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Infectious Disease News

Ask the COVID-19 Experts (Audio) We asked you, dear listeners, to send us your most burning questions about COVID-19. And you didn't disappoint. You asked: When will it be safe for my 12-week-old baby to meet her grandparents? Can you catch it twice? Is the virus mutating and will that make it harder to develop vaccines? In today's episode, our three experts get to the botto...
Some Bacteria Sacrifice Themselves to Protect their Brethren from Antibiotics

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered how some cells within a bacterial swarm will sacrifice themselves so that other cells in the swarm have a better chance of surviving onslaught by antibiotics, in a discovery important for efforts to address antibiotic resistance.

Early Spread of COVID-19 Appears Far Greater Than Initially Reported

Patients with undiagnosed flu symptoms who actually had COVID-19 last winter were among thousands of undetected early cases of the disease at the beginning of this year. In a new paper in The Lancet's open-access journal EClinicalMedicine, epidemiological researchers from The University of Texas at Austin estimated COVID-19 to be far more widespread in Wuhan, China, and Seattle, Washington, weeks ahead of lockdown measures in each city.

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine An engineered protein developed by UT Austin researchers and their colleagues is a key element of COVID-19 vaccines currently in human trials by Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

The experimental vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that was the first to enter human trials in the United States has been shown to elicit neutralizing antibodies and a helpful T-cell response with the aid of a carefully engineered spike protein that mimics the infection-spreading part of the virus.

New Tool to Guide Decisions on Social Distancing Uses Hospital Data and Emphasizes Protecting the Vulnerable

With communities throughout the United States combating surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University have created a framework that helps policymakers determine which data to track and when to take action to protect their communities. The model specifies a series of trigger points to help local entities know when to tighten social distancing measures to prevent hospitals from being overrun by virus patients. The method also aims to minimize the economic impact to communities by suggesting the earliest times for safely relaxing restrictions.

COVID-19 Vaccine Innovation Could Dramatically Speed Up Worldwide Production Jason S. McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences, left, and graduate student Daniel Wrapp, right, work in the McLellan Lab at The University of Texas at Austin Monday Feb. 17, 2020.

Responding to a need to quickly develop billions of doses of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, a scientific team at The University of Texas at Austin has successfully redesigned a key protein from the coronavirus, and the modification could enable much faster and more stable production of vaccines worldwide.

Discovery about Hep C Drug Offers Insights for Coronavirus Treatments

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have discovered how a certain drug is able to stop viral spread for patients with Hepatitis C, and the finding may have important implications for drug developers seeking to stop other RNA viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine with UT Ties Arrived Quickly After Years in the Making From left: Jason S. McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences, Daniel Wrapp, graduate student, and Nianshuang Wang, research associate, pose for a photo in the McLellan Lab at The University of Texas at Austin Monday Feb. 17, 2020. Credit: Vivian Abagiu.

When the first COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.S. began on March 16, history was being made. Never before had a potential vaccine been developed and produced for human trials so quickly—just 66 days since scientists published the genome sequence of the virus that causes the disease. After news this week that Phase 1 of the vaccine's trial yielded promising results, the same candidate will enter the final phase of human trials later this month. This blindingly fast effort was only possible because a group of scientists and their partners in industry had already invested years in laying the groundwork.

New Sensor May Soon Test for Coronavirus and Flu Simultaneously

The novel coronavirus has been compared to the flu almost from the moment it emerged in late 2019. They share a variety of symptoms, and in many cases, an influenza test is part of the process for diagnosing COVID-19.

Antibodies from a SARS Patient Could Help Fight Coronaviruses Now and in the Future Scientists from UT Austin and elsewhere found many human antibodies that bind to the spike protein of SARS-like viruses. On the left, two copies of an antibody dubbed ADI-55689 (orange) bind two different sites on the spike protein (white). On the right, a different antibody dubbed ADI-56046 (purple) binds another site on the spike protein. These antibody binding sites are close to sites where the spike protein binds to receptors on the surface of human cells (red) and to another monoclonal antibody dubbed CR3022 (light blue).

As terrifying as the current pandemic is, scientists believe some of the hundreds of other known coronaviruses in bats might also have the potential to make the cross-species leap into humans, as this one probably did. Scientists are already thinking about ways to prevent another coronavirus from spiraling out of control. Basic research published in the journal Science provides evidence that an antibody therapy that's effective against all SARS-like coronaviruses is possible.