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COVID-19 treatment, prevention is coolest Ohio State science story of 2022

Trophy, $500 award goes to senior authors in College of Medicine

After a close race, the coolest Ohio State science story of 2022 has been selected by Ohio State News readers: a study detailing the potential to block a single immune response-related molecule to treat and prevent COVID-19.

Nearly 4,000 votes were cast in this year’s contest.

Co-senior authors Amal Amer, professor, and Jacob Yount, associate professor, both in the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, will receive a trophy from Ohio State News and a $500 award from the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge.

Amer, Yount and a large team of Ohio State colleagues found in mice that blocking the molecule, an enzyme known as caspase 11, holds promise in preventing or treating severe COVID-19 symptoms by reducing inflammation, tissue injury and blood clots in the lungs. Versions of this enzyme exist and have similar functions in both mice and humans, making it an attractive therapeutic target. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Here were the other contest finalists:

Future wearable health tech could measure gases released from skin: Scientists have taken the first step to creating the next generation of wearable health monitors. New research suggests that a wearable sensor may be able to monitor the body’s health by detecting the gases released from a person’s skin. The method would allow the technology to sense biomarkers related to metabolic disorders, like heart disease or diabetes. Senior author: Pelagia-Irene Gouma, professor of materials science and engineering, published in PLOS One.

Climate change is turning the trees into gluttons: Forests appear to be bulking up on the excess carbon they pull from the atmosphere. This study showed that elevated carbon levels consistently led to an increase of wood volume in 10 different temperate forest groups across the country, suggesting that trees are helping to shield Earth’s ecosystem from the impacts of global warming through their rapid growth. Co-author: Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental and resource economics, published in Nature Communications.

Ohio State News extends thanks to readers and voters, to the faculty finalists for their enthusiastic participation in our sixth annual contest, and to all the researchers who let our staff help tell their stories.

We can’t wait till next year to do it all again!

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