Convocation Newsletter, Spring 2019

12 Research Matters SARS Acute Lung Injury A team led by scientists at the AIDS Institute and the Department of Microbiology discovered how host antibody response contributes to acute lung injury (ALI) during SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection. The findings were published in JCI Insight . Patients who die of SARS develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), the most severe form of ALI. Recent outbreaks of severe acute respiratory infections from emerging viruses – including MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) and avian influenza – highlight the need to investigate the mechanisms responsible for virus-mediated ALI or ARDS. The team provided evidence that anti-SARS-CoV spike antibody causes severe ALI by skewing macrophage responses during acute SARS-CoV infection. Dr Liu Li (back) supervising a student at the AIDS Institute. The team is led by Professor Chen Zhiwei 陳志偉 , Director of the AIDS Institute and Professor of Department of Microbiology, and conducted primarily by Research Assistant Professor Dr Liu Li 劉利 . Key external collaborators include the Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Tulane National Primate Research Center, and the University of Iowa. Heart Disease in Men An international research team led by Dr Mary Schooling at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine evaluated the impact of testosterone on the risk of blood clots, heart failure, and heart attacks in a large cohort study. It concluded that having a genetic predisposition to high testosterone levels could play a role in the development of major heart problems in men. The findings may also have implications for men who take testosterone supplements to boost energy levels and sex drive. The study used a technique called Mendelian randomisation. Researchers analysed genetic variants that predict testosterone levels and their associations with blood clots, heart failure and heart attack in almost 400,000 men and women from a large genome study and the UK Biobank database. Heart conditions were identified from self-reports, hospital and death records, and results were validated using data from another large genome study. SPRING 2019