Trishna Patel

Investigating the antiviral effects and mechanism of action of cyclodextrins against SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis

The recent COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), has catalyzed a global public health crisis, and effective therapeutics as well as a deeper understanding of the mechanism of severe disease induced by SARS-CoV-2 infections are desperately needed. Severe cases of COVID-19 are associated with vascular leak in the lungs of infected individuals, a similar pathology to that of flaviviruses, for which preliminary research has shown that synthetic sulfated glycans may function as potential antivirals. In particular, cyclodextrins, a family of cyclic oligosaccharides with potential use as active pharmaceuticals, are promising candidates for efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection and vascular leak. Coronaviruses interact with heparan sulfate-containing proteoglycans on the surface of susceptible cells, which serve as non-specific attachment factors. Specifically, the SARS-CoV-2 S protein binds heparin on the host cell surface, making this cellular attachment stage a potential target for antiviral therapeutics before pathology is triggered in the lungs. This summer, I will be investigating specific cyclodextrins for their ability to either directly target the SARS-CoV-2 virus or block attachment to the host cell surface.

Message to Sponsor

I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I had this summer to conduct my research project and contribute to new findings amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Working in the lab this past summer has definitely solidified my plans to apply to and attend graduate school in the future. I was always intimidated by the thought of one day conducting my own research, but through SURF, I gained more confidence in my ability to contribute valuable data to the scientific community. I learned and improved upon vital life skills such as troubleshooting failed experiments, adapting to new scenarios, critical thinking and analysis, and perseverance against all odds. Furthermore, the SURF fellowship has allowed me to further my interests in not only infectious diseases, but in the field of biomedical research as a whole, and opened my eyes to the myriad of possibilities within the field of biology. I would like to thank my SURF donor for supporting me in this process and giving me the tools and opportunities to pursue my passion for global public health and research.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Dr. Eva Harris