Houston Methodist expert notes COVID-19 precautions lead to historic drop in flu cases

A silver lining is emerging amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Influenza numbers are way down – 98 percent down, according to the CDC. Locally, during flu season last year, Houston Methodist’s system of eight hospitals saw 250 to 450 flu cases per week. This year the hospital system has seen only 2 to 5 flu cases per week so far. The numbers tell a striking story. Handwashing, masking and social distancing work.

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Retrained generic antibodies can recognize SARS-CoV-2

An alternative approach to train the immunity response is offered by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and California State University at Sacramento who have developed a novel strategy that redirects antibodies for other diseases existing in humans to the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2.

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Alzheimer’s microbe hypothesis gets major NIH funding

After years of paltry funding, research on the possible role of microbes in the causation of Alzheimer’s disease will now get a major infusion of grants from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging

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Giving Cells an Appetite For Viruses

DALLAS – Dec. 16, 2020 – A team led by UT Southwestern researchers has identified a key gene necessary for cells to consume and destroy viruses. The findings, reported online today in Nature, could lead to ways to manipulate this process to improve the immune system’s ability to combat viral infections, such as those fueling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Uncovering Novel Genomes from Earth’s Microbiomes

Reported in Nature Biotechnology, the known diversity of bacteria and archaea has been expanded by 44% through a publicly available collection of more than 52,000 microbial genomes from environmental samples resulting from a JGI-led collaboration involving more than 200 scientists around the world.

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What’s That Growing on Your Face Mask?

Many people reuse masks and other face coverings many times without sanitizing them. That is likely because current sanitization methods can be cumbersome. A new device using a hanging rack and UV-C light can sterilize up to six masks and other items simultaneously and quickly, killing bacteria, yeasts, mold spores, and viruses. This device has shown its efficacy against pathogens including the highly-contagious E-coli, which was eradicated in about one minute.

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UCLA Health infectious disease experts tout critical role mask wearing plays in limiting spread of COVID-19

With thousands of new cases logged daily and a vaccine to fight COVID-19 still in development, UCLA Health infectious disease experts are encouraging people to continue to wear masks as the best method of protecting against virus transmission.

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Ocean Algae Get “Coup de Grace” from Viruses

Scientists have long believed that ocean viruses always quickly kill algae, but Rutgers-led research shows they live in harmony with algae and viruses provide a “coup de grace” only when blooms of algae are already stressed and dying. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, will likely change how scientists view viral infections of algae, also known as phytoplankton – especially the impact of viruses on ecosystem processes like algal bloom formation (and decline) and the cycling of carbon and other chemicals on Earth.

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Studying viral outbreaks in single cells could reveal new ways to defeat them (video)

Many viruses mutate so quickly that identifying vaccines or treatments is like trying to hit a moving target. Now, scientists report a new technique that can detect minor changes in RNA sequences. They present their results today at the American Chemical Society Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo.

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