TENNESSEE: American scientist Dr Thirumala Devi Kanneganti has discovered a potential strategy to prevent life-threatening inflammation, lung damage and organ failure in patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Published online in the journal Cell, the research coming from the lab of Dr Kanneganti, a Telangana-born researcher working at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee, identified the drugs after discovering that the hyperinflammatory immune response associated with COVID-19 leads to tissue damage and multi-organ failure in mice by triggering inflammatory cell death pathways.
Kanneganti was born and raised in Telangana. She received her undergraduate degree at Kakatiya University in Warangal, where she majored in Chemistry, Zoology, and Botany. She then received her M.Sc. and Ph.D from Osmania University in India. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. After receiving a Ph.D. in microbiology, she obtained a postdoctoral position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on fungal genetics of plant pathogens, or the microorganisms that can cause disease. She completed two more post doctorals and is currently associated with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, since 2007.
Kanneganti, the vice chair of the St Jude Department of Immunology and other researchers detailed how the inflammatory cell death signaling pathway worked, which led to potential therapies to disrupt the process. "This research provides that understanding. We also identified the specific cytokines that activate inflammatory cell death pathways and have considerable potential for treatment of COVID-19 and other highly fatal diseases, including sepsis," she said.
The other researchers were Shraddha Tuladhar, Parimal Samir, Min Zheng, Balamurugan Sundaram, Balaji Banoth, R K Subbarao Malireddi, Patrick Schreiner, Geoffrey Neale, Peter Vogel and Richard Webby, of St. Jude; and Evan Peter Williams, Lillian Zalduondo and Colleen Beth Jonsson, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.