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Some Bacteria Sacrifice Themselves to Protect their Brethren from Antibiotics

Some Bacteria Sacrifice Themselves to Protect their Brethren from Antibiotics

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered how some cells within a bacterial swarm will sacrifice themselves so that other cells in the swarm have a better chance of surviving onslaught by antibiotics, in a discovery important for efforts to address antibiotic resistance.

Tiny Insects Provide Inspiration for New Biomaterials

Tiny Insects Provide Inspiration for New Biomaterials

Oncometopia hamiltoni leafhopper insect. Photo by Alex Wild, used with permission.

They may be tiny, but leafhoppers have a super power: they secrete a substance that makes their bodies water-repellant and anti-reflective, which may help them blend in with their surroundings and escape surface tension. Symbiotic bacteria living in the leafhoppers appear to assist in producing the substance and its soccer-ball-shaped nanostructures called brochosomes, but the process is something of a mystery.

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 Innovation Could Dramatically Speed Up Worldwide Production

COVID-19 Vaccine Innovation Could Dramatically Speed Up Worldwide Production

Jason S. McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences, left, and graduate student Daniel Wrapp, right, work in the McLellan Lab at The University of Texas at Austin Monday Feb. 17, 2020.

Responding to a need to quickly develop billions of doses of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, a scientific team at The University of Texas at Austin has successfully redesigned a key protein from the coronavirus, and the modification could enable much faster and more stable production of vaccines worldwide.

Discovery about Hep C Drug Offers Insights for Coronavirus Treatments

Discovery about Hep C Drug Offers Insights for Coronavirus Treatments

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have discovered how a certain drug is able to stop viral spread for patients with Hepatitis C, and the finding may have important implications for drug developers seeking to stop other RNA viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Power of DNA to Store Information Gets an Upgrade

Power of DNA to Store Information Gets an Upgrade

A team of interdisciplinary researchers has discovered a new technique to store information in DNA – in this case "The Wizard of Oz," translated into Esperanto – with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency. The technique harnesses the information-storage capacity of intertwined strands of DNA to encode and retrieve information in a way that is both durable and compact. The technique is described in a paper in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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.

Antibodies from a SARS Patient Could Help Fight Coronaviruses Now and in the Future

Antibodies from a SARS Patient Could Help Fight Coronaviruses Now and in the Future

Scientists from UT Austin and elsewhere found many human antibodies that bind to the spike protein of SARS-like viruses. On the left, two copies of an antibody dubbed ADI-55689 (orange) bind two different sites on the spike protein (white). On the right, a different antibody dubbed ADI-56046 (purple) binds another site on the spike protein. These antibody binding sites are close to sites where the spike protein binds to receptors on the surface of human cells (red) and to another monoclonal antibody dubbed CR3022 (light blue).

As terrifying as the current pandemic is, scientists believe some of the hundreds of other known coronaviruses in bats might also have the potential to make the cross-species leap into humans, as this one probably did. Scientists are already thinking about ways to prevent another coronavirus from spiraling out of control. Basic research published in the journal Science provides evidence that an antibody therapy that's effective against all SARS-like coronaviruses is possible.

Lulu Cambronne Named 2020 Pew Biomedical Scholar

Lulu Cambronne Named 2020 Pew Biomedical Scholar

University of Texas at Austin molecular biosciences assistant professor Xiaolu 'Lulu' Cambronne was one of 22 early career scientists selected to join the 2020 class of Pew Biomedical Scholars.