ATLANTA—Dr. Christopher Basler, professor and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has received two grants from the National Institutes of Health to study two coronaviruses that cause human disease, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The first grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which totals $387,534 for two years, focuses on MERS coronavirus, which has been associated with much higher case fatality rates than SARS-CoV-2. Fortunately, MERS coronavirus spreads less easily between infected and uninfected people.
“The goal of the MERS coronavirus study is to understand how the virus defeats the body’s innate immune response that is designed to provide rapid protection from viral infections,” said Basler, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Microbial Pathogenesis. “The findings of this work should help explain why this virus is so deadly.”
The second grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which totals $429,000 for two years, focuses on understanding how SARS-CoV-2 relies on the lipids (fats) within the infected cell to grow and spread. The hope is that understanding what features of the cell the virus relies on will provide insight into how the virus causes disease and suggest new strategies to treat infection.
Early data from the study indicate the virus relies on cellular pathways that are also of interest to drug makers who are trying to treat cancer, diabetes and obesity.
For more information about the MERS coronavirus grant, visit https://reporter.nih.gov/search/hoK2Lwk8-EWVtUiKGrVc8w/project-details/10289173.
For more information about the SARS-CoV-2 grant, visit https://reporter.nih.gov/search/up4t_B_g_0ipfozov_EXsw/project-details/10238577.