In The News

NEWS
The new variant to COVID-19 sports an unusual number of mutations, including some that appear to change the virus’ behavior. It seems to be significantly more transmissible, increasing the rate at which infected people infect others, although there is no evidence to date that the variant triggers more severe disease. There are efforts afoot to try to figure out how widely the new variant is spreading — one of them led by the lab of Dr. Michael Worobey, whose team is develop a test for variant viruses in wastewater from community sewage systems.
NEWS
Two University of Arizona faculty members including UArizona Pharmacy professor and BIO5 member Dr. Laurence Hurley, have been elected to the National Academy of Inventors, considered one of the highest professional honors awarded solely to academic inventors, the school said. They join a group of more than 4,000 individual academic inventors that has generated $2.2 trillion in revenue from more than 42,700 U.S. patents and 13,000 licensed technologies and companies.
NEWS
For much of the past century, the invasive pink bollworm wreaked havoc in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. A multifaceted strategy eradicated the pest from cotton-producing areas of the region according to a new study led by Regents professor, UArizona Entomology department head, and BIO5 member, Dr. Bruce Tabashnik. According to the study, the eradication program saved U.S. cotton growers $192 million from 2014 to 2019. Through environmentally friendly approaches, it also helped to reduce insecticides sprayed against all cotton pests by 82% and prevented the application of over a million pounds of insecticides per year in Arizona.
NEWS
Vaccines usually take years to develop, but in the case of COVID-19 it took less than a year. Experts including Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, UArizona immunobiologist and BIO5 member, say that part of the reason is the research has been going on for years. Even though the development of the vaccine was fast, it was slow enough to catch safety issues. It is possible that some people will still have adverse reactions to the vaccine. But Dr. Bhattacharya cautions the public not to take one or two cases of adverse reactions as a reason not to get vaccinated.
NEWS
Dr. Bruce Walsh received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 International Congress in Quantitative Genetics in honor of his foundational textbooks, teaching, and outreach efforts.
NEWS
As vaccines for COVID-19 roll out, so do questions and concerns. Do they work? What are the side effects? Which one is more effective? Pfizer or Moderna? Different companies but both claim their vaccine to be 95% effective. Doctors all over the world are saying, not just having one but two vaccines is incredible. Dr. Elizabeth Connick, UArizona Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and BIO5 member, called the vaccine a home run. Overall, Dr. Connick said, the vaccines are the same but with a few differences, like effects.
NEWS
The United States is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people by the end of January, which will give us more bang for our buck than the next 50 million, because the vaccination rollout will start with the elderly and other high-risk groups, health-care professionals, essential workers. In the meantime, consider postponing that Christmas party, if you can. Protect the members of your family who are elderly, or who are at heightened risk; keep them safe now, as we stand on the precipice of relief. We cannot guarantee the future, but just as the dangers of this grim winter are real, so are the reasons for hope.
NEWS
The dream for some researchers is to irreversibly cure people's cancer. This includes Drs. Richard Austin, Laurence Hurley, and Vijay in Gokhale. In 2016 the trio came together with the aim to cure cancer through the company they created and call Reglagene. They built a technology to fight cancer that targets genes that become resistant to other therapies.
NEWS
Statistics show relatively high usage rates for UArizona's exposure notification app, which helped curb the spread of the virus on campus. Public health experts say the digital strategy worked well because it was used in conjunction with traditional contact tracing, in addition to testing and isolation efforts.
NEWS
Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of Immunobiology and a member of the university's BIO5 Institute, spoke with UArizona News about the science, development process, and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Bhattacharya’s expertise is in immune responses to infections and vaccines.
NEWS
The BIO5 Institute successfully pivoted another student engagement program to a virtual format amid the COVID-19 pandemic with a fruitful first semester of the BIO5 Ambassadors Internship.
NEWS
Thousands of researchers dropped whatever intellectual puzzles had previously consumed their curiosity and began working on the COVID-19 pandemic instead. In mere months, science became thoroughly COVID-ized. Included in this effort is Dr. Michael D. L. Johnson, BIO5 member and Immunobiology assistant professor with the UArizona College of Medicine-Tucson, who normally studies copper’s toxic effects on bacteria. But when he learned that SARS CoV 2 persists for less time on copper surfaces than on other materials, he partially pivoted to see how the virus might be vulnerable to the metal. No other disease has been scrutinized so intensely, by so much combined intellect, in so brief a time.
NEWS
An ultracold storage facility capable of storing more than 1.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine has been completed at the University of Arizona. Each unit at the freezer farm facility has the capacity to hold between 100,000 and 187,000 doses of vaccine, said BIO5 member Dr. David T. Harris, a professor in the UArizona Department of Immunobiology and executive director of the University of Arizona Health Sciences Biorepository.
NEWS
Drawing upon inspiration from an orphanage in Romania, Dr. Katalin Gothard aims to understand how the physical and social aspects of touch translate to emotion within the brain.
NEWS
Two University of Arizona faculty including College of Pharmacy professor and BIO5 member Dr. Laurence Hurley, have been elected as fellows of the National Academy of Inventors. Election as an NAI fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
NEWS
The immune system fights bacteria, viruses and other pathogens by utilizing several types of T cells, all of which have receptors that are specific to particular antigens. On killer T cells, the receptor works in concert with three signaling modules and a coreceptor to destroy the infected cell. A new study has found that a novel T cell genetically engineered by a team of University of Arizona researchers including Dr. Michael Kuhns, associate professor in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Immunobiology and BIO5 member, is able to target and attack pathogenic T cells that cause Type 1 diabetes, which could lead to new immunotherapy treatments.
NEWS
Dr. Lisa Elfring draws inspiration from K-12 instructional methodology to place value on the student, improve their performance, and revive the joy of teaching.
NEWS
The University of Arizona will require students who live in dorms or attend in-person classes on the main campus to be tested weekly for COVID-19 in the spring. The university also will begin offering a new swish-gargle PCR test in addition to nasal swab antigen and PCR testing in the spring. The new test developed by a team of UArizona researchers lead by Dr. Michael Worobey, UArizona EEB department head and BIO5 institute associate director, involves swishing and gargling a saline solution, then spitting into a tube. Results are usually available the same day.