Megakaryocytes and Platelets in Immune and Inflammatory Responses and in COVID-19

Platelets—small cells which circulate in abundance in the bloodstream—are traditionally known for their ability to form clots and stop bleeding. Recent studies, however, have shown that platelets and their parent cells, megakaryocytes, also play a role in inflammation and infection. University of Utah Health investigators Robert Campbell, PhD, and Matthew Rondina, MD, and colleagues discovered that platelets and megakaryocytes respond robustly to infection, including COVID-19. These infection-driven changes in platelets activate clotting mechanisms and thus may contribute to the blood clots that complicate COVID-19 infection. Continue reading → Megakaryocytes and Platelets in Immune and Inflammatory Responses and in COVID-19

Unexpected Antiviral Activity of Spironolactone

Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpesvirus associated with clinical infections and several types of malignancies. Sankar Swaminathan, MD, and colleagues showed that a hypertension/heart failure drug, spironolactone, also has anti-EBV effects. Continue reading → Unexpected Antiviral Activity of Spironolactone

A Rapidly Manufacturable, Open-Source Ventilator for Austere Conditions

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, severe ventilator shortages led to dire situations both in developed regions and in low-resource regions where robust and affordable ventilators were already scarce. To address this urgent need, University of Utah Health researcher Kai Kuck, PhD, and colleagues developed Pufferfish, a complete intensive care unit ventilator capable of supporting the continuum from noninvasive ventilation to full mechanical ventilation. Continue reading → A Rapidly Manufacturable, Open-Source Ventilator for Austere Conditions

MicroRNA Regulation of Inflammation and Immunity

MicroRNAs provide a crucial level of control for cell development and function through their post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Their importance is highlighted by their diverse functions in a range of cell types, including immune cells. Continue reading → MicroRNA Regulation of Inflammation and Immunity

Viral RNA Modulation of Host Gene Expression

Viruses depend on and modulate their hosts’ cellular environments to maximize replication. Cazalla and colleagues studied the small RNAs from H. saimiri, a herpesvirus that establishes latency in the T cells of New World primates and can cause aggressive leukemias and lymphomas in non-natural hosts. Continue reading → Viral RNA Modulation of Host Gene Expression

Inhibiting Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) in Immune Injury and Pathologic Clotting

Deficient or excess immune system activities cause many human diseases. To understand the mechanisms of immune injury and their links to pathologic clotting, University of Utah Health investigators Christian Yost, MD, Guy Zimmerman, MD, and colleagues defined features of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). Continue reading → Inhibiting Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) in Immune Injury and Pathologic Clotting

The Power of mRNA in Anucleate Platelets

Andrew Weyrich, MD, and his group made the seminal discovery that anucleate human platelets transform messenger RNA (mRNA) into mature products that code for protein. More recently, his group found that a specific type of microRNAs (Dicer1-dependent) and their precursors (megakaryocytes) modulate the expression of target mRNAs important for cellular function. Continue reading → The Power of mRNA in Anucleate Platelets