The Scholars

of the WANIDA network

WANIDA > Scholars > John Demby Sandi

Curriculum :
PhD. Cellular and molecular biology of infectious diseases

ACE affiliate :
West African Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP)

Thesis title:
Mediating host genetic factors in SARS-CoV2 susceptibility and COVID-19 clinical phenotype.

WANIDA > Scholars > John Demby Sandi

Start date:
January 2021

Problem statement:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is contagious in humans, causing coronavirus 19 disease (COVID-19). As of May 25, 2021, approximately 168 million cases and 3.5 million deaths associated with COVID-19 have been recorded worldwide. The clinical course of COVID-19 is marked by differences, with a lower severity of COVID-19 and a more fatal outcome in the African population than in other populations worldwide. These differences in clinical phenotypes are partly due to differences in immune response, which is associated with host genetic factors. However, studies on this topic are currently scarce, limiting our understanding of the host genetic factors involved in susceptibility to the clinical phenotype of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

Expected result:
We hope to identify genes in upper respiratory epithelial tissues that are significantly overexpressed and underexpressed in our study population, associated with SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and its clinical phenotype. Furthermore, given that human infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurs primarily via the upper respiratory tract, we hope to find proteins other than ACE2 used by this virus as cellular receptors.

As our study is genetically diverse, it will provide strong evidence on the host-pathogen interaction during human infection with SARS-CoV-2, advancing our knowledge of its pathophysiology. The proteins identified here will serve as potential therapeutic targets. In addition, the experience gained from this study will strengthen the student for future independent research.

Dr. Lily Paemka, WACCBIP