College of Medicine Research Examines Novel Genetic Pathway in Treatment of COVID-19, Viral Infections


Posted on July 15, 2020
Brittany Otis


Dr. Glen Borchert, associate professor of pharmacology, is collaborating on one of seven externally funded COVID-related research projects underway at the University of South Alabama and USA Health. data-lightbox='featured'
Dr. Glen Borchert, associate professor of pharmacology, is collaborating on one of seven externally funded COVID-related research projects underway at the University of South Alabama and USA Health.

A recent discovery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine shows there is a contributor in the body that helps fight viral infections. According to Dr. Glen Borchert, associate professor of pharmacology, his team found that the body pumps a new form of transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) fragments into lung fluid which helps target respiratory viruses.

The finding comes from one of seven externally funded COVID-related research projects underway at the University and USA Health from federal, private and foundation sponsors. These rapid response projects submitted very early in the pandemic timeline total $464,132 in funding. Another 20 proposals totaling $4.3 million have been submitted since then and are awaiting funding. (NOTE: As of Aug. 6, a total of 16 projects were funded with another 15 proposed.)

The team at the Borchert Laboratory at the USA College of Medicine are exploring why tRNA fragments are flowing in and out of lung cells and how it could combat respiratory viruses, such as the coronavirus. The team plans to test the tRNA fragments’ ability to restrict SARS-CoV2, the virus causing COVID-19.

The National Science Foundation awarded the Borchert Laboratory $200,000 for further research into the discovery. The USA College of Medicine is the only institution in the nation awarded a grant on this specific research topic.

“With this funding, our work can go further as we begin to better understand how the body naturally fights infections,” Borchert said. “Once we’ve collected the data from testing the tRNA fragments, we can work toward more therapeutics for patients battling viral infections.”

Dr. Natalie Bauer, associate professor in the department of pharmacology; Dr. Jin Hyun Kim, assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology; and Dr. Dominika Houserova and medical student Ravi Rajendra, both at the USA College of Medicine, are collaborators on the project.


Share on Social Media

Archive Search

Latest University News

  • President Jo Bonner gives his inauguration address at the Mitchell Center on Friday. “The University of South Alabama is poised and ready to become the Flagship of the Gulf Coast,” he told those gathered.

    Bonner Inaugurated as Fourth President  
    September 24, 2022

    President Jo Bonner announces a commitment to student recruitment and ...
  • Bri Wilson, a volleyball player from Alabaster, Alabama, followed her sister's lead in wearing No. 13. I’m not superstitious, but I do like to do everything the same way.”

    First Serve  
    September 21, 2022

    Bri Wilson, a volleyball player from Alabaster, Alabama, settles in at...
  • Xha’Nae Morris, a nursing sophomore from Mobile, attends a Second Year Experience event early this semester. Morris also works with first-year students for the Office of Student Academic Success. She’s a ComPAL – Composition Pal  – who offers English tutoring.

    Second Helping  
    September 16, 2022

    South launches Second Year Experience, a five-year program with academ...
  • Jo Bonner inauguration graphic

    Fourth President  
    September 12, 2022

    Jo Bonner, whose career in public service includes a decade in Congres...