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From the College of Natural Sciences
Antibody Test Developed for COVID-19 That is Sensitive, Specific and Scalable

Antibody Test Developed for COVID-19 That is Sensitive, Specific and Scalable

An antibody test for the virus that causes COVID-19, developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with Houston Methodist and other institutions, is more accurate and can handle a much larger number of donor samples at lower overall cost than standard antibody tests currently in use. In the near term, the test can be used to accurately identify the best donors for convalescent plasma therapy and measure how well candidate vaccines and other therapies elicit an immune response.

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

An engineered protein developed by UT Austin researchers and their colleagues is a key element of COVID-19 vaccines currently in human trials by Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

The experimental vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that was the first to enter human trials in the United States has been shown to elicit neutralizing antibodies and a helpful T-cell response with the aid of a carefully engineered spike protein that mimics the infection-spreading part of the virus.

COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate with UT Ties Arrived Quickly After Years in the Making

COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate with UT Ties Arrived Quickly After Years in the Making

From left: Jason S. McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences, Daniel Wrapp, graduate student, and Nianshuang Wang, research associate, pose for a photo in the McLellan Lab at The University of Texas at Austin Monday Feb. 17, 2020. Credit: Vivian Abagiu.

When the first COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.S. began on March 16, history was being made. Never before had a potential vaccine been developed and produced for human trials so quickly—just 66 days since scientists published the genome sequence of the virus that causes the disease. After news this week that Phase 1 of the vaccine's trial yielded promising results, the same candidate will enter the final phase of human trials later this month. This blindingly fast effort was only possible because a group of scientists and their partners in industry had already invested years in laying the groundwork.

New Sensor May Soon Test for Coronavirus and Flu Simultaneously

New Sensor May Soon Test for Coronavirus and Flu Simultaneously

The novel coronavirus has been compared to the flu almost from the moment it emerged in late 2019. They share a variety of symptoms, and in many cases, an influenza test is part of the process for diagnosing COVID-19.

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

The drug candidate, called OxaliTEX, is made of two parts: a star-shaped molecule (blue) called texaphyrin that acts like a kind of delivery truck and a modified version of a platinum drug (red) that acts like a toxic package for cancer cells. Illustration credit: iQ Group Global.

​A drug candidate has been found in preclinical trials to stop tumor growth entirely, deliver more cancer-busting power than many commonly used chemotherapy drugs and do so with fewer toxic side effects and more ability to overcome resistance.

Breakthrough in Coronavirus Research Results in New Map to Support Vaccine Design

Breakthrough in Coronavirus Research Results in New Map to Support Vaccine Design

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health have made a critical breakthrough toward developing a vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus by creating the first 3D atomic scale map of the part of the virus that attaches to and infects human cells.

An Experimental Anti-Cancer Drug Has an Unexpected Method of Attacking Cancer

An Experimental Anti-Cancer Drug Has an Unexpected Method of Attacking Cancer

Researchers were surprised to find that BET inhibitors have a second mechanism of attacking cancer cells, namely damaging the cell's DNA. Credit: iStock.

A widely used class of chemotherapy drugs, called topoisomerase inhibitors, come with some serious downsides: bone marrow damage, reduced blood cell production, diarrhea and heart damage. And some cancers can quickly develop resistance. A new discovery about a second class of drugs might lead to combination therapies that are just as effective, but with fewer downsides.

Kami Hull Seeks to Make Drugs Faster with Less Waste

Kami Hull Seeks to Make Drugs Faster with Less Waste

New faculty in Natural Sciences conduct compelling research and inspire new generations, right out of the gate. As the 2019-20 academic year begins, we are introducing faculty members whose compelling work is worth learning about. Here meet Kami Hull. Within months of joining the faculty, she won a prestigious Novartis Early Career Award in Chemistry in recognition of her research, which involves developing more efficient processes for synthetic organic chemistry.

New Drug Has Potential to Protect Brain Cells from Traumatic Injuries

New Drug Has Potential to Protect Brain Cells from Traumatic Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), caused by everything from falls to being hit by moving objects to car crashes, cause nearly a third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. Millions of survivors struggle with impaired thinking and movement, personality changes or depression.

HIV Hidden in Patients’ Cells Can Now Be Accurately Measured

HIV Hidden in Patients’ Cells Can Now Be Accurately Measured

This human T cell (blue) is under attack by HIV (yellow), the virus that causes AIDS. The virus specifically targets T cells, which play a critical role in the body's immune response against invaders like bacteria and viruses. Credit: Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

Until now, researchers haven't been able to accurately quantify a latent form of HIV that persists in patients' immune cells. This hampers doctors' ability to assess the effectiveness of a particular treatment and select better alternatives.