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From the College of Natural Sciences
Attacking Weaknesses in Killer Bacteria with Help from Glowing Beads

Attacking Weaknesses in Killer Bacteria with Help from Glowing Beads

Biofilms – tightly packed sticky blobs of many bacteria – are a huge problem in the medical world. Biofilms can form on joint replacements and medical equipment, they cause long-term infections in lungs and urinary tracts, and, according to Centers for Disease Control estimates, are responsible for 1.7 million infections in U.S. hospitals every year – and 99,000 deaths.

Experimental Vaccine Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Elicits Strong Immune Response

Experimental Vaccine Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Elicits Strong Immune Response

An experimental vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), one of the leading causes of infectious disease deaths in infants, has shown early promise in a Phase 1 human clinical trial. A team of researchers, including The University of Texas at Austin's Jason McLellan, report today in the journal Science that one dose of their vaccine candidate elicited large increases in RSV-neutralizing antibodies that were sustained for several months.

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.

New Flu Drug Informed by UT Austin Professor's 40-year-old Basic Research

New Flu Drug Informed by UT Austin Professor's 40-year-old Basic Research

Last year, Texas saw a particularly deadly flu season. Now, there is a new Federal Drug Administration-approved treatment, Xofluza, designed to catch the flu in its early stages and stop it from spreading. The drug is thanks in large part to professor emeritus Robert Krug's basic research, undertaken almost 40 years ago.

‘Honey, I Shrunk the Cell Culture’: Scientists Use Shrink Ray for Biomedical Research

‘Honey, I Shrunk the Cell Culture’: Scientists Use Shrink Ray for Biomedical Research

Using a new kind of "shrink ray", UT Austin scientists can alter the surface of a hydrogel pad in real time, creating grooves (blue) and other patterns without disturbing living cells, such as this fibroblast cell (red) that models the behavior of human skin cells. Rapid appearance of such surface features during cell growth can mimic the dynamic conditions experienced during development and repair of tissue (e.g., in wound healing and nerve regrowth). Credit: Jason Shear/University of Texas at Austin.

From "Fantastic Voyage" to "Despicable Me," shrink rays have been a science-fiction staple on screen. Now chemists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a real shrink ray that can change the size and shape of a block of gel-like material while human or bacterial cells grow on it. This new tool holds promise for biomedical researchers, including those seeking to shed light on how to grow replacement tissues and organs for implants.

Scientists Discover Why Some Bacteria Turn Bad

Scientists Discover Why Some Bacteria Turn Bad

Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) bacteria approach intestinal epithelial cells during human infection. When in close proximity to the host epithelium ETEC senses oxygen seeping (blue) from intestinal epithelial cells to increase expression of adhesins and secreted toxins (magenta). Image Credit: Brad Gilleland

Every year, millions of people have vacations and business trips ruined when they succumb to "traveler's diarrhea" during their journeys. A major cause of traveler's diarrhea is bacteria called Enterotoxigenic E. coli, or ETEC. A joint effort between scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of Texas at Austin has discovered what triggers ETEC to produce dangerous toxins in the body. They are using this information in an effort to develop a preventive vaccine for travelers.

Flu Season Forecasts Could Be More Accurate with Access to Health Care Companies’ Data

Flu Season Forecasts Could Be More Accurate with Access to Health Care Companies’ Data

In an era when for-profit companies collect a wealth of data about us, new research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that data collected by health care companies could — if made available to researchers and public health agencies — enable more accurate forecasts of when the next flu season will peak, how long it will last and how many people will get sick.

Fighting Hepatitis C Virus, Using Clues from What Killed Bevo XIV

Fighting Hepatitis C Virus, Using Clues from What Killed Bevo XIV

And other adventures in animal viruses teaching us about human disease.

A Century After 1918 Flu, A Virus that Still Surprises

A Century After 1918 Flu, A Virus that Still Surprises

This month marks the centennial of the first case of one of the world's deadliest flu outbreaks, which was reported on a Kansas army base. It is estimated that the 1918 flu infected 500 million people around the world and killed 50-100 million. With the 100th anniversary, we sat down with graduate student Spencer Fox, who studies the flu virus and flu pandemics.


The 40 Year-old Discovery Behind A Promising New Flu Drug

The 40 Year-old Discovery Behind A Promising New Flu Drug

A discovery that Robert Krug, a University of Texas at Austin molecular biologist, made decades ago has led to the development of a new drug to fight flu infections more effectively than existing drug treatments.