In the news / Infectious Disease

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Dr. Judith Su runs the UArizona Little Sensor Lab, where researchers are working to sense tiny amounts – down to a single molecule – of everything from doping agents to biomarkers for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Lyme disease and, yes, even COVID-19. Dr. Su, biomedical engineering and optical sciences professor and a member of the BIO5 Institute, has received a $1.82 million, five-year Maximizing Investigators' Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
 
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One of the most significant questions about the novel coronavirus is whether people who are infected are immune from reinfection and, if so, for how long. Drs. Deepta Bhattacharya and Janko Nikolich-Žugich, University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers and members of BIO5 Institute, determined the answer by studying the production of antibodies from a sample of nearly 6,000 people. Finding showed that immunity persists for at least several months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
 
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A new study by the University of Arizona is looking into COVID-19 immunity, which includes how long it will last and if you can get it more than once. Dr. Jeff Burgess, UArizona Associate Dean of Research and BIO5 member, along with other researchers said just because you've had COVID-19, doesn't mean you're in the clear. According to the CDC, there are no confirmed to date of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within three months of initial infection. The CDC also said, if a person has recovered and has new symptoms the person may need an evaluation for re-infection.
 
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A new study authored by Dr. Michael Worobey, UArizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology head and BIO5 member, tracks the spread of coronavirus through North America and Europe. The study investigates when, where, and how COVID-19 established itself globally, using airline passenger flow data, disease incidence rates, and genomic sequence data.
 
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SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain, according to a new study by University of Arizona researchers. The finding may explain why nearly half of all people who get COVID-19 experience few or no symptoms, even though they are able to spread the disease, according to the study's corresponding author Dr. Rajesh Khanna, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson's Department of Pharmacology professor and member of the BIO5 Institute.
 
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Study demonstrates that menopause-induced changes to protective immune cells might contribute to the sharp increase in high blood pressure among postmenopausal women. These findings may also have implications for sex differences in COVID-19 responses.
 
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Sinus infections are one of the most common illnesses, so identifying the progression of the common cold to chronic disease lasting longer than 12 weeks is critical in creating therapies that slow the development of a disease affecting nearly 12% of U.S. adults each year. A group lead by Dr. Eugene Chang, vice chair and associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the UArizona College of Medicine, was awarded $2.24 million to study a protein in the respiratory tract with a genetic variation strongly associated with these ailments.
 
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Dr. John Galgiani, head of UArizona’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence and BIO5 member, is heading up vaccine research at the center and is working on a vaccine shown to prevent valley fever in mice. Dr. Galgiani discusses the vaccine’s progress and the different hurdles valley fever researchers face in developing a viable vaccine for humans.
 
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As youth sports begin to come back, many parents are weighing the safety of their children with the social benefits of playing team sports. Dr. Marvin Slepian, UArizona regents professor of medicine and BIO5 member, shares the risks of contracting coronavirus while playing and practicing sports, and preventative measures that can be taken to protect against coronavirus.
 
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Cellular and molecular medicine master’s student Mallory Thompson interacts with COVID-19 patients daily, strengthening her desire to pursue a medical degree following graduation.
 
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After she and nine family members were infected with SARS-CoV-2 during a family vacation, Jennifer Uhrlaub now advocates for the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing not only in public, but also around those close to us.
 
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UArizona officials said that the campus’s wastewater COVID-19 detection technique — developed, in part, by UArizona WEST center director and BIO5 member Dr. Ian Pepper — possibly prevented a sizable outbreak on campus. Wastewater samples from the dorms have been regularly tested for signs of COVID-19 since students returned to campus in August.
 
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Dr. Elizabeth Connick, UArizona COM- T head of infectious diseases and BIO5 member, discusses the safety and science behind the Moderna vaccine being tested and developed by the National Institute of Health. Dr. Connick believes the early results from phased clinical trials show the vaccine is safe, although we don't yet know how effective it is.
 
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The BIO5 Postdoctoral Fellowship provided Jennifer Lising Roxas with a steppingstone to attain a two-year USDA fellowship award that funds her salary, research and travel to professional development opportunities.
 
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Since the University of Arizona opened its doors, more than 9,000 students, faculty and staff had been tested for COVID-19 and everyone on campus was wearing a mask. The school had even begun sampling its wastewater to quickly detect a potential hot spot. But the centerpiece in the school's preemptive battle against COVID-19 was the "Covid Watch" smartphone app, which uses Bluetooth technology to send an alert to someone's phone if they are exposed to the virus.
 
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To understand the path from pandemic to vaccine, Dr. Yin Chen, an associate professor in UArizona College of Pharmacy and BIO5 member, explains what it takes to train the immune system to fight off a virus. Dr. Chen is not working on a COVID-19 vaccine, but he has spent his career studying the effect of viruses, such as those that cause the common cold and the flu, on the lungs.
 
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The pandemic is exacerbating many risk factors associated with increased drug use and overdose, including economic distress, social isolation, and anxiety. Dr. Todd Vanderah, head of the UArizona Department of Pharmacology and BIO5 member answers questions about these trends and shares his work in providing solutions and advancing education on drug abuse and addiction.
 
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A team of engineers and scientists is developing a solar-powered desalination system to recover water from concentrated waste streams with maximum efficiency. The team is conducting research using the Optical Sciences Center solar testbed.