Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Victor Huber

Second Advisor

Dr. Zhenqiang Wang

Third Advisor

Professor Aimee Sorensen


Molecular Structure, Viral Infection, Replication, Microbiology, Immunology

Subject Categories

Medical Immunology | Medical Microbiology


Molecular Interactions of Human Cell Proteins with SARS-CoV-2 versus Influenza


Linze Cowman

Director: Victor Huber, Ph.D.

The novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID- 19, shows considerable similarity to a common influenza infection. Over the past year, innumerable studies have been investigating the Vitus in various capacities, from big-picture public health repercussions to the virus' biochemical interactions with human cells for infection. This research provides invaluable information in the ongoing war against infectious diseases. While the influenza virus is fairly well-understood, much surrounding the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) remains unclear, including its longevity, long-term health effects, methods of transmissibility, and more. Both the scientific community and the general public are asking the same question: how can the two appear so similar yet be so different? We must probe their differences at the most fundamental level before such inquiries can be properly addressed. The purpose of this article is to evaluate and compare the molecular interactions of each virus with human host cells and draw inferences about anomalous qualities observed through SARS-CoV-2 infections. Examining the genomic characteristics of antibodies created to combat each virus — both those from a naturally occurring infection and vaccine-induced may provide insight into infection, immunity, and potential cross-reactions. COVID-19 has catapulted the world's population through a total societal upheaval with economic, intrapersonal, and political ramifications, the likes of which have not been seen in a century — since the 1918 HI NI influenza vin.1S outbreak. Each pandemic event exposes the weaknesses of the healthcare system and better prepares us for the next. The conclusion of this article will hypothesize what a new "normal" may look like and which avenues of medicinal and technological advancement may help us avoid or better prepare for the next global pandemic.



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