Modeling of Virus/Medicine Transport in Respiratory Systems and Their Interactions with Epithelial Cells for COVID-19 Treatment

illustration of lungs

Previous studies have shown that the major targets of SARS-CoV-2 are the tiny air sacs of the lungs called alveoli, and that acute respiratory distress syndrome is the primary reason of death for COVID-19 disease. To develop effective treatments, it is critical to understand the transport of virus aerosols and nasal medicinal spray droplets in respiratory systems. It is also critical to understand the interaction between the virus and medicine with the epithelial cells, which could either trigger or mitigate the inflammation, and affect the transport of oxygen from the lung to the blood.

Led by Suo Yang, PhD, Richard & Barbara Nelson Assistant Professor, College of Science and Engineering, researchers in the study will conduct modeling of the transport of virus aerosols and nasal medicinal droplets in the lung airways, and model lung inflammation to show the impact of inflammation on the diffusive transport of oxygen to the blood.

“Based on the understanding of virus and medicine transport in respiratory systems, we can optimize the medicinal droplet size distribution and design medical spray injection systems accordingly,” said Yang. “In addition, based on the understanding of the interactions between virus and medicine with epithelial cells, we can guide the medicine development and medication dosing and timing.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.