Myeloid Cells and Antiviral Immune Response to Respiratory Pathogens

Dr. Diana Cadena Castaneda, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Palucka Lab, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine
Diana Cadena Castaneda

Dr. Diana Castaneda is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Karolina Palucka’s lab at Jackson Laboratory, where she uses the flu virus to study the role of myeloid cells in antiviral immune response. In this Q&A, Diana shares how she and her colleagues are adapting their research to contribute to SARS-CoV-2 knowledge.

We are trying to contribute indirectly through studying the flu virus and comparing our data with the SARS-CoV-2 database to identify genes and pathways of interest.

Dr. Diana Cadena Castaneda

Please provide a general overview of your research interests.

We study the implication of myeloid cells, particularly antigen-presenting cells (APCs), in antiviral immune response. We use the flu virus for our studies.

Going back to when you first heard about this new coronavirus, what were some of your initial thoughts on how it would affect your research?

I believed that we may be able to contribute to the SARS-CoV-2 studies because of our previous work on respiratory viruses, but was worried about my experiments on two levels. First, that we probably would have to stop everything. And second, if we have to continue working in the lab due to the relevance of our research to this pandemic, would we be able to order reagents? And, would the delivery services continue?

How are you (or your team) currently studying COVID-19?

We are trying to contribute indirectly through studying the flu virus and comparing our data with the SARS-CoV-2 database to identify genes and pathways of interest.

What are some of the scientific challenges COVID-19 researchers are faced with?

One challenge we face is the lack of proper equipment. Studying SARS-CoV-2 requires access to biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) facilities and not all labs are equipped with that. We also have only a few people who are [currently, due to pandemic restrictions,] allowed to work in the lab, making it difficult to get work done.

How are you using STEMCELL products in your research?

We are using STEMCELL products to perform air-liquid interface (ALI) cell cultures for studying infections, as well as cell separation kits for isolating myeloid cells from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).

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