Protecting Health at UToledo

Protecting Health at UToledo


As outbreaks of coronavirus and other diseases
have shown, threats to public health are constantly emerging around the globe due to a wide range
of unpredictable factors. The University of Toledo is confronting these challenges with
a rigorous, cross-disciplinary approach that defines us as one of the nation’s most comprehensive
public research universities. The need for bold new ideas in prevention,
vaccination and treatment has never been greater. Many infections are becoming resistant to
existing drugs, making them costlier and more challenging to treat. With reports projecting antimicrobial resistance
to cost millions in lives and economic damages worldwide by 2050, UToledo researchers are
working with urgency to address one of the greatest threats to our health as identified
by the World Health Organization. Chemist Dr. Steven Sucheck and immunologist
Dr. Katherine Wall are developing a vaccine against a specific bacterium that can be deadly
for those with compromised immune systems and conditions such as cystic fibrosis. With this project, we are preparing synthetic
vaccines to potentially treat pseudomonas aeruginosa. It’s interesting because vaccines
actually seem to have a longer life cycle, a longer utility – they seem to last for
decades after you develop an effective vaccine. And so that may be one way to mitigate the
problem, of the inevitable rise of drug resistance. We’ve been collaborating for over a decade
on a cancer vaccine – and I’m excited about being able to expand the application
of our techniques, and perhaps people will observe us, using this in bacteria, and maybe
try some of our approaches in a variety of other diseases as well. UToledo is also driving innovation in treatments
and therapies. One unique approach is discovering ways to leverage our body’s own immune response
to develop new therapeutics. Biological scientist Dr. Heather Conti is
investigating the role of platelets beyond just blood clotting and how they can also
boost our ability to protect against bacteria and fungi. Her inspiration is helping patients
with oral candidiasis, more commonly known as thrush, which is becoming increasingly
resistant to existing treatments. UToledo medical microbiologist Dr. Kevin Pan
is exploring how we can repurpose existing drugs to treat septic shock, a life-threatening
condition caused when the body’s response to infection damages its own tissues and organs.
Pan’s team is the first to show rolipram — previously explored as a treatment for
COPD — might protect against sepsis. The University of Toledo is a hub for innovative
thinking, methods and technologies that are proving themselves effective in addressing
centuries-old diseases and modern threats alike.

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