UC Irvine-led research team creates novel rabies viral vectors for neural circuit mapping

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 14, 2024 — A research team led by the University of California, Irvine has created 20 new recombinant rabies viral vectors for neural circuit mapping that offer a range of significant advantages over existing tools, including the ability to detect microstructural changes in models of aging and Alzheimer’s disease brain neurons.

Virginia Tech’s Linsey Marr named 2023 MacArthur Fellow

Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor and a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, has been named a 2023 MacArthur Fellow, a highly prestigious award commonly called a “genius grant.” The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Wednesday that Marr is one of 20 fellows who will receive an $800,000 award.

Reductions in sexual mixing ended mpox outbreak in England, while vaccination has prevented resurgences in 2023

The rapid outbreak of mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) in 2022 likely resulted from high levels of sexual mixing among some gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), with the initial downturn in cases probably due to a reduction in sexual contacts among these men.

Dr. Jaime Avila shares back-to-school tips that parents should know.

Jaime Avila, MD, at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center, answers common patient questions and reacts to the latest medical research What can parents do to help ease back-to-school anxiety? (SOT@ :14, TRT :51) Some kids may not…

Air monitor can detect COVID-19 virus variants in about 5 minutes

Now that the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, scientists are looking at ways to surveil indoor environments in real time for viruses. By combining recent advances in aerosol sampling technology and an ultrasensitive biosensing technique, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have created a real-time monitor that can detect any of the SARS-CoV-2 virus variants in a room in about 5 minutes.

A Head Start on the Next Pandemic

Investigating viruses with spillover potential could give us a head start on the next pandemic and minimize its severity; one such virus is RshTT200, discovered in Cambodian bats in 2010. During ACA’s 73rd annual meeting, July 7-11, Samantha Zepeda from the University of Washington will present her team’s investigation into RshTT200. The team used cryo-electron microscopy to solve the spike protein structure. Once the spike proteins were understood, they built harmless, nonreplicating pseudoviruses expressing the spike proteins to investigate how RshTT200 accesses human cells.

How to talk with youth about the dangers of viral challenges and online safety

Viral challenges have been around almost as long as the internet. Some, like the ice bucket challenge are good, raising awareness on important issues. But others are not, and can put both youth and their parents at risk. What makes these viral challenges attractive for youth? How should parents approach the topic of online safety with their children? A Virginia 4-H specialist and a Virginia 4-H’er provide advice on how to do just this.

Weaponizing Part of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Against Itself to Prevent Infection

ROCKVILLE, MD – The virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, uses its spike protein in order to stick to and infect our cells. The final step for the virus to enter our cells is for part of its spike protein to act like a twist tie, forcing the host cell’s outer membrane to fuse with the virus. Kailu Yang, in the lab of Axel Brunger, colleagues at Stanford University, and collaborators at University of California Berkely, Harvard Medical School, and University of Finland have generated a molecule based on the twisted part of the spike protein (called HR2), which sticks itself onto the virus and prevents the spike protein from twisting.

Key Change in Genetics of SARS-CoV-2 Evolved to Counter Weakness Caused by the Virus’ Initial Mutation that Enabled Its Spread

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say their new studies suggest that the first pandemic-accelerating mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, evolved as a way to correct vulnerabilities caused by the mutation that started the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

COVID-19 virus-human protein network provides new tools and strategies for screening host-targeting therapies

A Cleveland Clinic-led research team used artificial intelligence to map out hundreds of ways that the virus that causes COVID-19 interacts with infected cells. Through this analysis, they identified potential COVID-19 medicines within thousands of drugs already approved by the FDA for other treatments.
The research focused on host-targeting therapies, which operate differently from other antivirals by disrupting the mechanisms viruses use to multiply and survive, rather than just blocking specific proteins within the cell. The research, published in Nature Biotechnology, presents a network called an “interactome,” the interactions between COVID-19 virus proteins and host cell proteins.

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Discover New Signal for Triggering Human Immune Response

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Florida Research and Innovation Center (FRIC) found that disruption of a cellular structure, known as the actin cytoskeleton, is a “priming signal” for the body to respond to a virus. These findings, published in Cell this week, potentially lay the groundwork for development of new anti-viral vaccines and treatments.

Texas Biomed tapped for national ‘Dream Team’ developing antivirals against COVID-19 and other threats

Texas Biomedical Research Institute Professor Luis Martinez-Sobrido, PhD, an expert in virology, vaccines and antiviral research, has been recruited to collaborate with three of the nine Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern announced by NIH this spring.

Immune Molecules From a Llama Could Provide Protection Against a Vast Array of SARS-like Viruses Including COVID-19, Researchers Say

Mount Sinai-led researchers have shown that tiny, robust immune particles derived from the blood of a llama could provide strong protection against every COVID-19 variant, including Omicron, and 18 similar viruses.

SEIR Model to Address the Impact of Face Masks amid COVID-19 Pandemic

When vaccines are not available, alternative strategies are required to decrease SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Behavior of the population and government regulations, such as hand hygiene, quarantine of exposed persons, isolation of symptomatic persons, and travel restriction, play an essential role in…

Einstein-Developed Treatment Strategy May Lead to HIV Cure

Armed with a novel strategy they developed for bolstering the body’s immune response, scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have successfully suppressed HIV infections in mice—offering a path to a functional cure for HIV and other chronic viral infections. Their findings were published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

What if just one airborne particle was enough to infect you?

For some diseases, people exposed to just a single airborne particle containing infectious virus, bacteria or fungi can be infected. When this happens, understanding and predicting airborne disease spread can be a whole lot easier. That’s the result of a new study by a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist who developed a new theory of airborne infectious disease spread.

Hunting Down The Mutations That Cause Cancer Drug Resistance

Using a virus to purposely mutate genes that produce cancer-driving proteins could shed light on the resistance that inevitably develops to cancer drugs that target them, a new study led by UT Southwestern scientists suggests. The findings, published online in Cancer Research, could help researchers develop drugs that circumvent resistance, validate new drug targets, or better understand the interaction between drugs and their target proteins.

LEDs Light the Way to Coronavirus Disinfection

LEDs are commonly used for sterilization, and in the continued effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, LEDs can also help inactivate SARS-CoV-2. A team in Pakistan designed far-ultraviolet LEDs at a targeted wavelength of 222 nanometers, chosen both for its ability to inactivate the virus and for being safe on human skin. They based their design on the material aluminum gallium nitride, part of a set of materials called III-nitrides which are efficient, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly.

Avoiding Drug Resistance by Understanding Evolution of Viruses

During ACA’s 71st annual meeting, Celia Schiffer, from the University of Massachusetts, will talk about her lab’s work with virus substrate recognition as a method to avoid drug resistance. Schiffer and her team expanded their work on HIV and the hepatitis C virus to include human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and discovered that designing robust inhibitors to fit within the substrate envelope tips this balance toward decreasing the probability of resistance.

New study details enzyme that allows coronavirus to resist antiviral medications

A new Iowa State University study details the structure of a critical enzyme present in SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This enzyme removes nucleoside antiviral medications from the virus’s RNA, rendering many treatments ineffective. Scientists could use data uncovered in the new study to find ways to inhibit the enzyme, possibly leading to more effective treatments.