in subjects, which did recover after two months. She also noted that the heating of vitamin E acetate above 180C resulted in acrolein, a lung irritant. This suppressed apoptosis in cells which means that cell death is likely associated with necrosis.
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