OSU researchers’ simulation shows how COVID-19 affects the body

TULSA, Okla. — Researchers at Oklahoma State University are working to understand what makes COVID-19 so dangerous to the body even if it’s not the virus itself doing the damage.

Researchers call it the cytokine storm -- the body’s sometimes deadly response to COVID-19.

About 60 researchers around the world, including OSU’s Dr. Ashlee Ford Versypt, are trying to better understand the body’s response to the virus.

The whole body is attacking itself,” Dr. Ford Versypt says.

Dr. Ford Versypt is an associate professor of chemical engineering who studies a receptor known as ACE2 which controls blood pressure.

She says she’s particularly interested in how coronavirus affects diabetic patients or those with high blood pressure.

“Many of us in science and engineering are saying, ‘how can we use our tools and our background and our understanding?‘” she says.

Dr. Ford Versypt is working with Dr. Paul Macklin, an associate professor at Indiana University who created a 3D computer modeling system that’s been used to study cancer.

The system simulates how the body’s cells move, grow and interact when introduced to COVID-19 which can be seen here.


Dr. Macklin and Dr. Ford Versypt say they are already seeing the impact of their work because it’s changing how people think about science.

They hope this collaborative computer modeling system also helps researchers make breakthroughs on other illnesses.