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Infectious Disease News

A New Way to Disarm Antibiotic Resistance in Deadly Bacteria An antibiotic resistant bacterium (Klebsiella pneumoniae) is treated solely with the last-resort antibiotic imipenem (right); and with a combination of imipenem and a DsbA inhibitor, causing it to rupture and die. Image credit: Nikol Kadeřábková.

Scientists think they may have uncovered a whole new approach to fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which, if successful, would help address a health crisis responsible for more deaths every year than either AIDS or malaria.

COVID Forecasting Method Proves It Can Reliably Guide City's Response Illustration by Jenna Luecke

Using cellphone mobility data and COVID-19 hospital admissions data, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have reliably forecast regional hospital demands for almost two years, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The forecasting system, which municipal authorities credit with helping Austin maintain the lowest COVID-19 death rate among all large Texas cities, has been built out for use by 22 municipal areas in Texas and can be used by any city to guide COVID-19 responses as the virus continues to spread.

CNS Faculty Elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Three College of Natural Sciences faculty members members have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society. In total, six faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin were elected this year. The honor recognizes important contributions to ...
Adapting the Frequency of COVID-19 Testing Depending on Transmission Rate and Community Immunity Illustration by Jenna Luecke

Expanding rapid testing stands out as an affordable way to help mitigate risks associated with COVID-19 and emerging variants. Infectious disease researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new model that tailors testing recommendations to new variants and likely immunity levels in a community, offering a new strategy as public health leaders seek a way out of a pandemic that has so far thwarted the best efforts to end its spread. It is the first study to identify optimal levels of testing in a partially immunized population.

Frog Pandemic (Audio)

Until COVID-19, few people alive today had experienced the chaos and destruction of a really bad pandemic, one that has at times ground businesses, schools and social lives to a near standstill and killed millions globally. But did you know that we aren't alone in being battered by a global infectious disease? Frogs are also struggling through their own pandemic that, according to biologist Kelly Zamudio, has several eerie parallels with COVID-19. Perhaps our own encounters with a pandemic will give us new sympathy for our slimy, bug-eyed friends.

UT Austin's McLellan Receives O'Donnell Award in Medicine

UT Austin structural biologist Jason McLellan, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award in Medicine from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). He was chosen for his breakthrough research in mapping, modifying, and stabilizing coronavirus spike proteins, which paved the way for the creation of leading COVID-19 vaccines.

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered Scientists have found over a thousand versions of a natural gene editor in bacteria, which could lead to better gene editing tools to treat diseases. Image courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute.

Few developments have rocked the biotechnology world or generated as much buzz as the discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems, a breakthrough in gene editing recognized in 2020 with a Nobel Prize. But these systems that naturally occur in bacteria are limited because they can make only small tweaks to genes. In recent years, scientists discovered a different system in bacteria that might lead to even more powerful methods for gene editing, given its unique ability to insert genes or whole sections of DNA in a genome.

UT Austin Harnesses Power of Biology in Partnership with Army Research Laboratory Early last year, Jimmy Gollihar was deep into building a unique facility on the Forty Acres, what he calls "the biological foundry" – a turbo-charged, biotech playground with a focus on rapid scientific discovery. The foundry was to be a key element of a partnership in synthetic biology research between The University of Texas at Austin and the U...
Breakthrough in Fight on Tick-Borne CCHF Virus is Latest Use of New Strategy Against Diseases A 3D atomic map, or structure, of the Gc protein (red and yellow) bound to two antibodies (green, blue and white) produced by a recovered patient. The Gc protein is a key molecule on the surface of the CCHF virus enabling it to infect cells. Credit: Akaash Mishra/University of Texas at Austin

Using the same approach they recently used to create effective vaccine candidates against COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), scientists are tackling another virus: the tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). It causes death in up to 40% of cases, and the World Health Organization identified the disease as one of its top priorities for research and development. The results appear today in the journal Science.

McLellan Honored for Contributions to COVID-19 Vaccines Photo by Vivian Abagiu

Jason McLellan, UT Austin molecular biosciences professor, has received the 2021 Shirley Bird Perry Longhorn Citizenship Award, recognizing the wide-reaching impact of his work with viral proteins, especially his contributions to COVID-19 vaccines. The award is given annually by UT Austin's Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life.