Despite lockdowns and self-imposed quarantines for most, the University of Iowa’s Perlman Lab is buzzing with activity pretty much 24/7. A hub of coronavirus respiratory research in America’s Heartland, the teams there have centered their attention on SARS-CoV-2 joining what can only be considered a worldwide race of researchers and clinical investigators to find answers to COVID-19. Dr. Stanley Perlman leads the charge there while Balaji Manicassamy, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, participates to work tirelessly and diligently to get answers to why COVID-19 causes so much more destruction than genetically similar strains.
Much to Learn but Working Around the Clock in ‘Hawkeye’ Country
Dr. Perlman notes there is a lot of work to do and time is against all as the number of COVID-19 cases rise across America and beyond. But why is this disease so contagious? Enter Balaji Manicassamy, a Perlman team member, who suspects that the virus affects more cells in the human body and hence triggers an overaction by the human immune system. He suspects that the virus triggers a hyper-reactionary immune system which can cause considerable damage to the lungs in addition to not helping the body fight the virus.
Manicassamy notes that an understanding of the core foundational elements of the virus will help research scientists come up with therapies targeting the disease. He notes that this research is now done in the lab on mice and hence actually studying experimental approaches on humans will take time. Manicassamy and all others at the Perlman Lab work around the clock, collaborating internally and digitally with other centers; studying research papers even before they are peer reviewed in the hopes of some insight.
Balaji Manicassamy, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology
Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Professor of Pediatrics