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SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern Neutralized by Bispecific Antibodies

Bispecific antibodies are a promising next-generation antidote against existing and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. A research team, led by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has developed bispecific antibodies that simultaneously bind to two different antigens, targeting multiple regions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The researchers showed that these bispecific antibodies can neutralize the original virus as well as the emerging variants of concern.

Self-Assembling Drug Delivery System for Local Anesthetics

Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have developed a self-assembling delivery system that releases a class of potent anesthetics called site-1 sodium channel blockers (S1SCBs) over a prolonged period locally, at the site of injection. S1SCBs that include tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin are an attractive alternative to opioids. The researchers modified two peptides in the sodium channel with hydrophobic domains to induce self-assembly into nanostructures that bind to S1SCBs and release the anesthetic when the nanofibers are in the proximity of the nerve, providing sustained local anesthesia.

Convection Improves Survival and Insulin Secretion of Beta Cell Implants

A new convection-enhanced macroencapsulation device (ceMED) designed by bioengineers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School offers the potential of faster and more effective treatment for people with type 1 diabetes. Whereas traditional MEDs rely on diffusion, the new MED uses convection to create a continuous flow of nutrients through the capsule improving the number of cells that can be accommodated in each cartridge and increasing their survival, glucose sensitivity and insulin secretion.

Injury Triggers Transient Transcriptome Flux in Planaria for Whole-Body Regeneration

New research employs single-cell sequencing to analyze transcriptomes of regeneration competent and incompetent fragments of planaria (Schmidtea mediterranea) to identify transient regeneration-activated cell states (TRACS) in the muscle, epidermis and intestine and develop a comprehensive atlas of whole-body regeneration. The authors identify cell types and genes important for regeneration and show that regenerative ability can emerge from coordinated transcriptional plasticity across all three germ layers.

Bowfin Genome Assembly Provides New Insights into Vertebrate Evolution

New research reveals the chromosome-level genome assembly of the bowfin that bears a combination of ancestral features and more recently derived features, and occupies a key position in the fish family tree between the more recent teleosts and ancient lineages such as sturgeons. The sequencing study identified hundreds of gene-regulatory loci conserved across vertebrates and provides new insight into vertebrate evolution, such as genes that were once thought to be indispensable in vertebrate development on account of being responsible for key components of the anatomy are not necessarily so.

Optogenetic Study Identifies Therapeutic Target for Inflammatory Diseases and Neuropathic Pain

Combining optogenetics, cre recombination mediated neuron-specific mutations, sciatic nerve-injury, and disease models of arthritis, with direct measurements of inflammation and neuropathic pain. Scientists at the Feinstein Institutes show that the release of the nociceptor protein HMGB1 is required to mediate neuropathic pain (allodynia) and inflammation. The preclinical study provides direct evidence that nociceptor-related pain can be prevented by targeting HMGB1 in new therapeutic approaches to treat neuroinflammatory diseases.

Fruit Fly Helps Identify Human Neuroprotective Genetic Program

A collaborative study led by scientists at the University of Bonn, Germany, have identified a new genetic program in the fruit fly that is conserved through evolution and has a dual role in creating neuronal branches during developmental stages and preventing these branches from degenerating in the adult brain. The team has identified a new kinase, WNK, in the fruit fly and its mammalian homologs that support a neuroprotective factor called Nmnat and also inhibits at least two other axon-destabilizing proteins called Sarm and Axed. These findings create new lines of investigation to develop therapeutics against neurodegeneration.

Syrian Hamster Unravels Inflammatory Insights in COVID-19

Using bulk transcriptomics, proteomics, and single-cell RNA sequencing, scientists reveal early and strong activation of anti-SARS-CoV-2 pro-inflammatory immunity in the Syrian hamster model in a new collaborative study. The authors show migratory immune cells, including pathogen engulfing macrophages, dominate transcriptional responses in the lung to SARS-CoV-2 infection in Syrian hamsters and COVID-19 patients. The authors identify cell type-specific effector functions, providing detailed insights into pathological mechanisms of COVID-19 and informing therapeutic approaches. They note that the Syrian hamsters offers an important model for COVID-19 research, particularly in early stages of infection. The authors establish that COVID-19 activates the lung endothelium that actively drives inflammation and could potentially be targeted as a successful therapeutic strategy.
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