Modeling infectious disease dynamics

Science Magazine  May 15, 2020 According to researchers at the University of Chicago, mathematical modeling and historical influenza pandemics provide a warning about comparing the effects of interventions in different populations. A rapid decline in COVID-19 cases or a small springtime epidemic might be taken as evidence that interventions have been especially effective or that herd immunity has been achieved. But simple models show that epidemic dynamics become deeply unintuitive when there is seasonal variation in susceptibility or transmission, and especially when there is movement between populations. For SARS-CoV-2, like influenza virus, the shape of seasonal variation is uncertain. Linear […]

COVIDScholar: AI Tool Sifts Through Thousands of Papers to Guide Researchers

Global Biodefense  May 12, 2020 Every day, hundreds of scientific papers about COVID-19 come out, in both traditional journals and non-peer-reviewed preprints. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are using the latest artificial intelligence techniques to build COVIDScholar, a search engine dedicated to COVID-19. It includes tools that pick up subtle clues like similar drugs or research methodologies to recommend relevant research to scientists. AI can capture latent scientific knowledge from text, making connections that humans missed. They built web scrapers that collect new papers as they are published from a wide variety of sources, making them available on the […]

The most promising strategies for defeating coronavirus: A review study

EurekAlert  April 24, 2020 To help focus the global search for a treatment, researchers at the University of North Carolina provide a comprehensive resource of possible lines of attack against SARS-Cov-2 and related coronaviruses, including the results from all preclinical and clinical trials so far on vaccines against SARS and MERS. They discuss one-by-one the possible strategies against the coronavirus. Among most effective are vaccines. The most successful are likely to carry the Receptor Binding Domain (of the virus’s S-protein), which allows it to bind to and fuse with host cells. The authors discuss a range of options from fusion […]

Researchers identify cells likely targeted by Covid-19 virus

MIT News  April 22, 2020 Using existing data on the RNA found in different types of cells, an international team of researchers (MIT, Harvard University, and from around the world) was able to search for cells that express the two proteins that help the SARS-CoV-19 virus enter human cells. They found subsets of cells in the lung, the nasal passages, and the intestine that express RNA for both proteins much more than other cells. MIT with partners at the Broad Institute has been building an open source database and storing a huge collection of these dataset in one place, allowing […]

COVID-19 needs a Manhattan Project

Science Magazine  March 23, 2020 According to the head of GAVI http://www.gavi.org/ there is a strong track record for publicly funded, large-scale scientific endeavors that bring together global expertise and resources toward a common goal. The Manhattan Project brought about nuclear weapons quickly (although with terrible implications for humanity) through an approach that led to countless changes in how scientists from many countries work together. The Human Genome Project and CERN engaged scientists from around the world to drive basic research from their home labs through local and virtual teamwork. Taking this big, coordinated approach to developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine […]

An MIT team hopes to publish open-source designs for a low-cost ventilator

MIT Technology Review  March 24, 2020 The motorized device automatically compresses widely available bag valve masks, the sort of manual resuscitator used by ambulance crews to assist patients with breathing problems. They have submitted the device to the FDA for rapid review under an “Emergency Use Authorization.” The team intends to test the devices on pigs in recent days. The MIT E-Vent is anticipated to have utility in helping free up existing supply or in life-or-death situations when there is no other option. About a decade ago a team of students developed a proof of principle version of the machine […]