In the news / Infectious Disease

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UArizona Immunobiology professor Dr. Felicia Goodrum is studying Cytomegalovirus, or CMV. It is a herpes virus that is usually latent but has the ability to change into a form that causes devastating diseases or even death in immune-compromised patients. The leading cause of birth defects, Dr. Goodrum explains that discovering how the virus reactivates from its latent state could bring novel strategies to conquer it, noting studying viruses like CMV can help scientists learn why our cells become cancerous.
 
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Dr. Matt Goode, UArizona wildlife ecologist and assistant research scientist in the university’s world-renowned Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response (VIPER) Institute, shares what researchers know about when, where, and why snakes are scarce in the winter, and how climate might change their behavior.
 
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An inflammatory protein may play a part against the spread of sexually transmitted genital herpes virus in the nervous system, a new study says. The findings could help lead to improved treatment of herpes, according to the researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
 
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A research group at the medical-device and health care giant Abbott, has discovered a new strain of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV—the first to be identified in 19 years. Along with other researchers, BIO5 associate director and UArizona Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department head Dr. Michael Worobey, discusses what these findings mean and what they tell us about the HIV virus as a whole.
 
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A study done by UA COM-Phoenix researchers, including Basic Medical Sciences associate professor and BIO5 member Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, have discovered a function in a pro-inflammatory protein that could play an important part in improving current and future therapeutics for the herpes virus. The aim of the research is to better understand important underlying immune mechanisms in the female reproductive tract to improve women’s health.
 
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Because of routine PSA testing in older men, cancers that might have gone undetected without ever causing health problems were identified and treated. Dr. Richard Ablin, the pioneer who discovered PSA recognizes some variables to prostate cancer screening that require close attention when evaluating men
 
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An easy-to-use, self-administered blood test that quickly could evaluate a person’s radiation exposure would help triage emergency medical treatment in the event of a radiological or nuclear event. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services long has sought ways to monitor a population’s radiation
 
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The University of Arizona Cancer Center recently received a $5 million gift from Leonard A. Lauder, retired Estee Lauder Co. chairman and son of Estee Lauder herself. The gift will be used by BIO5 and UA Cancer Center research member Dr. David S. Alberts, to continue research in the fight against ovarian cancer, which took Leonard Lauder's wife Evelyn from him in 2011.
 
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Leading experts including UA Pharmacology and Toxicology assistant professor and BIO5 member Dr. Jun Wang, say understanding how the influenza virus replicates inside the body helps researchers develop a wider range of antiviral drugs. After finding medication resistant mutations within multiple flu viruses, Dr. Wang and other research teams across the globe, are looking to develop new drugs to target them.
 
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A team led by University of Arizona Biomedical Engineering professor and BIO5 researcher, Dr. Jeong-Yeol Yoon, has created a highly sensitive portable detection system capable of spotting norovirus at levels that can make people sick. Dr. Yoon believes that the handheld detection system could be used by governmental officials to analyze local groundwater sources in areas with heavy septic tank usage or even on cruise ships, where the virus is prevalent. 
 
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To better understand biological processes, a UA research team that includes BIO5 faculty member and Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Dr. Craig Aspinwall, has developed new materials for detecting radioisotopes that provide faster and higher resolution results than today’s generally accepted methods. The new technology provides new resolution in radioisotope detection, and offers a more environmentally sound alternative by reducing the hazardous chemical usage and waste that existed in previous methods.
 
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BIO5 member Dr. Michael D. L. Johnson, Assistant Professor of Immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, discusses his ongoing research regarding copper’s toxicity towards bacteria and how the metal may help in the development of a new antibiotic to fight a potentially devastating, antibiotic resistant strain of pneumonia.
 
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Scientists at the UA, led by Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department Head and BIO5 Microbiome Associate Director Dr. Michael Worobey, were able to extract from the tissue a nearly complete genetic sequence of an HIV virus — the oldest nearly full-length genetic code for an HIV-1 virus recovered thus far, supporting the theory that HIV began to transmit among people within the first two decades of the 20th century.
 
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The BIO5 Postdoctoral Fellowship recognizes outstanding postdoctoral researchers at the University of Arizona who are engaging in multi-disciplinary research projects aligned with the foci of the BIO5 Institute. These grants are specifically designed to support and enhance the independent research goals of BIO5 postdoctoral researchers, showcase their research at a BIO5 Research Symposium via short talks and/or poster sessions, and to facilitate a “forward thinking” mindset by requiring each fellow to form a three-member mentoring committee.
 
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It seems Valley Fever is spreading. Some of the increase may be explained by improved diagnosis, but other factors are also at work; including increased migration and visitation to the Southwest where coccidioidomycosis is endemic. The director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence and BIO5 member Dr. John Galgiani, weighs in on the challenges and progress regarding the development of a vaccine for the disease.
 
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Immunobiology associate professor at the UA College of Medicine-Tucson and BIO5 faculty Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, studies how the body deals with damaged cells and protects against chronic health issues. Dr. Bhattacharya says key cells in our immune system can be made more efficient in keeping us safe from infectious diseases.
 
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Several undergraduate students who won top prizes for presenting their research at the 2019 EarthWeek at the University of Arizona, a celebration of the environmental research across five departments at the University of Arizona.
 
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If you’re seeing – or feeling, in the case of mosquitoes – more bugs this spring, you can thank the rainy winter. A few wet weeks in February resulted in an abundance of wildflowers and weeds and that has led to a healthy population of bugs, says UA Entomologist and BIO5 member Dr. Dawn Gouge.