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Infectious Disease News

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.

As Cryo-EM Capabilities Expand, Cool Science at UT Gets a Boost David Taylor with the Glacios cryo-EM. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Imagine biological and chemical imaging tools so advanced that they are able to show the molecular details of a virus as it attaches to and enters cells, or the alignment of vanishingly tiny crystals at an atomic level so as to lend insights for new solar energy technology.

Simulation Reveals How a SARS-CoV-2 ‘Gate’ Opens to Allow COVID Infection

Despite more than a year and a half of research, there are still many unknowns about how the virus that causes COVID-19 infects human cells. A deeper understanding could lead to new treatment approaches.

Bacterial Warfare Provides New Antibiotic Target Pseudomonas bacteria use a kind of harpoon to attack nearby bacteria, injecting them with a toxin that targets a critical molecular machine called the transamidosome complex. Credit: Despoina Mavridou/University of Texas at Austin.

Antibiotic resistance, where disease-causing bacteria evolve resistance to drugs that usually kill them, is a rising problem globally, meaning new antibiotics need to be found. However, it is difficult for researchers to know which parts of bacterial cells to target with new drugs.

Jason McLellan Named 2021 Texas Inventor of the Year

Jason McLellan, a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, has been selected as the 2021 Texas Inventor of the Year for his role in biomedical research linked to the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The award is given annually by the State Bar of Texas's Intellectual Property Law Section in recognition of an individual whose invention "has significantly impacted the Texas economy."

System Linked to Operational Hospitals, Shorter Lockdowns, Lives Saved COVID-19: Risk-Based Guidelines with 7 Day Moving Averages for New Admissions were made available for the Austin metropolitan area as part of a staged alert system. Shown is the City of Austin dashboard for June 16. Credit: City of Austin

A staged alert system, designed by scientists and public health officials to guide local policies, helped one city prevent hospital surges and long lockdowns, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.

'Last Resort' Antibiotic Pops Bacteria Like Balloons A 70-year mystery has finally been solved and the solution could help in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria. A new study led by researchers at Imperial College London, and including UT Austin's Despoina Mavridou, reveals that colistin, a last resort antibiotic "punches holes in bacteria, causing them to pop like balloons." Published i...
Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies An analysis of blood plasma samples from people who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections shows that most of the antibodies circulating in the blood -- on average, about 84% -- target areas of the viral spike protein outside the receptor binding domain (RBD, green), including the N-terminal Domain (NTD, blue) and the S2 subunit (red, yellow). Illustration credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The most complete picture yet is coming into focus of how antibodies produced in people who effectively fight off SARS-CoV-2 work to neutralize the part of the virus responsible for causing infection. In the journal Science, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin describe the finding, which represents good news for designing the next generation of vaccines to protect against variants of the virus or future emerging coronaviruses.

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19 Drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures, according to new study. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/University of Texas at Austin.

Remdesivir is currently the only antiviral drug approved in the U.S. for treating COVID-19 patients. In a paper published this week in Cell Reports, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai showed that four drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures.

Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery Illustration: Jenna Luecke

A highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Scientists first discovered it in early December in the United Kingdom, where the highly contagious and more lethal variant is thought to have originated. The journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has published an early-release version of the study, provides evidence that the coronavirus variant B117 (501Y) had spread across the globe undetected for months when scientists discovered it.