Pre-med students spend the summer studying COVID-19 – DePauw University

ACE2 receptors perform important functions, such as regulating blood pressure, so the goal is not to eliminate them, Ruggles said. She is using three websites designed to identify microRNAs with the potential to target the ACE2 protein. So far she has identified 59 such RNAs.

Nor is inhibiting ACE2 receptors likely the most efficacious approach to battling COVID-19, largely because it is difficult to deliver microRNAs in the body, her professor said. But its always nice to have a backup plan, Ruggles said. Its also good just to expand our knowledge for future instances.

Said Chopra: Our focus is not to worry about delivery in the clinic. Our focus is to find the microRNA that someone else will eventually, someday, use in the clinic. There are over 3,000 microRNAs. Our goal is to figure out which one or two or three will target ACE2.

Both students are science research fellows, enabling them to collaborate one-on-one with a faculty member on a summer research project. They connect remotely with their professors, sometimes several times a day.

Professor Shifa has taught me so much already, Stanley said. I feel very fortunate that my research even got to happen this summer because most peoples was cancelled. I think I was the only biochem major who picked math research, but it worked out.

Shifa said that Stanley is a wonderful, wonderful young lady. She is a great learner. She is one of the most hard-working students I have ever had.

Stanley and Shifa plan to co-author a paper on the research and submit it to a scientific journal.

Ruggles hopes that, by the end of summer, she will have identified a potential microRNA that she can then test in the laboratory.

The remote learning actually was beneficial in this certain scenario because, in the first half of research, we were just reading articles and learning all about coronavirus and then we were learning about the history of coronavirus; we were learning about the ACE2 protein, she said. We took a week about microRNA. So we were able to slowly learn a pretty in-depth knowledge about each of these things in order for my mind to wrap around it.

(Another student, Yangjie Tan 21, has been studying microRNA this summer as it relates to traumatic brain injury.)

Chopra said that, in summer research, a student is in the driving seat and can take control or derail the project. It can be a difficult lesson and a challenging burden for some students. Molly has risen to the challenge and succeeded. Shes driving the project and coming up with new ideas every day. Its been fantastic to watch.

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Pre-med students spend the summer studying COVID-19 - DePauw University

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