A multidisciplinary team at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston working to combat the COVID-19 virus has a system that will unlock researchers' ability to more quickly develop and evaluate developing vaccines, diagnose infected patients and explore whether or how the virus has evolved.
The scientists, led by Pei-Yong Shi, developed the system by engineering a reverse genetic system for SARS coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, that is causing the current COVID-19 pandemic. The study is currently available in Cell Host & Microbe.
A Reverse genetic system is one of the most useful tools for studying and combatting viruses. The system allows researchers to make the virus in the lab and manipulate it in a petri dish. Using this system, the UTMB team has engineered a version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is labeled with neon green. When the labeled virus infects a cell, the infected cell turns green.
"The labeled virus could be used to rapidly determine whether a patient has already been infected by the new coronavirus or evaluate how well developing vaccines are inducing antibodies that block infection of the virus. The level of antibodies induced by a vaccine is the most important parameter in predicting how well a vaccine works," said Shi, I.H. Kempner professor of Human Genetics at UTMB.
"The neon green labeled virus system allows us to test patients' samples in 12 hours in a high-throughput manner that tests many samples at once. In contrast, the conventional method can only test a few specimens at a time with a long turnaround time of a week."
"This technology can significantly reduce how long it takes to evaluate developing vaccines and ultimately bring them to the market," said Xuping Xie, the UTMB Research Scientist who designed and developed the genetic system.
"UTMB will be very happy to make this technology widely available to both academia and industry researchers working to quickly develop countermeasures."
"The genetic system allows us to study the evolution of the new coronavirus. This will help us to understand how the virus jumped from its original host bat species to humans. It remains to be determined if an intermediate host is required for the host switch from the original bats to humans for the new coronavirus," said Vineet Menachery, Assistant Professor at UTMB, who co-senior-authored the study. "The system has provided a critical tool for the research community."
"This is another example of team science at UTMB," said Dr. Ben Raimer, President ad Interim of UTMB. "The collective effort from teams with complementary expertise worked together to deliver this exciting study. We will expand the team science to areas of clinical care and patient diagnosis by deploying the technology for serological testing."
Shi said, "This will not be the last emerging virus that plagues humanity. In the past two decades, we've seen other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, as well as other viruses like Zika, Ebola and others. It's critically important to have a system that can be used for any new future or re-emerging viruses so that we can very quickly respond to the pathogens and protect peoples' health."
Other authors include UTMB's Antonio Muruato, Kumari Lokugamage, Krishna Narayanan, Xianwen Zhang, Jing Zou, Jianying Liu, Craig Schindewolf, Nathen Bopp, Patricia Aguilar, Kenneth Plante, Scott Weaver, Shinji Makino and James LeDuc.
To implement the technology for diagnosis and vaccine evaluation, the UTMB team has received grants from National Institutes of Health and philanthropic support from the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation; John S. Dunn Foundation; Amon G. Carter Foundation; Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation and the Summerfield G. Roberts Foundation.
Donna Ramirez | EurekAlert!
A fresh twist in chiral topology
22.06.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe
Unlocking PNA's superpowers for self-assembling nanostructures
12.06.2020 | College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices
Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...
Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class
In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.
Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...
A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...
07.07.2020 | Event News
02.07.2020 | Event News
19.05.2020 | Event News
10.07.2020 | Life Sciences
10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences
10.07.2020 | Life Sciences