Creighton University: Capacity of Immune Cells Could Lead to Better Treatment for Lung Injury


An assistant professor in the Department of Physics, the Rev. Andrew Ekpenyong was a doctoral student at Creighton University. He is working with a team of medical doctors and scientists studying the arduousness of cells after observing something strange about a certain type of immune cell called the neutrophil. The neutrophil is the most abundant type of granulocytes as well as the most abundant type of white blood cells in most mammals. Ekpenyong earned a master’s degree in physics from Creighton and joined the expertise and team after post-doctoral work at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany.

Mr. Ekpenyong said, “It was just one of those cases where you start out to do one thing and take just one or two steps further for a bit of fun or further insight, and you have something else”. Further, he said, “One of the lead researchers I was working with saw the video I had taken, jumped from his chair, left the room and beckoned his medical colleague to take a look”. The researcher name is Edwin Chilvers. He is a professor of respiratory medicine in Cambridge’s Department of Medicine. Ekpenyong’s approach has led to his development of a microfluidic device. A microfluidic device mimics the body’s microvascular system by squeezing the neutrophils into their tranquil state after activation. Ekpenyong stated that along with his team will be to find a way to translate this discovery into a clinical application.