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Infectious Disease News

'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.

Do Sick Animals Socially Distance? (Audio)

When we get sick, we change our social interactions—we keep away from others and we don't share food. It turns out, humans aren't the only species to do it.

Point of Discovery · Do Sick Animals Socially Distance?
New Model Can Help Improve COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Illustration by Jenna Luecke.

Richard Taylor, clinical assistant professor in the School of Human Ecology, co-authored a study published in Frontiers in Public Health which estimated that 1.7 million vaccine doses are needed to reach herd immunity for COVID-19 in Travis County. A new model could help public health officials in Central Texas better manage what amounts to a much larger vaccination campaign than was carried out during the last pandemic.

Scientists Discover How Remdesivir Works to Inhibit Coronavirus Remdesivir is the only antiviral drug approved for use in the U.S. against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Gilead.

More effective antiviral treatments could be on the way after research from The University of Texas at Austin sheds new light on the COVID-19 antiviral drug remdesivir, the only treatment of its kind currently approved in the U.S. for the coronavirus.

Texas Coronavirus Scientists Win Award for Research with ‘Great Societal Benefit’ The world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society has announced that Jason McLellan, a University of Texas at Austin associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, and Daniel Wrapp, a graduate student fellow, were among seven winners of this year's Golden Goose Award. Supported by members of Congress from both parties and a...
New Tool Helps Parents and Educators Estimate COVID-19 Infection Numbers at Their School

With COVID-19 cases hitting new highs across the country, a new online tool can help families and school leaders estimate how many infected people are likely to show up at a school on a given day anywhere in the United States. The free, interactive dashboard was produced by The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

Coronavirus Mutation May Have Made It More Contagious The number of virus strains present in each zip code in Houston during the second wave of COVID-19 cases in summer 2020. Number of strains is represented by a spectrum of colors from blue (0 strains) to red (50 strains). Credit: Houston Methodist/University of Texas at Austin.

A study involving more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston finds that the virus that causes the disease is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. According to the paper published in the peer-reviewed journal mBIO, that mutation, called D614G, is located in the spike protein that pries open our cells for viral entry. It's the largest peer-reviewed study of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences in one metropolitan region of the U.S. to date.