UOHS 2020 Elevator Pitch Winners
UOHS 2020 - 1st Place Elevator Pitch Winner
The common cold is one of the most frequent - and most annoying - viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. While symptoms are usually mild, the airborne vector is still highly contagious, contributing to hundreds of millions of schooldays and workdays missed worldwide, annually. Out of all cases of the common cold, over 50% are caused by serotypes of rhinovirus, where infection is largely dependent on viral adhesion to intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) receptors on the ciliated surfaces of human nasal epithelial cells. While there are some drugs and antivirals in development against rhinovirus, they are rarely seen in clinical use as they are often impractical and/or unsustainable. This research project proposes the genetic engineering of ICAM-1 receptors onto the surface of E. coli as a preliminary trial in determining the efficacy of a bacterial chassis in sequestering a eukaryotic virus. Synthetic biology techniques will be used to clone the proper gene into E. coli, flow cytometry will be used to test for ICAM-1 expression, virulence will be assessed via plaque assay, and aerosol concentrations of rhinovirus will be measured before and after passing through a “mock” nasal canal colonized by our modified E. coli. Finally, if the E. coli chassis proves to be effective in immobilizing rhinovirus particles, the same principles may be applied to highly abundant commensal microbes that live naturally in the human nasal canal. The hope is that we can ultimately create a biological barrier that protects us against the common cold.
UOHS 2020 - 2nd Place Elevator Pitch Winner
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a skeletal muscle wasting disorder caused by dystrophin deficiency. Dystrophin is not only a structural protein but also involved in activated skeletal muscle stem cell (MuSC) polarization prior to division. Lack of dystrophin results in reduced muscle progenitors and consequently impaired tissue regeneration. Using model animals we have found that Wnt7a and EGF can modulate MuSC division dynamics and ameliorate DMD pathology by increasing MuSC expansion and commitment to tissue regeneration, respectively. This project aims to use healthy and DMD donor induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) differentiated into MuSC-like cells to investigate whether Wnt7a and EGF can modulate human MuSC-like progenitor cell division dynamics in the same way. We also aim to generate isogenic dystrophin-null iPSCs from healthy donor lines to identify whether any differences to Wnt7a and EGF treatment between healthy and DMD lines are specifically attributed to dystrophin deficiency. We envisage that this project will provide translational evidence for applying these therapeutic candidates to tackling DMD pathology.
UOHS 2020 - 3rd Place Elevator Pitch Winner