U of U studies coronavirus “super-spreaders” and their mucus

Mar 31, 2020, 12:19 PM
Grant to study super spreaders...
A University of Utah researcher has received an emergency grant to study how "super spreaders" more rapidly spread the COVID-19 coronavirus.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A University of Utah researcher is getting an urgent government grant to study the transmission of coronaviruses, Specifically she’ll study how so-called “super-spreaders” account for so many infections during an outbreak.

“Mucus is at the center of the story,” said Doctor Jessica Kramer on  KSL Newsradio’s ‘Utah’s Morning News’ with Tim and Amanda.

‘Super-spreaders’ and COVID-19

The slimy bodily fluid can transmit COVID-19 and other coronaviruses in small airborne droplets. But some people seem to transmit the viruses more than others.

“Actually, only 20% of individuals are thought to contribute to 80% percent of transmissions. And it’s not simply poor hygiene,” said Kramer.

Not much is known about how these “super-spreaders” are created. Researchers want to know why some people exposed to coronaviruses do not track them to others. Mucus could be the answer to those questions.

“Our new grant is to study how the different qualities of mucus may explain this phenomenon,” said Kramer.

A $200,000 one-year Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant was awarded to Dr. Kramer, an assistant biomedical engineering professor.  The grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation

The mucus of ‘super-spreaders’ is different

Not everybody’s mucus is the same. It can vary from person to person based on everything from genetics to diet. Many different proteins make up mucus. Coronaviruses bond to specific proteins. Super-spreaders might have something in common, and it could be in their mucus.

“The coronavirus might actually be able to bind to the mucus of some people, but not others.”

Dr. Jessica Kramer, University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor. (Photo: University of Utah)

According to a University release, Dr. Kramer’s lab will create different forms of synthetic mucins.  They’ll use special aerosols to simulate coughing, and they’ll see how different mucins carry non-hazardous versions of coronaviruses.

Listen here to the interview with Dr. Jessica Kramer on Utah’s Morning News with Tim and Amanda:

Today’s Top Stories

All News

The Church Office Building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pictured during th...
Tad Walch, Deseret News

‘Any kind of abuse … is an abomination,’ President Nelson says at Saturday morning session

President Russell M. Nelson denounced abuse as a grievous sin and an abomination at the close of the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
13 hours ago
Follow @amandadickson...
Amanda Dickson

Working Conference Weekend

Some of the weekends that I remember best and thoroughly enjoyed were conference weekends. Times were different, but the memories hold true.
13 hours ago
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extremism...
Ellie Kaufman, CNN

Defense secretary condemns ‘nuclear saber-rattling’ but says he doesn’t believe Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons

While U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hasn't seen anything to suggest Russia has decided to use nuclear weapons, he did condemn nuclear saber-rattling
13 hours ago
Hurricane Ian survivor Hope Labriola waited for help as her home filled with water. Photo credit: H...
Caroll Alvarado, CNN

‘I can’t do this’: Fort Myers Beach woman calls for help as Hurricane Ian’s storm surge floods her home

A Fort Myers Beach woman called for help as the storm surge from Hurricane Ian.
13 hours ago
Lisa Garner. Photo credit Draper City....
Mark Jones

Lisa Garner has support of Draper mayor to become next city judge

Draper Mayor Troy Walker is seeking the appointment of Lisa Garner as the city's next judge. The appointment must be approved by the city council on Oct. 4.
2 days ago
Two Murray police cruisers are shown...
Mark Jones

Murray Police warning public to be on lookout for scam

Several reports of a scam have been reported in Murray. According to police, a caller pretends to be from the Murray Police Department and attempts to notify a person of a warrant and insists the person pay the bail amount.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
U of U studies coronavirus “super-spreaders” and their mucus