A group of bioscience researchers with world-class expertise in spatial cell analysis at GE Research, the innovation engine for GE, has embarked on an in-depth cellular study to better understand the impact of COVID-19 virus on the lungs. A key goal will be investigating what types of cells the virus attacks in the lungs and the reaction caused to the infection.
In some of the most severe cases, COVID-19 attacks cells in the lungs that cause the destruction of lung tissue, making it very difficult for patients to breathe. These complications can lead to patients being placed on ventilators and too often result in death.
Fiona Ginty, GE’s Principal Investigator on the project, hopes new insights from the study could lead to better treatments and therapies to improve patient outcomes, stating, “We believe the type of spatial cell analysis could yield new information in our understanding of the body’s response to the COVID-19 virus, including the immune response, and why the destruction of lung tissue occurs. The sooner we can isolate why it’s happening; the sooner new and more effective therapies can be developed that enable more patients to make a full recovery.”
Caption: Fiona Ginty is the Technology Manager of GE Research’s Biosciences group and project leader on the NIH-funded COVID-19 Lung Study.
Ginty said the team at GE Research is collaborating on the NIH-funded project as part of the Human Biomolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) and Lung Molecular Atlas Program (LungMAP) with Dr. Gloria Pryhuber, at the University of Rochester Medical Center Lung Biology and Disease Program, a leading Principal Investigator on that program. HuBMAP is an open and global platform led and funded by the NIH to map the estimated 37 trillion cells in the body and organs to enhance our understanding of how diseases happen and aging progresses. The LungMAP, now in its 7th year and funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is an effort focused specifically on identifying and mapping the cells of young and still developing lungs in order to learn how to promote healthy lung function throughout life, beginning very early after birth.
Caption: Lead Scientist in the Biosciences Group, Lisa Lowery (left) and Lead Engineer in the Microsystems Group, Christine Surrette, in the Biosciences Lab at GE Research in Niskayuna, NY, are key leaders running the COVID-19 Lung Study with Fiona.
Over he next six months, the GE Research team will conduct a spatial cell analysis of samples from deceased patients with acute, progressive or resolved COVID-19 infections, to understand immune and lung cell responses to infection, intending to identify what kinds of proteins are expressed by the cells that promote infection or recovery.