Discovery Alert

A study conducted by Hiroshima University researchers found that using Ultraviolet C light with a wavelength of 222 nanometers which is safer to use around humans effectively kills SARS-CoV-2 -- the first research in the world to prove its efficacy against the virus that causes COVID-19. Other studies involving 222 nm UVC, also known as Far-UVC, have so far only looked at its potency in eradicating seasonal coronaviruses that are structurally similar to the SARS-CoV-2 but not on the COVID-19-causing virus itself. A nanometer is equivalent to one billionth of a meter. The study is published in the American Journal of Infection Control. Learn More

In the 2019 Boeing 737 Max crash, the recovered black box from the aftermath hinted that a failed pressure sensor may have caused the ill-fated aircraft to nose dive. This incident and others have fueled a larger debate on sensor selection, number and placement to prevent the reoccurrence of such tragedies. Texas A&M University researchers have now developed a comprehensive mathematical framework that can help engineers make informed decisions about which sensors to use and where they must be positioned in aircraft and other machines. The researchers detailed their mathematical framework in the June issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Control System Letters. Learn More

Pity the glycan. These complex sugar molecules are attached to 80% of the proteins in the human body, making them an essential ingredient of life. But this process, known as glycosylation, has been somewhat overshadowed by flashier biomolecular processes such as transcription and translation. Now, researchers at Cornell University led by Matthew DeLisa have introduced new tools to serve this understudied field and advance it forward. The group's paper, "Engineering Orthogonal Human O-linked Glycoprotein Biosynthesis in Bacteria," was recently published in Nature Chemical Biology. Learn More

Researchers have developed an advanced spectrometer that can acquire data with exceptionally high speed. The new spectrometer could be useful for a variety of applications including remote sensing, real-time biological imaging and machine vision. Spectrometers measure the color of light absorbed or emitted from a substance. However, using such systems for complex and detailed measurement typically requires long data acquisition times. In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Express, lead author David R. Carlson and colleagues Daniel D. Hickstein and Papp report the first dual-comb spectrometer with a pulse repetition rate of 10 gigahertz. Learn More

An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule -- phosphine -- in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes -- floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial 'aerial' life. While the discovery of phosphine in Venus's clouds came as a surprise, the researchers are confident in their detection. The study is published in Nature Astronomy. Learn More

A National Institutes of Health-funded study found that people with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. The research, published this week in Molecular Psychiatry, was co-authored by Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The findings suggest that health care providers should closely monitor patients with SUDs and develop action plans to help shield them from infection and severe outcomes. The study population consisted of over 73 million patients, of which over 7.5 million had been diagnosed with an SUD at some point in their lives. Learn More

An antibody test for the virus that causes COVID-19, developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with Houston Methodist and other institutions, is more accurate and can handle a much larger number of donor samples at lower overall cost than standard antibody tests currently in use. In the near term, the test can be used to accurately identify the best donors for convalescent plasma therapy and measure how well candidate vaccines and other therapies elicit an immune response. The work was published this week in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Learn More

Using public transportation, visiting a place of worship, or otherwise traveling from the home is associated with a significantly higher likelihood of testing positive with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, while practicing strict social distancing is associated with a markedly lower likelihood, suggests a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study is believed to be among the first large-scale evaluations of COVID-19-relevant behaviors that is based on individual-level survey data, as opposed to aggregated data from sources such as cellphone apps. The results were recently published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Learn More

Researchers from the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington School of Medicine have used computers to originate new proteins that bind tightly to SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein and obstruct it from infecting cells. Coronaviruses are studded with so-called Spike proteins. These latch onto human cells to enable the virus to break in and infect them. The findings are reported this week in Science. In the experiments, the lead antiviral candidate, named LCB1, rivaled the best-known SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies in its protective actions. The development of drugs that interfere with this entry mechanism could lead to treatment of or even prevention of infection. Learn More

Salk scientists have used skin cells called fibroblasts from young and old patients to successfully create blood vessels cells that retain their molecular markers of age. The team's approach, described in the journal eLife this week, revealed clues as to why blood vessels tend to become leaky and hardened with aging, and lets researchers identify new molecular targets to potentially slow aging in vascular cells. The team is planning future studies to probe the exact molecular mechanisms by which some of the genes they found to change with age control the changes seen in the vasculature. Learn More

As the flu season approaches, a strained public health system may have a surprising ally -- the common cold virus. Rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of common colds, can prevent the flu virus from infecting airways by jumpstarting the body's antiviral defenses, Yale researchers reported on September 4th in the journal The Lancet Microbe. The findings help answer a mystery surrounding the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic: An expected surge in swine flu cases never materialized in Europe during the fall, a period when the common cold becomes widespread. Learn More

When effective COVID-19 vaccines are developed, their supply will inevitably be scarce. The WHO, global leaders, and vaccine producers are already facing the question of how to appropriately allocate them across countries. And while there is vocal commitment to "fair and equitable" distribution, what exactly does "fair and equitable" look like in practice? Now, nineteen global health experts from around the world have proposed a new, three-phase plan for vaccine distribution -- called the Fair Priority Model -- which aims to reduce premature deaths and other irreversible health consequences from COVID-19. It has been published this week in Science. Learn More

A bioengineering technique to boost production of specific proteins could be the basis of an effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, new research suggests. Scientists manipulated a natural cellular process to ramp up levels of two proteins used by the virus to infect other cells, packaged the protein-boosting instructions in nanoparticles and injected them into mice. Within a month, the mice had developed antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The technique involves altering specific sequences of messenger RNA, molecules that translate genetic information into functional proteins. The study is published this week in the journal Advanced Materials. Learn More

A weak immune response isn't the cause of dangerous lung failure in severe Covid-19 infections. Such infections seem, on the contrary, to be caused by an overreaction of the immune system. This is the conclusion made by a research team from Marien Hospital and the department of Virology of Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) as well as the Clinic for Infectious Diseases, the Clinic of Anesthesiology and the Institute for Virology of University Medicine Essen which studied specific antibodies and T cells occurring in recovered, seriously ill and deceased Covid-19 patients. The researchers identified comparable immune reactions in clinical follow up. They report their findings in the journal Cell Reports Medicine. Learn More

The evidence is in: Nice guys and gals don't finish last and being a selfish jerk doesn't get you ahead. That's the clear conclusion from research that tracked disagreeable people from college or graduate school to where they landed in their careers about 14 years later. "I was surprised by the consistency of the findings. No matter the individual or the context, disagreeableness did not give people an advantage in the competition for power -- even in more cutthroat, 'dog-eat-dog' organizational cultures," said Berkeley Haas Prof. Cameron Anderson, who co-authored the study. The paper was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Learn More

A new type of breast cancer drug developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago can help halt progression of disease and is not toxic, according to phase 1 clinical trials. The drug is specifically designed for women whose cancer has stopped responding to hormone therapy. The results are published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Learn More

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown way that some bacteria produce the chemical ethylene -- a finding that could lead to new ways to produce plastics without using fossil fuels. The study, published this week in the journal Science, showed that the bacteria created ethylene gas as a byproduct of metabolizing sulfur, which they need to survive. But the process that the bacteria use to do that could make it very valuable in manufacturing, said Justin North, lead author of the study and a research scientist in microbiology at The Ohio State University. Researchers from Ohio State worked on the study with colleagues from Colorado State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Learn More

Humans are not the only species facing a potential threat from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to a new study from the University of California, Davis. An international team of scientists used genomic analysis to compare the main cellular receptor for the virus in humans -- angiotensin converting enzyme-2, or ACE2 -- in 410 different species of vertebrates, including birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. About 40 percent of the species potentially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 are classified as "threatened" and may be especially vulnerable to human-to-animal transmission. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Learn More

With over 170,000 COVID-19 deaths to date, and 1,000 more each day, America's life expectancy may appear to be plummeting. But in estimating the magnitude of the pandemic, University of California, Berkeley, demographers have found that COVID-19 is likely to shorten the average U.S. lifespan in 2020 by only about a year. Their findings, published online last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, conclude that 1 million deaths in 2020 would cut three years off the average U.S. life expectancy, while 250,000 deaths would reduce lifespans by about a year. Learn More

Many diseases caused by bacterial infections -- such as pneumonia, meningitis or septicaemia -- are successfully treated with antibiotics. However, bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics which then leaves doctors struggling to find effective treatments. Particularly problematic are pathogens which develop multi-drug resistance and are unaffected by most antibiotics. Scientists all over the world are therefore engaged in the search for new antibiotics. Researchers at the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute have announced a promising new approach involving "antivitamins" to develop new classes of antibiotics. The results were published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. Learn More

Researchers may have come one step closer toward understanding how the immune system contributes to severe COVID-19. In a study published in Science Immunology, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show that so-called natural killer (NK) cells were strongly activated early after SARS-CoV-2 infection but that the type of activation differed in patients with moderate and severe COVID-19. The discovery contributes to our understanding of development of hyperinflammation in some patients. Learn More

The release of massive amounts of proteins called cytokines can lead to some of the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. When large numbers of immune cells release cytokines, this increases inflammation and creates a feedback loop in which more immune cells are activated and this is sometimes called a cytokine storm. An August 19th study in the journal Cell now suggests that high levels of some cytokines may also prevent people who are infected from developing long-term immunity as affected patients were observed to make very few of the type of B cells needed to develop a durable immune response. Learn More

A robust, low-cost imaging platform utilizing lab-on-a-chip technology created by University of California, Irvine scientists may be available for rapid coronavirus diagnostic and antibody testing throughout the nation by the end of the year. The UCI system can go a long way toward the deployment of a vaccine for COVID-19 and toward reopening the economy, as both require widespread testing for the virus and its antibodies. So far, antibody testing in the U.S. has been too inaccurate or expensive to reach the necessary numbers. Their discovery appears in the journal Lab on a Chip, which is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Learn More

Many people beat the summer heat by cranking the air conditioning. However, air conditioners guzzle power and spew out millions of tons of carbon dioxide daily. They're also not always good for your health -- constant exposure to central A/C can increase risks of recirculating germs and causing breathing problems. There's a better alternative, say a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia, Princeton University, the University of California, Berkeley and the Singapore-ETH Centre. They call it the Cold Tube, and they have shown it works. Learn More

A Rutgers-led team may have found the key to treating inflammatory diseases like asthma, allergies, chronic fibrosis and COPD. In a study published in the journal Nature Immunology, researchers discovered that neuromedin B (NMB), a protein produced by the nervous system, was responsible for preventing overactive immune responses and damaging inflammation. An immune response refers to the body's ability to recognize and defend itself against harmful substances. Although beneficial to help clear infections, an immune response can also promote damaging inflammation if not properly restricted. Learn More

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a set of modifiable factors from a field of over 100 that could represent valuable targets for preventing depression in adults. In a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, the team named social connection as the strongest protective factor for depression and suggested that reducing sedentary activities such as TV watching, and daytime napping could also help lower the risk of depression. The study demonstrates an important new approach for evaluating a wide range of modifiable factors and using this evidence to prioritize targets for preventive interventions for depression. Learn More

Researchers at the University of Delaware, using supercomputing resources and collaborating with scientists at Indiana University, have gained new understanding of the virus that causes hepatitis B and the "spiky ball" that encloses the virus's genetic blueprint. The research, which has been published online, ahead of print, by the American Chemical Association journal ACS Chemical Biology, provides insights into how the capsid -- a protein shell that protects the blueprint and also drives the delivery of it to infect a host cell -- assembles itself. Learn More

Inspired by a unique kind of infection-fighting antibody found in llamas, a research team at the UCSF has synthesized a molecule that they say is among the most potent anti-coronavirus compounds tested in a lab to date. Called nanobodies because they are about a quarter of the size of antibodies found in people and most other animals, these molecules can nestle into the nooks and crannies of proteins to block viruses from attaching to and infecting cells. The lab-made one created by the UCSF team is so stable it can be converted into a dry powder and aerosolized, meaning it would be much easier to administer than Covid-19 treatments being developed using human monoclonal antibodies. Learn More

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers at Duke University report that a simple, low-cost technique provided visual proof that face masks are effective in reducing droplet emissions during normal wear. They found that the best face coverings were N95 masks without valves -- the hospital-grade coverings that are used by front-line health care workers. Surgical or polypropylene masks also performed well. Hand-made cotton face coverings provided good coverage, eliminating a substantial amount of the spray from normal speech. But bandanas and neck fleeces such as balaclavas didn't block the droplets much at all. Learn More

Sars-Cov-2 viruses can be inactivated using certain commercially available mouthwashes. This was demonstrated in cell culture experiments by virologists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum together with colleagues from Jena, Ulm, Duisburg-Essen, Nuremberg and Bremen. High viral loads can be detected in the oral cavity and throat of some Covid-19 patients. The use of mouthwashes that are effective against Sars-Cov-2 could thus help to reduce the viral load and possibly the risk of coronavirus transmission over the short term. This could be useful, for example, prior to dental treatments. However, mouth rinses are not suitable for treating Covid-19 infections or protecting yourself against catching the virus. Learn More

Discovering antiviral and anticancer drugs will soon be faster and cheaper thanks to new research from Simon Fraser University chemist Robert Britton and his international team. For the past 50 years, scientists have used humanmade, synthetic and nucleoside analogues to create drug therapies for diseases that involve the cellular division and/or the viral reproduction of infected cells. These diseases include hepatitis, herpes simplex, HIV and cancer. But, says Britton, "That process has been intensive and challenging, limiting and preventing the discovery of new drug therapies." Now, using the new process, scientists can create new nucleoside analogues months earlier than with the previous method, paving the way for quicker drug discoveries. A paper on this research was recently published in the journal Science. Learn More

Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction -- rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition. Experts from the Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the University of Bonn, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and the German Center for Infection Research, along with colleagues from a nationwide research network, present these findings in the scientific journal Cell. Learn More

Global changes in land use are disrupting the balance of wild animal communities in our environment, and species that carry diseases known to infect humans appear to be benefiting, finds a new UCL-led study. The findings, published in Nature, may have implications for future spillovers of diseases originating in animal hosts. The research team, led by the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, studied evidence from 6,801 ecological communities from six continents, and found that animals known to carry pathogens that can infect humans were more common in landscapes intensively used by people. The researchers say we may need to alter how we use land across the world to reduce the risk of future spillovers of infectious diseases. Learn More

One of the immune system's oldest branches, called complement, may be influencing the severity of COVID disease, according to a new study from researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Among other findings linking complement to COVID, the researchers found that people with age-related macular degeneration -- a disorder caused by overactive complement -- are at greater risk of developing severe complications and dying from COVID. The connection with complement suggests that existing drugs that inhibit the complement system could help treat patients with severe disease. The study was published this week in Nature Medicine. Learn More

Virologists in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University have published a study showing a possible therapeutic treatment for COVID-19. The study, "3C-like protease inhibitors block coronavirus replication in vitro and improve survival in MERS-CoV-infected mice," appears in this week's issue of the medical journal Science Translational Medicine. It reveals how small molecule protease inhibitors show potency against human coronaviruses. These coronavirus 3C-like proteases, known as 3CLpro, are strong therapeutic targets because they play vital roles in coronavirus replication. Learn More

A research collaboration involving Monash University has made an exciting discovery that may eventually lead to targeted treatments to combat drug-resistant bacterial infections, one of the greatest threats to global health. The study, led by Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute's Associate Professor Fasséli Coulibaly and Professor Trevor Lithgow is published in Nature Communications. It outlines the use of high-resolution imaging to uncover how viruses known as phages can attack and kill Salmonella Typhi, the causative agent of typhoid, providing scientists with a new understanding of how they can be used in the ongoing fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Learn More

An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson protected monkeys from infection in a new study. It is the second vaccine candidate to show promising results in monkeys this week. The company recently began a clinical trial in Europe and the United States to test its vaccine in people. It is one of more than 30 human trials for coronavirus vaccines underway across the world. But until these trials are complete - which will probably take several months - the monkey data offers the best clues to whether the vaccines will work. Unlike other vaccines in development that require two injections, the J&J candidate shielded the monkeys with just one dose. The study is published in this week's Nature. Learn More

In research that aims to illuminate the causes of human developmental disorders, Salk scientists have generated 168 new maps of chemical marks on strands of DNA, called methylation, in developing mice. The data, published this week in a special edition of Nature devoted to the ENCODE Project, can help narrow down regions of the human genome that play roles in diseases such as schizophrenia and Rett Syndrome. In the new work, researchers used experimental technologies and computational algorithms that they previously developed to study the DNA methylation patterns of cells in samples of a dozen types of tissues from mice over eight developmental stages. Learn More

Hokkaido University researchers have found a soft and wet material that can memorize, retrieve, and forget information, much like the human brain. They report their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In this study, the researchers placed a thin hydrogel between two plastic plates; the top plate had a shape or letters cut out, leaving only that area of the hydrogel exposed. For example, patterns included an airplane and the word "GEL." They initially placed the gel in a cold water bath to establish equilibrium. Then they moved the gel to a hot bath. The gel absorbed water into its structure causing a swell, but only in the exposed area. Learn More

With advances in genome sequencing, cancer treatments have increasingly sought to leverage the idea of "synthetic lethality," exploiting cancer-specific genetic defects to identify targets that are uniquely essential to the survival of cancer cells. Synthetic lethality results when non-lethal mutations in different genes become deadly when combined in cells. In a new paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that inhibiting a key enzyme caused human cancer cells associated with two major types of breast and ovarian cancer to die and in mouse studies reduced tumor growth. Learn More

Temporary loss of smell, or anosmia, is the main neurological symptom and one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of COVID-19. Studies suggest it better predicts the disease than other well-known symptoms such as fever and cough, but the underlying mechanisms for loss of smell in patients with COVID-19 have been unclear. Now, an international team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School has identified the olfactory cell types most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Their findings can be found in the July 24th, 2020 edition of Science Advances. Learn More

Some supposedly inert ingredients in common drugs -- such as dyes and preservatives -- may potentially be biologically active and could lead to unanticipated side effects, according to a preliminary new study by researchers from the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). As reported in their new study, published this week online in Science, the researchers have now systematically screened 3296 excipients contained in the inactive ingredient database, and identified 38 excipient molecules that interact with 134 important human enzymes and receptors. Learn More

Airborne and potentially deadly, the virus that causes COVID-19 can only be studied safely under high-level biosafety conditions. While necessary to protect laboratory workers, these safety precautions slow down efforts to find drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 since many scientists lack access to the required biosafety facilities. To help remedy that, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a hybrid virus by swapping one of its genes for one from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The resulting hybrid virus infects cells and is recognized by antibodies just like SARS-CoV-2 but can be handled under ordinary laboratory safety conditions. Learn More

The University of Oxford's possible COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty, the lead developer of the vaccine said this week. The experimental vaccine, which has been licensed to AstraZeneca, produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data shows, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of 2020. "The end of the year target for getting vaccine roll-out, it's a possibility but there's absolutely no certainty about that because we need three things to happen," says a spokesperson. Learn More

Respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze travel farther and last longer in humid, cold climates than in hot, dry ones, according to a study on droplet physics by an international team of engineers. The researchers incorporated this understanding of the impact of environmental factors on droplet spread into a new mathematical model that can be used to predict the early spread of respiratory viruses including COVID-19, and the role of respiratory droplets in that spread. The team developed this new model to better understand the role that droplet clouds play in the spread of respiratory viruses. Their model is the first to be based on a fundamental approach taken to study chemical reactions called collision rate theory. Learn More

In a discovery that could advance the worldwide effort to limit the community spread of COVID-19 through robust contact tracing, researchers were able to identify recent COVID-19 cases using 25 microlitres of plasma from blood samples. The research team, led by BioPRIA and Monash University's Chemical Engineering Department, including researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent BioNano Science and Technology (CBNS),developed a simple agglutination assay - an analysis to determine the presence and amount of a substance in blood - to detect the presence of antibodies raised in response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Learn More

Phase I data from the COVID-19 vaccine under development by AstraZeneca and Oxford University's Jenner Institute is showing a robust defense against the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 13 million people across the globe. This week, U.K. media began to report hints of data from the early-stage study of the vaccine candidate that was provided by an unnamed "senior source." The Telegraph reported the vaccine candidate is producing both antibodies and Killer T cells in healthy patients who received the medication. That double defense could be critical, particularly as some reports suggest that antibodies developed in recovered COVID-19 patients may not be lasting. Learn More

Biomolecular engineers at Rice University have found a C-worthy technique that dramatically enhances the accuracy of gene editing. The Rice lab of biomolecular engineer Xue Sherry Gao has introduced a set of tools that increase the accuracy of CRISPR-based edits in disease sequence models up to 6,000-fold compared with a current base editor, BE4max, that is considered state-of-the-art. The work appears in the open-access journal Science Advances. Learn More

An investigational vaccine, mRNA-1273, designed to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), was generally well tolerated and prompted neutralizing antibody activity in healthy adults, according to interim results published online this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The ongoing Phase 1 trial is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The experimental vaccine is being co-developed by researchers at NIAID and at Moderna, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Learn More

One day, people could monitor their own health conditions by simply picking up a pencil and drawing a bioelectronic device on their skin. In a new study, University of Missouri engineers demonstrated that the simple combination of pencils and paper could be used to create devices that might be used to monitor personal health. Their findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Learn More

BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin predicts the company's vaccine for COVID-19, which is it co-developing with Pfizer, could be ready for regulatory approval by the end of the year, with hundreds of millions of doses available for immediate distribution.In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Sahin talked about the progress the companies have made on their vaccine candidate and said their manufacturing capabilities could provide about one billion doses of the preventative drug by the end of 2021. The vaccine candidate is expected to initiate Phase III studies by the end of this month with about 30,000 patients. Learn More

The CRISPR system is a powerful tool for the targeted editing of genomes, with significant therapeutic potential, but runs the risk of inappropriately editing "off-target" sites. However, a new study publishing July 9, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Feng Gu of Wenzhou Medical University, China, and colleagues, shows that mutating the enzyme at the heart of the CRISPR gene editing system can improve its fidelity. The results may provide a therapeutically safer strategy for gene editing than using the unmodified enzyme system. Learn More

With N95 masks in short supply, a team of bioengineers and clinical experts from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been developing a new, sustainable solution for health care workers to provide protection during the pandemic. Made from sterilizable materials and known as the Injection Molded Autoclavable, Scalable, Conformable (iMASC) system, the team's N95 mask alternative is still in its prototyping stage. But early results from modeling and a feasibility study for fit testing suggest that the iMASC system could fit faces of different sizes and shapes and be sterilized for reuse. Preliminary findings are published in the British Medical Journal Open. Learn More

Frailty and immune decline are two main features of old age. Researchers from the University of Bern and the University Hospital Bern now demonstrate in an animal model that these two age-related impairments can be halted and even partially reversed using a novel cell-based therapeutic approach. The findings of this study have been published in the scientific journal Nature Metabolism and were further highlighted by a News and Views editorial article. Learn More

In a forthcoming paper, "It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19," 239 scientists from more than 30 countries are pushing the WHO to pay more attention to the possible airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. At this time, the WHO and other public health organizations' guidelines refer to primary spread of the virus on droplets expelled when people with the disease sneeze, cough, or potentially speak loudly or sing. These are on "large respiratory droplets," and once they are expelled, they quickly fall to the ground. However, the researchers believe that airborne transmission via aerosolized particles, much smaller particles that can hang in the air, is more common than originally believed. Learn More

Research recently published in the journal Cell shows that a specific change in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus virus genome, previously associated with increased viral transmission and the spread of COVID-19, is more infectious in cell culture. The variant in question, D614G, makes a small but effective change in the virus's 'Spike' protein, which the virus uses to enter human cells. Two independent lines of experimental evidence that support these initial results are included in the paper. These additional experiments showed that the D614G change increases the virus's infectivity in the laboratory. Learn More

SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing the global COVID-19 pandemic, uses a protein called polymerase to replicate its genome inside infected human cells. Terminating the polymerase reaction will stop the growth of the coronavirus, leading to its eradication by the human host's immune system. Researchers at Columbia Engineering and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have identified a library of molecules that shut down the SARS-CoV-2 polymerase reaction, a key step that establishes the potential of these molecules as lead compounds to be further modified for the development of COVID-19 therapeutics. The new study was recently published in Antiviral Research. Learn More

Changes in blood platelets triggered by COVID-19 could contribute to the onset of heart attacks, strokes, and other serious complications in some patients who have the disease, according to University of Utah Health scientists. The researchers found that inflammatory proteins produced during infection significantly alter the function of platelets, making them "hyperactive" and more prone to form dangerous and potentially deadly blood clots. Their report appears in Blood, an American Society of Hematology journal. Learn More

Staring at a deep red light for three minutes a day can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a new UCL-led study, the first of its kind in humans. Scientists believe the discovery, published in the Journals of Gerontology, could signal the dawn of new affordable home-based eye therapies, helping the millions of people globally with naturally declining vision. Professor Jeffery said: "Our study shows that it is possible to significantly improve vision that has declined in aged individuals using simple brief exposures to light wavelengths that recharge the energy system that has declined in the retina cells, rather like re-charging a battery." Learn More

Chemically engineered peptides, designed and developed by a team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, could prove valuable in the battle against some of the most persistent human health challenges. The team's findings, recently published in Nature Scientific Reports, demonstrate how researchers can engineer peptides capable of selectively and specifically binding to polysialic acid (PSA) -- a carbohydrate that is present in many human cells and plays a key role in various physiological and pathological processes, including neurological development and disease progression. Learn More

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that a single treatment to inhibit a gene called PTB in mice converts native astrocytes, brain support cells, into neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. As a result, the mice's Parkinson's disease symptoms disappear. The treatment works like this: The researchers developed a noninfectious virus that carries an antisense oligonucleotide sequence -- an artificial piece of DNA designed to specifically bind the RNA coding for PTB, thus degrading it, preventing it from being translated into a functional protein and stimulating neuron development. The study is published this week in Nature. Learn More

More than 99.9% of seasonal coronaviruses present in airborne droplets were killed when exposed to a particular wavelength of ultraviolet light that is safe to use around humans, a new study at Columbia University Irving Medical Center has found. "Based on our results, continuous airborne disinfection with far-UVC light at the current regulatory limit could greatly reduce the level of airborne virus in indoor environments occupied by people," says the study's lead author David Brenner, PhD. The research was published today in Scientific Reports. The researchers had previously shown that far-UVC light can safely kill airborne influenza viruses. Learn More

Some common strains of influenza have the potential to mutate to evade broad-acting antibodies that could be elicited by a universal flu vaccine, according to a study led by scientists at Scripps Research. The findings highlight the challenges involved in designing such a vaccine, and should be useful in guiding its development. In the study, published in Science, the researchers found evidence that one of the most common flu subtypes, H3N2, can mutate relatively easily to escape two antibodies that were thought to block nearly all flu strains. Yet they found that it is much more difficult for another common subtype, H1N1, to escape from the same broadly neutralizing antibodies. Learn More

Many epidemiologists believe that the initial COVID-19 infection rate was undercounted due to testing issues, asymptomatic and alternatively symptomatic individuals, and a failure to identify early cases. Now, a new study from Penn State estimates that the number of early COVID-19 cases in the U.S. may have been more than 80 times greater and doubled nearly twice as fast as originally believed. In a paper published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers estimated the detection rate of symptomatic COVID-19 cases using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza-like illnesses (ILI) surveillance data over a three week period in March 2020. Learn More

Treating a rare type of malignant lung cancer could improve, thanks to near-infrared irradiation and a cancer-targeting compound. Nagoya University oncologist Kazuhide Sato and colleagues tested the treatment and published their findings in the journal Cells. Sato and colleagues investigated the effectiveness of near-infrared photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT) as a treatment strategy for MPM. NIR-PIT has been fast-tracked for approval by the US FDA for treatment of a type of malignant head and neck tumor. For NIR-PIT to work, a cancer-targeting compound must first be injected. The compound is made of an antibody, which targets a specific structure on the cancer cells, and a photoabsorber, called IR700. Learn More

In the first study to look at objective measures of sedentary behavior and cancer mortality, researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that greater inactivity was independently associated with a higher risk of dying from cancer. The most sedentary individuals had an 82% higher risk of cancer mortality compared to the least sedentary individuals. Researchers also found that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with physical activity was associated with a 31% lower risk of cancer death for moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling, and an 8% lower risk of cancer death for light-intensity activity, such as walking. Learn More

In a series of experiments using human cancer cell lines, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have successfully used light as a trigger to make precise cuts in genomic material rapidly, using a molecular scalpel known as CRISPR, and observe how specialized cell proteins repair the exact spot where the gene was cut. Results of the experiments, published in Science, not only reveal new details about the DNA repair process, but also are likely, the researchers say, to speed up and aid understanding of the DNA activity that typically causes aging and many cancers. Learn More

Like finding that needle in the haystack every time, your T cells manage what seems like an improbable task: quickly finding a few invaders among the many imposters in your body to trigger its immune response. T cells have to react fast and do so nearly perfectly to protect people from diseases. But first, they need a little "me" time. Rice University researchers suggest that has to do with how T cells "relax" in the process of binding to ligands -- short, functional molecules -- that are either attached to the invaders or just resemble them. The researchers' study appears in the Biophysical Journal. Learn More

A team led by Scripps Research has discovered antibodies in the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients that provide powerful protection against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease, when tested in animals and human cell cultures. The research, published this week in Science, offers a paradigm of swift reaction to an emergent and deadly viral pandemic, and sets the stage for clinical trials and additional tests of the antibodies, which are now being produced as potential treatments and preventives for COVID-19. Learn More

A study by a team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University professor has found that not wearing a face mask dramatically increases a person's chances of being infected by the COVID-19 virus. Renyi Zhang, Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and the Harold J. Haynes Chair in the College of Geosciences, and colleagues from the University of Texas, the University of California-San Diego and the California Institute of Technology have had their work published in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Learn More

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in everything from higher cognitive functions to motor control, motivation, arousal, reinforcement, and sexual gratification, the receptors it acts on have been a longstanding target for treating disorders like Parkinson's disease, which is caused by the degeneration of dopamine-using neurons that control movement. The problem is that for at least two decades, no-one has been able to "see" what a dopamine receptor looks like when it is activated by dopamine -- at least not in high enough resolution to offer avenues for designing drugs that can target the receptors effectively. In a major collaborative study published in Nature, scientists from the lab of Patrick Barth at EPFL, with colleagues at UTSW and UCSD have now worked out the high-resolution structure of an activated form of a dopamine receptor in a native lipid membrane environment. Learn More

A good vitamin D status is beneficial both in cancer prevention and in the prognosis of several cancers, according to a new research review. The anti-cancer effects of vitamin D are especially pronounced in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer and blood cancers. In addition, high vitamin D responsiveness can be linked to a smaller cancer risk. Vitamin D responsiveness varies between individuals, affecting their need for vitamin D supplementation. The review article is published in Seminars in Cancer Biology. Learn More

Virus DNA left on a hospital bed rail was found in nearly half of all sites sampled across a ward within 10 hours and persisted for at least five days, according to a new study by UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). The study, published as a letter in the Journal of Hospital Infection, aimed to safely simulate how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, may spread across surfaces in a hospital. Instead of using the SARS-CoV-2 virus, researchers artificially replicated a section of DNA from plant-infecting virus, which cannot infect humans, and added it to a millilitre of water at a similar concentration to SARS-CoV-2 copies found in infected patients' respiratory samples. Learn More

Computer scientists have developed a way to measure staff comfort and concentration in flexible working spaces using artificial intelligence. While hot desking and activity-based working allow cost savings and greater flexibility -- and are said to increase staff collaboration and satisfaction -- studies also show the noise and lack of privacy can be distracting. With coronavirus restrictions beginning to ease in some parts of the world and employers planning the return to office-based work, a new sensor-based system developed by RMIT and Arup can offer insights on how to get the best out of these flexible working spaces. Learn More

Young patients with no risk factors for stroke may have an increased risk if they have contracted COVID-19, whether or not they are showing symptoms of the disease. Surgeons at Thomas Jefferson University and collaborators analyzed patients presenting with stroke from March 20th until April 10th at their institutions. The strokes they observed were unlike what they usually see. "We were seeing patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s with massive strokes, the kind that we typically see in patients in their 70s and 80s," says Pascal Jabbour, MD, Chief of the Division of Neurovascular Surgery and Endovascular Surgery. The study is published in the journal Neurosurgery. Learn More

Scientists have tried to develop synthetic red blood cells that mimic the favorable properties of natural ones, such as flexibility, oxygen transport and long circulation times. But so far, most artificial red blood cells have had one or a few, but not all, key features of the natural versions. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Nano have made synthetic red blood cells that have all of the cells' natural abilities, plus a few new ones. The researchers made the synthetic cells by first coating donated human RBCs with a thin layer of silica. They layered positively and negatively charged polymers over the silica-RBCs, and then etched away the silica, producing flexible replicas. Finally, the team coated the surface of the replicas with natural RBC membranes. Learn More

Researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine identified a gene that causes an aggressive form of breast cancer to rapidly grow. More importantly, they have also discovered a way to "turn it off" and inhibit cancer from occurring. The animal study results have been so compelling that the team is now working on FDA approval to begin clinical trials and has published details in the journal Scientific Reports. The team led by Dr. Reza Izadpanah examined the role two genes, including one whose involvement in cancer was discovered by Tulane researchers, play in causing triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). TNBC is considered to be the most aggressive of breast cancers, with a much poorer prognosis for treatment and survival. Learn More

It is well known that rates of transmission of some respiratory viruses, including influenza, tend to fall during the summer months. As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, questions have been raised about whether warming temperatures, humidity and UV index might slow, or even halt, the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. To answer these questions, researchers at Mount Auburn Hospital looked at the impact of temperature, precipitation, and UV index on COVID-19 case rates in the United States during the spring months of 2020. Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the findings reveal that while the rate of COVID-19 incidence does decrease with warmer temperatures up until 52 degrees F, further warmer temperatures do not decrease disease transmission significantly. Learn More

A team of scientists studying the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic, found that it was especially well-suited to jump from animals to humans by shapeshifting as it gained the ability to infect human cells. Conducting a genetic analysis, researchers from Duke University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Texas at El Paso and New York University confirmed that the closest relative of the virus was a coronavirus that infects bats. But that virus's ability to infect humans was gained through exchanging a critical gene fragment from a coronavirus that infects a scaly mammal called a pangolin, which made it possible for the virus to infect humans. Learn More

In proteins, amino acids are held together by amide bonds. These bonds are long-lived and are robust against changes in temperature, acidity or alkalinity. Certain medicines make use of reactions involving amide bonds, but the bonds are so strong they actually slow down reactions, impeding the effectiveness of the medicines. Researchers have now devised a way to modify amide bonds with a twist to their chemical structure that speeds up reactions by 14 times. This could be of great benefit to various medical researchers in the fields of drug development and more. Learn More

Research from Karolinska Institutet published this week in Nature shows that an RNA molecule involved in preventing tumour formation can change its structure and thereby control protein production in the cell. The finding can have important clinical implications as it opens for new strategies to treat different types of cancer. The researchers studied a microRNA known as miR-34a, which plays an important role in cancer by indirectly regulating the activity of the p53 protein, known as the guardian of the genome for its ability to prevent cancer formation. Changes in the function of p53 are very common in human cancers. Learn More

In a new study, the researchers discovered how the protein PP2A works at the molecular level, and how it inhibits the development of tumours in mice. The new results have been published in the scientific journal, the EMBO Journal. According to the researchers, there is a great deal of interest from both the academic research community and from the pharmaceutical industry for the protein PP2A because it is well-known that PP2A is a so-called tumour suppressor that suppresses tumours. But precisely which proteins PP2A regulates in order to inhibit cancer have so far not been known. Now, the researchers have gained detailed insight into this. Learn More

Scientists from the UK, Europe and the USA, including experts from the University of Birmingham, have published a vitamin D consensus paper warning against high doses of vitamin D supplementation. According to the study, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to show vitamin D can be beneficial in preventing or treating Covid-19. Its authors advise that the population adhere to Public Health England guidance on supplementation. Following unverified reports that high doses of vitamin D could reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 and be used to successfully treat the virus, the new report published in the journal BMJ, Nutrition, Prevention and Health, investigated the current scientific evidence base on the vitamin and its use in treating infections. Learn More

Healthcare workers in Britain and Thailand have started taking part in a trial to determine whether two anti-malarial drugs can prevent COVID-19. The study, involving more than 40,000 healthcare workers across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, seeks to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could play a role in the fight against the novel coronavirus. The lead investigators in Thailand and Britain said their 'COPCOV' trial, in the works for several months, would cut through the heated and unhelpful debate. Learn More

Scientists have collected plenty of evidence linking exercise to brain health, with some research suggesting fitness may even improve memory. But what happens during exercise to trigger these benefits? New UT Southwestern research that mapped brain changes after one year of aerobic workouts has uncovered a potentially critical process: Exercise boosts blood flow into two key regions of the brain associated with memory. Notably, the study showed this blood flow can help even older people with memory issues improve cognition, a finding that scientists say could guide future Alzheimer's disease research. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Learn More

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans a nationwide study of up to 325,000 people to track how the new coronavirus is spreading across the country into next year and beyond. The CDC study, to be formally announced this week, is expected to launch in June or July, and will test samples from blood donors in 25 metropolitan areas for antibodies created when the immune system fights the coronavirus. To gain insights into how antibodies evolve over time, this study will remain in the field for over 18 months said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. Learn More

When bacteria such as Salmonella or Yersinia cause fever, diarrhea or abdominal pain, tiny "injection needles" are at work: their type 3 secretion system, or T3SS for short, shoots bacterial virulence proteins directly into the eukaryotic host cells. Researchers have thought of using bacterial injection devices to introduce proteins into eukaryotic cells. A Max Planck research team has now succeeded in controlling the injection system optogenetically, i.e. with light. In the future this will enable to use the system in biotechnological or medical applications. Learn More

Sorrento Therapeutics has announced that an antibody it is developing has shown an ability to block coronavirus infection of healthy cells in the laboratory. STI-1499 is one of about a dozen antibody candidates the company says has demonstrated the ability to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection of human cells. Sorrento Therapeutics said STI-1499 "completely neutralized the virus infectivity at a very low antibody dose, making it a prime candidate for further testing and development." The announcement came one week after the company said it was collaborating with Mount Sinai Health System to develop an "antibody cocktail" called COVI-SHIELD to potentially treat COVID-19. Learn More

Fatty food may feel like a friend during these troubled times, but new research suggests that eating just one meal high in saturated fat can hinder our ability to concentrate -- not great news for people whose diets have gone south while they're working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study compared how 51 women performed on a test of their attention after they ate either a meal high in saturated fat or the same meal made with sunflower oil, which is high in unsaturated fat. The loss of focus after a single meal was eye-opening for the researchers. Learn More

Masks, gowns, and other PPE are essential for protecting healthcare workers. However, the textiles and materials used in such items can absorb and carry viruses and bacteria, inadvertently spreading the disease the wearer sought to contain. When the coronavirus spread amongst healthcare professionals and left PPE in short supply, finding a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items became paramount. Research from the LAMP Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering may have a solution. The lab has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Learn More

The goal of a vaccine is to trigger a response that safely protects against an infection and/or the burden of disease. While this is true for all vaccines, the steps leading to a safe and effective product can be different for each infection. In the case of COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have found that vaccine design can face specific challenges and that vaccine development approaches require an understanding of how the immune system naturally responds to a specific infection as well as how vaccines might trigger specific protective responses. Learn More

Children, teens and young adults are at greater risk for severe complications from COVID-19 than previously thought and those with underlying health conditions are at even greater risk, according to a study coauthored by a Rutgers researcher. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, is the first to describe the characteristics of seriously ill pediatric COVID-19 patients in North America. The study followed 48 children and young adults -- from newborns to 21 years old -- who were admitted to pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in the United States and Canada for COVID-19 in March and April. Learn More

With a discovery that could rewrite the immunology textbooks, an international group of scientists, including the teams of Bart Lambrecht, Martin Guilliams, Hamida Hammad, and Charlotte Scott (all from the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) identified a new type of antigen-presenting immune cell. These cells, that are part of an expanding family of dendritic cells, play a crucial role presenting antigens to other immune cells during respiratory virus infections, and could explain how convalescent plasma helps to boost immune responses in virus-infected patients. Learn More

After studying global data from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, researchers have discovered a strong correlation between severe vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates. Led by Northwestern University, the research team conducted a statistical analysis of data from hospitals and clinics across China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States. The researchers noted that patients from countries with high COVID-19 mortality rates, such as Italy, Spain and the UK, had lower levels of vitamin D compared to patients in countries that were not as severely affected. The research is available on medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences. Learn More

By analyzing virus genomes from over 7,500 people infected with Covid-19, a UCL-led research team has characterized patterns of diversity of SARS-CoV-2 virus genome, offering clues to direct drugs and vaccine targets. The study, led by the UCL Genetics Institute, identified close to 200 recurrent genetic mutations in the virus, highlighting how it may be adapting and evolving to its human hosts. Researchers found that a large proportion of the global genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 is found in all hardest-hit countries, suggesting extensive global transmission from early on in the epidemic and the absence of single 'Patient Zeroes' in most countries. The findings were published this week in Infection, Genetics and Evolution. Learn More

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, N95 face masks have been in short supply. Health care workers, in particular, desperately need these masks to protect themselves from the respiratory droplets of infected patients. But because of the shortage, many have to wear the same mask repeatedly. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended several methods for disinfecting N95 masks, such as heating, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and bleach treatment, but so far they have not been tested extensively, especially for multiple rounds of disinfection. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Nano have tested several methods for disinfecting N95 materials, finding that heating them preserves their filtration efficiency for 50 cycles of disinfection. Learn More

Researchers at Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Center and Harbor BioMed (HBM) this week reported that they have identified a fully human monoclonal antibody that prevents the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus from infecting cultured cells. The discovery, published online in Nature Communications, is an initial step towards developing a fully human antibody to treat or prevent the respiratory disease COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. "This research builds on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003," said Berend-Jan Bosch, Associate Professor, Research leader at Utrecht University, and co-lead author of the Nature Communications study. Learn More

The hunt for an effective treatment for COVID-19 has led one team of researchers to find an improbable ally for their work: a llama named Winter. The team -- from The University of Texas at Austin, the National Institutes of Health and Ghent University in Belgium - have linked two copies of a special kind of antibody produced by llamas to create a new antibody that binds tightly to a key protein on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This protein, called the spike protein, allows the virus to break into host cells. Initial tests indicate that the antibody blocks viruses that display this spike protein from infecting cells in culture. Their findings appear this week in the journal Cell. Learn More

The top U.S. spy agency said for the first time this week that the American intelligence community believes the COVID-19 virus that originated in China was not manmade or genetically modified. The Office of Director of National Intelligence statement contradicted conspiracy theories floated by anti-China activists and others suggesting the new coronavirus was developed by Chinese scientists in a government biological weapons laboratory from which it then escaped. It also echoed comments by the World Health Organization (WHO), which on April 21 said all available evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in animals in China late last year and was not manipulated or made in a laboratory. Learn More

Adding to growing evidence that the novel coronavirus can spread through air, scientists have identified genetic markers of the virus in airborne droplets, many with diameters smaller than one-ten-thousandth of an inch. That had been previously demonstrated in laboratory experiments, but now Chinese scientists studying real-world conditions report that they captured tiny droplets containing the genetic markers of the virus from the air in two hospitals in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started. Their findings were published this week in the journal Nature. It remains unknown if the virus in the samples they collected was infectious, but droplets that small can remain aloft and be inhaled by others for a couple of hours. Learn More