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Archive for the ‘Virology’ Category


Online Event: Vaccine matters: Can we cure coronavirus? An AAAS Webinar on COVID19: 8/12/2020

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams. PhD

Source: Online Event

Top on the world’s want list right now is a coronavirus vaccine. There is plenty of speculation about how and when this might become a reality, but clear answers are scarce.Science/AAAS, the world’s leading scientific organization and publisher of the Science family of journals, brings together experts in the field of coronavirus vaccine research to answer the public’s most pressing questions: What vaccines are being developed? When are we likely to get them? Are they safe? And most importantly, will they work?

link: https://view6.workcast.net/AuditoriumAuthenticator.aspx?cpak=1836435787247718&pak=8073702641735492

Presenters

Presenter
Speaker: Sarah Gilbert, Ph.D.

University of Oxford
Oxford, UK
View Bio

Presenter
Speaker: Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
Bethesda, MD
View Bio

Presenter
Speaker: Kathryn M. Edwards, M.D.

Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
Nashville, TN
View Bio

Presenter
Speaker: Jon Cohen

Science/AAAS
San Diego, CA
View Bio

Presenter
Moderator: Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Science/AAAS
Washington, DC
View Moderator Bio

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Contagious

We are in the midst of a pandemic that is impacting people and society in ways that are hard to grasp. The most apparent impact is on physical health. It also effects our attitudes in society, our economy and our cultural life. Throughout history, humanity has had to face the challenge of understanding, managing and fighting viruses.

In the exhibition Contagious we are highlighting Nobel Prize-awarded researchers who have expanded our knowledge about viruses, mapped our immune system and developed vaccines. We also examine the perspectives from Literature and Economics Laureates about the impact of epidemics on life and society. Visit us at the museum or on these pages.

Museums have an important role to play in times of crisis, since they can help people tackle existential questions and provide a broader context. The Nobel Museum is about ideas that have changed the world. The Nobel Prize points to the ability of humans to find solutions to difficult challenges that we face time and time again. It is a source of hope, even in the midst of the crisis.

SOURCE

Nobel Prize Museum

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/whats-on/contagious/?utm_content=contagious_text

Coronavirus

On March 11 this year, the World Health Organization announced that the spread of the coronavirus should be classified as a pandemic, that is “an infectious disease that spreads to large parts of the world and affects a large proportion of the population of each country”. Today, nobody knows how many will die in this pandemic, or when, or if, we can have a vaccine against the disease.

SARS-CoV-2, or Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, is an RNA virus from the family coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease covid-19.

The virus was detected at the end of last year in the Wuhan sub-province of China, and in most cases causes milder disease symptoms that disappear within two weeks. But sometimes, especially in certain groups such as the elderly and people with certain other underlying illnesses, the infection becomes more severe and can in some cases lead to death.

The virus is believed to have zoonotic origin, that is, it has been transmitted to humans from another animal. Where the origin of the disease comes from, that is to say from which host animal the virus originates, is still unknown. However, the virus has close genetic similarity to a corona virus carried by some bats, which might indicate where the virus comes from.

This model shows the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the illness covid-19. The globe-shaped envelope has a membrane of fat-like substances. Inside the envelope are proteins bound to RNA molecules, that contain the virus’s genes. Short spikes of proteins and longer spikes of glycoprotein stick out of the envelope and attach to receptors on the surface of attacked cells. The spikes, which are bigger at the top, give the virus its appearance reminiscent of the Sun’s corona. This where the coronavirus’s name comes from.

Testing is an important tool for tracking and preventing the spread of infection during an epidemic.

One type of test looks at if a person is infected by looking for traces of the virus’s RNA genetic material. The test is taken using a swab stick inserted into the throat. The small amounts of RNA or DNA that attach to the swab are analyzed using the PCR technique, which was invented by Kary Mullis in 1983. Ten years later he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Another type of test looks for antibodies to the virus in the blood. This indicates that the person has had the disease.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/coronavirus/

The first virus ever discovered

We have understood since the 19th century that many diseases are caused by microscopic bacteria that cannot be seen by the naked eye. It turned out that there were even smaller contagions: viruses. Research on viruses has been recognized with several Nobel Prizes.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/the-first-virus-ever-discovered/

Spanish flu

The worst pandemic of the 20th century was the Spanish flu, which swept across the world 1918–1920.

The Spanish flu was caused by an influenza virus. American soldiers at military facilities at the end of World War I were likely an important source of its spread in Europe. The war had just ended, and the pandemic claimed even more lives than the war. Between 50 and 100 million people died in the pandemic.

The Red Cross, an international aid organization, which received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts during the war, also took part in fighting the Spanish flu. International Committee of the Red Cross received the prize in 1917, 1944 and 1963.

This photo shows personnel from the Red Cross providing transportation for people suffering from the Spanish flu in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/spanish-flu/

Polio

Polio is an illness that often affects children and young people and that can lead to permanent paralysis.

Polio is a highly infectious RNA virus belonging to the genus Enterovirus. The virus only infects humans and enters the body via droplets such as sneezing and coughing, or through contact with infected people’s feces. Usually, polio infects our respiratory and intestinal tract, but sometimes the virus spreads to the spinal cord and can then cause paralysis. The virus mainly affects children, but most of those infected show no or very mild symptoms.

Vaccines are a way to help our immune system fight viruses. The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism against attacks from viruses and bacteria. A number of Nobel Laureates have researched the immune system and contributed to the development of vaccines.

Hepatitis B

The virus can infect people without them becoming sick. Discoveries in the 1960s enabled both vaccines and tests to prevent the spread.

Hepatitis B can infect humans and apes, and is most common in West Africa and in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease also occurs in the rest of Africa, as well as in areas from the Caspian Sea through to China and Korea and further down to Southeast Asia.

Baruch Blumberg discovered the virus behind hepatitis B and developed a vaccine against the disease.

There are many varieties of hepatitis, or jaundice, that cause inflammation in the liver. When studying blood proteins from people from different parts of the world at the end of the 1960s, Baruch Blumberg unexpectedly discovered an infectious agent for hepatitis B. He showed that the infectious agent was linked to a virus of previously unknown type. The virus can infect people without them becoming sick. The discoveries enabled both vaccines and tests to prevent the spread through blood transfusions.

Baruch Blumberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1976. He has summarized what the Nobel Prize meant to him.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/hepatitis-b/

Yellow fever

Each year, Yellow fever causes about 30,000 deaths. The vaccine against yellow fever was produced in the 1930s. A work awarded the Nobel Prize.

Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by a virus that is spread by mosquitos in tropical areas of Africa and South America.

Each year, Yellow fever causes about 200,000 infections and 30,000 deaths. About 90% of the cases occur in Africa. The disease is common in warm, tropical climates such as South America and Africa, but it is not found in Asia.

You may think that the number of people infected would be decreasing, but since the 1980s the number of yellow fever cases has unfortunately increased. This is believed to be due to the fact that more and more people are living in cities, that we are traveling more than before, and an increased climate impact.

Since there is no cure for the disease, preventive vaccination is a very important measure. Max Theiler successfully infected mice with a virus in the 1930s, which opened the door to more in-depth studies. When the virus was transferred between mice, a weakened form of the virus was created that gave monkeys immunity. In 1937, Theiler was able to develop an even weaker version of the virus. This version could be used as a vaccine for people.

Max Theiler was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/yellow-fever/

HIV/AIDS

In the early 1980s, reports began to emerge about young men that suffered from unusual infections and cancers that normally only affect patients with weakened immune systems. It turned out to be a previously unknown epidemic, HIV, which spread rapidly across the world.

HIV, which is an abbreviation of human immunodeficiency virus, is a sexually transmitted retrovirus that attacks our immune system. An untreated infection eventually leads to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. In 2008, French scientists Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the detection of human immunodeficiency virus.

Watch the interview where Françoise Barré-Sinoussi talks about what it is like to meet patients affected by the virus she discovered.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/hiv-aids/

 

Viruses captured in photos

Viruses are incredibly small and cannot be seen in normal microscopes.

The electron microscope, which was invented by Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll in 1933, made it possible to take pictures of much smaller objects than was previously possible. Ernst Ruska’s brother, Helmut Ruska, was a doctor and biologist, and used early electron microscopes to make images of viruses and other small objects. The tobacco mosaic virus was the first virus captured on film. The development of the electron microscope has enabled increasingly better images to be taken.

Ernst Ruska was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Röhrer, who developed the scanning electron microscope.

Read more about Ernst Ruska – his life and research. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1986/ruska/facts/

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/viruses-captured-in-photos/

 

Epidemics and literature

When epidemics and pandemics strike the world, it isn’t just the physical health of people that are impacted but also ways of life, thoughts and feelings. Nobel Laureates in literature have been effected by epidemics and written about life under real and fictive epidemics.

The coronavirus crisis has had a dramatic impact on our lives and our view of our lives. Olga Tokarczuk is one of the authors who has reflected on this.

Tokarczuk argues that the coronavirus has swept away the illusion that we are the masters of creation and that we can do anything since the world belongs to us. She wonders if the pandemic has forced us into a slower, more natural rhythm in life, but also worries about how it may increase distrust of strangers and worsen inequality among people.

Orhan Pamuk has worked for many years on a novel about a bubonic plague epidemic that struck primarily Asia in 1901. The coronavirus crisis has caused him to consider the similarities between the ongoing pandemic and past epidemics throughout history.

He sees several recurring behaviors when epidemics strike: denial and false information, distrust of individuals belonging to other groups, and theories about a malicious intent behind the pandemic. But epidemics also remind us that we are not alone and allow us to rediscover a sense of solidarity. He writes in The New York Times.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/epidemics-and-literature/

Economics Laureates on the current pandemic

Pandemics have wide-ranging impacts on the economy. Paul Romer and Paul Krugman are two economists who have been active in the public discourse during the coronavirus crisis.

Paul Romer has expressed concerns about the pandemic’s effects on the economy but is optimistic about the possibilities of technology. He supports widespread testing. Those who are infected have to stay home for two weeks while others can work and take part in other ways in society.

Paul Romer was awarded the prize “for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis.” Paul Romer has demonstrated how knowledge can function as a driver of long-term economic growth. He showed how economic forces govern the willingness of firms to produce new ideas.

His thoughts are developed in his lecture during the Nobel Week 2018.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/economics-laureates-on-the-current-pandemic/

 

Other SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/

 

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The race for a COVID-19 vaccine: What’s ahead ?

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Researchers are conducting over 100 coronavirus vaccines studies, as they race to produce the first serum to protect people from COVID-19. Its uncertain which one would be successful, but what is certain is that without the vaccine, life would not return to normal anywhere on the world.

Usually, a vaccine takes 20 to 15 years to develop, but Moderna Therapeutics, a U.S. pharmaceutical company will test their vaccine on tens of thousands of people which are in critical phase 3. Even though many vaccines are tested now, only ten candidates are currently in clinical trials. The process to develop a vaccine is complicated and requires time and money.

However, in order to develop a vaccine, a pathogen has to be identified. After several in vitro trials, the vaccine is tested in mice, then in a non-human primate model. After these preclinical studies show  promising results, then the next step is to into clinical trials i.e. human testing. The human testing, occurs in various steps. The first step, phase 1 clinical trial is usually a small trial with 20 to 100 patients. The goal of this step is to asses the toxicity of the vaccine. Once, the first step clinical trials are completed and the results show positive result on toxicity and safety, progress to phase 2 trials can be started. Phase 2 clinical trials include 200 to 400 patients. In this phase, immunogenicity of the vaccine it is tested as well as how long it is effective.  Then, the last step is phase 3 clinical trial which can include as many as 30,000 people. The last phase it assesses whether the vaccine works on a broader scale.

Once the vaccine is effective, companies have to increase production to develop more than 7 billion doses. But due to the large number of people requiring this vaccine, scientists have to look at how to increase the manufacturing capability and distribution. In order to produce them effectively, a portfolio of vaccines have to be used.

 SOURCE

https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2020/06/25/the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-whats-ahead/

 

 

 

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