Visualization of the SARS-CoV-2 virus

Researchers from across the University of Michigan's vast research enterprise are using their expertise to address COVID-19 and its impact on public health, the economy, the environment, education and more. At the LSI, our scientists are quickly establishing new projects and refocusing current projects that illustrate how creative, collaborative basic science can address our biggest scientific challenges.

  • The LSI’s Center for Structural Biology has teamed up with the School of Public Health and the Medical School to advance the development of a test that detects anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, for identification of individuals who have been exposed to the virus. 
  • The Cheung lab is applying its knowledge of a specific RNA helicase—a protein that unwinds the RNA of a coronavirus to allow its replication inside host cells—to search for novel therapeutic approaches that target the coronavirus.
  • Researchers in the Ginsburg lab are applying their expertise in genome-scale CRISPR screening to identify novel genetic interactions relevant to the COVID-19 viral infection. Utilizing CRISPR technology (a tool used to edit genes), they are engineering hundreds of millions of precise changes in the human genome and then identify those changes that control production of the ACE2 protein—the human protein that enables the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter host cells. The lab is also examining how genetic alterations to a protein called PAI1 might be harnessed to help block the virus.  
  • In the Mapp lab, scientists are working to develop small molecules that can potently and selectively block the active site of TMPRSS2—a protein that facilitates the virus's entry into human cells.
  • In collaboration with the U-M Center for Drug Repurposing, the Natural Products Discovery Core (NPDC) and the Sherman lab are screening the LSI's unique, chemically diverse natural products library against SARS-CoV-2 in a bronchial airway viral infectivity assay. The short-term goal is to identify high-priority characterized natural products as interventional therapeutics against COVID-19. The NPDC is also employing the library to identify novel natural product-based drug leads that can effectively inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prevent the evolution of resistance mechanisms.