NIH's Role In Sustaining the U.S. Economy 2021 Update Now Available here
UMR Urges House and Senate Leaders to Include NIH Funding in COVID Relief Package read here
UMR releases new fact sheets on COVID-19 and biomedical research. Read here
See how UMR members are aiding in the fight against the coronavirus here
A new episode of the Amazing Things Podcast is now available! Check it out here.

A participant in the NIH 2019-2020 Medical Research Scholars Program.

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UMR MEMBERS DEPLOY BIOMEDICAL INNOVATION TO FIGHT COVID-19

UMR members, representing leading research institutions, patient and health advocates and private industry, are engaging on all fronts in the effort to keep people safe and detect, treat and prevent COVID-19.

The information here is a small sampling of the efforts underway by UMR members.

Highlights


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Why some COVID-19 patients lose sense of smell, taste and some don’t: Researchers are narrowing in on cause

Researchers may have narrowed down the reason some people who contract COVID-19 lose their sense of smell and taste. A new study published in the journal Nature Genetics points to damaged cells in the olfactory epithelium, a part of the nose that traps odor molecules and submits a response to the brain, as the likely culprit.
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Study: Rapid Test for Detecting COVID-19 Highly Accurate for Children and Adolescents

In a large prospective study of just over 1,000 patients ages 17 and younger who were seen at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital (BCCFH) testing site during a seven-month period last year, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine and collaborating institutions report that a rapid antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — proved highly accurate when compared to the established standard virus detection method: the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).  
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Biden administration to buy 500M more rapid COVID-19 tests to give free to Americans

While AdvaMed said in a written statement last month that the Biden administration\'s plan to purchase 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests and make them available for free was an \"encouraging\" step, the medtech lobby emphasized that the federal government plays a \"pivotal role of guaranteeing the market,\" and going forward more must be done to ensure a consistent and reliable supply of diagnostics.
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Could COVID Pandemic and Vaccine Hesitancy Let HPV, Polio, and Measles Return?

Vaccine skepticism is proving infectious. As refusing a COVID-19 shot becomes a badge of honor for some, lawmakers are beginning to revisit existing vaccine mandates, with politicians from Florida to Montana questioning long accepted immunization requirements against diseases like polio and measles. Coupled with a precipitous drop in childhood vaccination rates during the pandemic—which first plummeted as locked-down kids skipped healthcare visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—vaccine skepticism could allow previously well-managed viruses and diseases to start reappearing.
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Biden administration to buy 500M more rapid COVID-19 tests to give free to Americans

While AdvaMed said in a written statement last month that the Biden administration\'s plan to purchase 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests and make them available for free was an \"encouraging\" step, the medtech lobby emphasized that the federal government plays a \"pivotal role of guaranteeing the market,\" and going forward more must be done to ensure a consistent and reliable supply of diagnostics.
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AdvaMed: Administration Plan to Purchase 500 Million Covid Tests an “Encouraging Next Step,” Says More Must Be Done

Today, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) released the following statement from President and CEO Scott Whitaker regarding the White House’s newest measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic and rising cases related to the Omicron variant: “A consistent, reliable supply of rapid Covid tests is critical to getting our country through to the other side of this pandemic. The Administration’s announcement today that it will purchase 500 million COVID tests is an encouraging next step, and this guaranteed-purchase approach is one of several we have urged this Administration to take.
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AdvaMed Commends Administration Move to Increase Access to At-Home Covid Tests Through Private Insurance Coverage, Expansion of Testing Access in Vulnerable Communities

AdvaMed released the following statement from President and CEO Scott Whitaker on the Administration’s announcement today that, (1) beginning in January, private insurance plans will cover the cost of at-home Covid tests throughout the public health emergency, and (2) the Administration will increase to 50 million the number of free Covid tests provided through federally qualified health centers, Feeding America food banks, and rural health clinics, to extend the reach of testing in vulnerable communities:
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MedTech POV Podcast | BD’s Tom Polen on Lessons Learned During COVID-19: “It Normally Takes Us Three Years … How About 90 Days?”

In a wide-ranging discussion on everything from his upbringing in rural Maryland to his elevation to CEO of Becton Dickinson (BD) just as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking shape, Tom Polen walks host Scott Whitaker and listeners through the company’s work throughout the pandemic, offering leadership and management lessons, as well as insight into decision-making in times of crisis.
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COVID-19 May Damage the Brain in Older Adults

While COVID-19 is notorious for wreaking havoc on the body, new research shows it could also impact the brain. Studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2021 (AAIC®) in July found links between COVID-19 and persistent cognitive deficits, including the acceleration of Alzheimer’s-related brain changes and symptoms.
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Depression Rates in US Tripled When the Pandemic First Hit—Now, They’re Even Worse

Depression among adults in the United States tripled in the early 2020 months of the global coronavirus pandemic—jumping from 8.5 percent before the pandemic to a staggering 27.8 percent. New research from Boston University School of Public Health reveals that the elevated rate of depression has persisted into 2021, and even worsened, climbing to 32.8 percent and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.
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Research suggests global dementia cases could triple by 2050, and also that COVID-19 accelerates Alzheimer’s

Research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2021 suggests COVID-19 is associated with long-term cognitive dysfunction and acceleration of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and symptoms. These studies were among several pieces of groundbreaking research featured at AAIC 2021.  
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The Impact of COVID-19 and the Global Pandemic on Alzheimer’s Research, Long-Term Care and the Brain

COVID-19 and the global pandemic have caused significant disruption to all aspects of life including Alzheimer’s clinical research worldwide. The impact of COVID, quarantine, and the resulting fear and isolation are causing problems, but also driving unprecedented innovation. Yet the urgency to make scientific advances in Alzheimer’s and other dementia is so high that we must look at how we can safely resume, continue and even accelerate clinical research. The environment we are in is allowing us to establish creative and innovative ways to safely move some studies forward.
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Convalescent plasma shows renewed promise for COVID-19 in outpatient trial

Among the possible treatments for people just developing COVID-19 symptoms, antibody-rich plasma donated by recovered patients has taken a backseat to options such as monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills. But a new clinical trial suggests it may deserve a bigger role. The trial results, posted today as a preprint, showed a transfusion of convalescent plasma cut rates of hospitalization roughly in half—from 6.3% to 2.9%—in people treated early in the course of their infection with SARS-CoV-2.
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Robust immune responses are observed after one dose of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine dose in SARS-CoV-2 experienced individuals

The use of COVID-19 vaccines will play the major role in helping to end the pandemic that has killed millions worldwide. COVID-19 vaccines have resulted in robust humoral responses and protective efficacy in human trials, but efficacy trials excluded individuals with a prior diagnosis of COVID-19. As a result, little is known about how immune responses induced by mRNA vaccines differ in individuals who recovered from COVID-19. Here, we evaluated longitudinal immune responses to two-dose BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination in 15 adults who had experienced COVID-19, compared to 21 adults who did not have prior COVID-19.
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‘This virus is a shape-shifter’

In an effort to predict future evolutionary maneuvers of SARS-CoV-2, a research team led by investigators at Harvard Medical School has identified several likely mutations that would allow the virus to evade immune defenses, including natural immunity acquired through infection or from vaccination, as well as antibody-based treatments.
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A prominent virologist warns COVID-19 pill could unleash dangerous mutants. Others see little cause for alarm

The first oral antiviral for treating COVID-19, Merck & Co.’s molnupiravir, received approval from the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on 4 November. But the approval, for people at high risk of severe disease, comes as a prominent virologist has suggested using molnupiravir could do far more harm than good, potentially unleashing new, deadlier variants of SARS-CoV-2. Other virologists say the concern is worth tracking but is largely hypothetical, for now.
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Survey: Cancer Patients and Survivors Embrace Telehealth

A new survey shows cancer patients and recent survivors have had a positive experience using telehealth in the wake of the pandemic and are willing to use or adapt to using telehealth services in the future. According to a new Survivor Views survey from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), an overwhelming 94% of patients said their issues and questions were addressed well through their telehealth visit with two-thirds saying their issues were very well addressed.
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Survey: Cancer Patients and Survivors Continue to Face Pandemic-Related Health Care Delays 1 Year Later

According to a new Survivor Views survey from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), 1 in 3 (35%) cancer patients and survivors report that the pandemic has affected their ability to access care. Even during the last few months, as the overall spread of the virus has begun to decline due to vaccinations, roughly 1 in 6 (16%) patients report a delay or interruption in their cancer screening schedule, including 1 in 10 (11%) who experienced a screening delay for a cancer with which they’d previously been diagnosed. These delays were driven mostly by logistical issues such as staffing shortages or a lack of available appointments (26%), followed by patients’ concerns about the risks of contracting the virus (22%).
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Volunteers Meet Virtually with Lawmakers to Support Legislation Allowing Pharmacists to Administer All CDC Recommended Vaccines

Volunteers from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) along with supporters of organizations including NAACP New York State Conference, New York State Association of County Health Organizations, New York Public Health Association and more than 20 others are gathering virtually today to urge lawmakers in Albany to pass legislation this session that will enable pharmacists in the state to administer all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to anyone over the age of 18.
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Cancer Research Groups Push Emergency Funding to Restart Clinical Trials in Infrastructure Package

A group of more than fifty cancer research-focused organizations are urging Congress to include $10 billion in emergency funding to restart cancer research and clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stalled by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Heart disease likely to remain #1 killer in U.S. indefinitely due to long-term COVID-19 impact

Heart disease and stroke continue to kill more people in the U.S. than any other cause, despite, and likely even due to, the impact of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic last year, according to new provisional data released today from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That trend is likely to continue for years to come as the long-term impact of the novel coronavirus will directly affect cardiovascular health, according to the American Heart Association, the leading global volunteer organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke for all. COVID-19 has taken a huge toll worldwide and is now officially ranked as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in today’s report. Heart disease remains at the top spot and stroke remains at #5. However, the influence of COVID-19 will directly and indirectly impact rates of cardiovascular disease prevalence and deaths for years to come, according to Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association
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Statins may reduce death from, severity of COVID-19 among those with heart disease or high blood pressure

Research published today in The Public Library of Science ONE, PLOS ONE, examined the relationship between use of medications to control cholesterol or blood pressure levels, and the risk of death among people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19.
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Undetected early heart damage raises risk of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients with impaired first-phase ejection fraction were nearly 5 times more likely to die compared to patients with healthier measures of this early, often undetected sign of heart failure, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal. First-phase ejection fraction is a measure of the left ventricular ejection fraction until the time of maximal ventricular contraction. Cardiovascular risk factors and/or disease have been recognized as COVID-19 risk factors that have a high negative impact on patient outcomes, since early in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Researchers hypothesized that predisposition to heart failure would be associated with more severe cases of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.
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Small study shows heart damage after COVID-19 uncommon in college athletes

In a small study, researchers found college athletes who contracted COVID-19 rarely had cardiac complications. Most had mild COVID symptoms that did not require treatment, and in a small percentage of those with abnormal cardiac testing, there was no evidence of heart damage on special imaging tests. All athletes returned to sports without any health concerns, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.
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AAU, Associations Issue Joint Statement Regarding Dangerous State Restrictions on COVID-19 Public Health Measures

AAU joined ACHA, ACE, and 26 other higher education associations in issuing a joint statement about state restrictions that have prevented colleges from deploying evidence-based public health measures to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks on campus. Several states in the past year have implemented legislation or executive actions forbidding inquiries about vaccinations, banning vaccination requirements, blocking surveillance testing, and curbing the use of masking and other mitigation strategies; these restrictions undermine the ability of colleges and universities to operate safely and fully. In many instances, they directly contradict CDC guidance. As the statement noted, these restrictions “ultimately threaten the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities.”  
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For future medical breakthroughs, we must rebuild research lost to COVID

Perhaps even more than past breakthroughs, the novel COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have inspired immediate and widespread relief and optimism. Biomedical scientists labored for decades to develop the expertise and proof of feasibility that led to the vaccines; this innovative work has saved countless lives and promises an end to a pandemic that has killed millions of people and disrupted normal life around the world for more than a year.
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Friends of IES Requests At Least $700B for IES in FY22

The Friends of IES, of which AAU is a member, sent a letter to House and Senate Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittee leaders requesting at least $700 million for the Institute of Education Sciences in FY22. The letter says that this funding would “bolster the research and statistical infrastructure needed to develop and scale up evidence-based interventions to support learning recovery, understand and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across all levels of education, and ensure the continuation of research and data collection in the field.”
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AAU Urges Lawmakers to Develop Bipartisan Recovery and Competitiveness Measures

AAU sent a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders thanking them for pandemic relief measures and highlighting actions federal policymakers should pursue, in a bipartisan fashion, to bolster the government-university partnership, support our nation‘s recovery, and strengthen our global competitiveness. The letter urges lawmakers to: double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000; provide research recovery funding consistent with the bipartisan H.R. 869/S. 289, the “Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act;” invest in scientific research infrastructure; and ramp up research and STEM education investments, setting a path for sustained funding growth thereafter.
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APLU Urges Congress to Restore Research Investment in Infrastructure Negotiations

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson sent a letter to congressional leadership on May 26 urging lawmakers to include research investment in infrastructure negotiations: “APLU was disheartened to see that the White House offered to recede their initial proposal to invest in research and development (R&D) as a component of infrastructure package discussions. The Administration′s initial proposal to invest $40 billion to upgrade research infrastructure in laboratories across the country, including brick-and-mortar facilities and computing capabilities and networks is worthy of pursuit and much needed. Similarly, the Administration‘s plan outlined worthwhile investments to support infrastructure across a broad spectrum of institutions, including Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities...”
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CDC, NIFA, and Cooperative Extension Partner to Address Health Disparities in Underserved Communities

The Extension Foundation, in cooperation with APLU’s Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), with funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is funding a nearly $10 million grant opportunity to address health disparities among rural and other underserved communities. This effort, called the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE) project, is providing two opportunities for land-grant universities to promote vaccine confidence.
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How Public Universities Distributed Emergency Financial Aid During the Pandemic

As part of a March virtual convening on affordability, APLU invited campus leaders and a representative from APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs to reflect on the 2020 CARES Act, which enabled distribution of federally funded emergency aid, and implications for the future. The panelists reflected on the effectiveness of distributing federally funded Student Emergency Grants Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), established and funded through multiple rounds of federal coronavirus relief legislation. Learn more about the HEERF funds. Watch the full session here.
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APLU Joins as Founding Member of COVID-19 Community Corps

APLU joined as a founding member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services‘ COVID-19 Community Corps to increase public confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Through a nationwide network of trusted messengers and consistent, fact-based public health messaging, the campaign helps the public make informed decisions about their health and COVID-19, including steps to protect themselves and their communities. The campaign has produced a host of resources for educating various communities about COVID-19 and their health.
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BD Announces New Distribution and Retail Partners for BD Veritor™ At-Home COVID-19 Test

BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX), a leading global medical company, today announced the BD Veritor™ At-Home COVID-19 Test is now available for purchase through Everly Health, a digital health company at the forefront of the virtual diagnostics-driven care industry, and Southeastern Grocers, parent company of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket, and Winn-Dixie stores, a leading grocery store serving the southeastern United States
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BD Collaborates with U.S. Government on Development of COVID-19 Combination Diagnostic Tests

BARDA to Invest $24.7 Million for BD to Develop New Tests for Core Labs, Hospitals and Point-of-Care Locations
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BD Begins Shipments Of First Smartphone Interpreted Over-The-Counter Rapid COVID-19 Test

- Advanced Technology Solves Common At-Home Testing Challenges FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., Oct. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX), a leading global medical technology company, today announced it has started to ship the first over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 rapid antigen test to use computer vision technology in a smartphone to interpret testing results, and the test is now available for purchase online in Amazon\'s store.
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Labcorp, PerkinElmer latest to target COVID-flu combo test market

BD has a point-of-care antigen test, which received FDA emergency use authorization in March, that can rapidly test for both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time providing results in 15 minutes, as well as a PCR test that can be used in hospital laboratories.
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“I Am BIO” Podcast: Biotech Changed COVID. But Did COVID Change Biotech?

Science—particularly biotechnology—helped change the course of COVID with the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics. However, it is also true that COVID has changed biotechnology. This episode looks at the way biotech addressed the crisis and explores how the crisis, in turn, changed the biotech industry—its reputation, its exposure to a broader audience and its willingness to adopt lessons learned from the pandemic.
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I AM BIO Podcast: Uncut with Dr. Richard Hatchett

This is the I am BIO Uncut Series where we bring you a full interview from Monday′s podcast complete and unfiltered. In this episode, we′re joined by Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI, a global vaccine procurement initiative.
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I AM BIO Podcast: We Can and Must SHARE Vaccines with the Globe

As the good news about the decline of COVID infections in the US continues to reverberate, the threat of the pandemic still looms globally. “Nobody is safe until everybody is safe.” Sharing life-saving vaccines around the world as quickly as possible defies a simple solution. This episode explores the recommendations and best solutions to address global distribution challenges and questions a simplistic proposal offered by some countries to the WHO: waiving Intellectual Property rights for the vaccines. Will the waiver of these protections threaten to undermine the very system that produced life-saving science in the first place?
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BIO Cheers Biden Announcement to Share 20 Million Doses of Vaccines with Developing Nations

\"The White House’s decision to send Covid-19 vaccines to countries in need is an important step to ensuring people around the globe have access to lifesaving shots and ending this global pandemic. “As part of BIO’s recently-proposed Global “SHARE” program, we’ve made clear the urgent need to strengthen and support healthcare systems in low-and middle-income countries in addressing COVID. The president’s decision to relinquish millions of doses is an important part of achieving this goal.
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BU Scientists Are Prepared to Detect Omicron—and Other Variants

BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) has been monitoring COVID-19 variants from BU and Boston Medical Center tests since February
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Depression Rates in US Tripled When the Pandemic First Hit—Now, They’re Even Worse

Depression among adults in the United States tripled in the early 2020 months of the global coronavirus pandemic—jumping from 8.5 percent before the pandemic to a staggering 27.8 percent. New research from Boston University School of Public Health reveals that the elevated rate of depression has persisted into 2021, and even worsened, climbing to 32.8 percent and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.
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Researchers at Harvard, BU to study possible links between coronavirus vaccines and changes in menstruation

Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Public Health are among a group of institutions awarded funding to study potential links between coronavirus vaccinations and changes in menstruation. Researchers at five institutions were awarded a total of $1.67 million by the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) to look into the question after anecdotal reports from women earlier this year that after they were vaccinated, they saw changes, including earlier, heavier, and more painful periods. Laura Payne, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and a psychologist who directs the affiliated McLean Hospital’s Clinical and Translational Pain Research Laboratory, said she would be studying a group of 80 adolescent girls “to find out whether there is a relationship between the administration of the COVID vaccination and changes in the menstrual cycle.”
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Do COVID Vaccines Affect Menstruation?

Some women across the United States have anecdotally reported that after receiving their coronavirus vaccines, they experienced heavier, earlier, and more painful periods. Now a Boston University researcher is leading one of five teams awarded a total of $1.67 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate whether COVID-19 vaccines have an impact on menstruation.
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Corning Accelerates Delivery of Life-Saving Treatments and Critical Drugs with Expanded Pharmaceutical Glass Packaging Portfolio

Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) today introduced Corning Velocity® Vials, specially engineered Type I borosilicate vials externally coated with the company’s proprietary technology, which are helping industry-leading drugmakers respond to the pandemic at speed. The increased efficiency and throughput enabled by Velocity Vials can drive faster manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, helping address industry supply chain challenges and meet global demand.
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Corning Inc. announces Velocity® Vials to help speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines

Corning Incorporated today introduced Corning Velocity® Vials, which the company says will help “industry-leading drugmakers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic at speed.” The specially engineered Type I borosilicate vials are externally coated with the company’s “proprietary technology,” which Corning says leads to increased efficiency and speed of the Velocity Vials’ manufacturing.
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Stevanato Group and Corning Incorporated sign licensing agreement to offer Corning Valor® Glass vials in presterilized SG EZ-fill® packaging configuration

The partnership offers the industry an enhanced product with improved chemical durability and world-class ready-to-use expertise, serving early stage drug development through marketed drug manufacturing.
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Corning Valor® Glass Positioned to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccine Preparation

A recent invention by Corning – a radical new kind of glass composition for vaccine vials – might typically attract little attention outside the pharmaceutical industry. But now it stands to play a significant role in getting more vaccines to more people as quickly as possible.
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Study: Rapid Test for Detecting COVID-19 Highly Accurate for Children and Adolescents

In a large prospective study of just over 1,000 patients ages 17 and younger who were seen at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital (BCCFH) testing site during a seven-month period last year, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine and collaborating institutions report that a rapid antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — proved highly accurate when compared to the established standard virus detection method: the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).  
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Early Use of Convalescent Plasma May Help Outpatients with COVID-19 Avoid Hospitalization

The results of a nationwide, multicenter clinical trial led by Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provides solid evidence for the use of plasma from convalescent patients — those who have recovered from the disease and whose blood contains antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 — as an early treatment.
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Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Awarded Grant to Study COVID-19 Safety Measures in Schools

Experts with the Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs have been awarded a one-year, $1.47 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to embark on the Parents and Communities as Experts (PACE) study to understand families’ perceptions of public health recommendations regarding COVID-19 in schools.
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Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Awarded Grant to Study COVID-19 Safety Measures in Schools

Experts with the Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education at Johns Hopkins Children\'s Center, the Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs have been awarded a one-year, $1.47 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to embark on the Parents and Communities as Experts study, known as PACE, to understand families\' perceptions of public health recommendations regarding COVID-19 in schools.
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Johnson & Johnson Discussions to License its COVID-19 Vaccine to Aspen Reach Advanced Stage

Johnson & Johnson is pleased to reach an advanced stage in its discussions for a potential licensing agreement for its COVID-19 vaccine with Aspen SA Operations (Pty) Ltd, which is based in South Africa. The parties will continue to work toward a definitive agreement that builds on their existing manufacturing collaboration and would enable the first COVID-19 vaccine to be manufactured and sold by an African company, in Africa and for people living in Africa. Currently, COVID-19 vaccination rates are significantly lower across Africa compared to those seen in high-income countries.
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Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Named One of Time’s Best Inventions of 2021

Yesterday, the editors of Time announced that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been selected as one of Time\'s Best Inventions of 2021.  
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“See You Now” Podcast: Vax is Trending

In this episode, we check in with Melody Butler, BSN, RN, CIC, the Founder and Executive Director of Nurses Who Vaccinate, to get an update on how she and nurses around the world are responding, mobilizing, and innovating our vaccination efforts, messaging, and communication strategies. This conversation is particularly relevant at a time when an explosion of misinformation is fueling vaccine hesitancy and children and adults around the world need to catch up on all their life-saving vaccinations.
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Johnson & Johnson Announces Real-World Evidence and Phase 3 Data Confirming Strong and Long-Lasting Protection of Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine in the U.S.

Additional data show a booster increases protection 94 percent protection in the U.S. with booster given at two months. Four-fold increase in antibodies when given at two months. 12-fold increase in antibodies when booster given at six months.
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No Omicron immunity without booster, study finds

n additional “booster” dose of Moderna or Pfizer mRNA-based vaccine is needed to provide immunity against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study by researchers at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. The results of this study, reported in the journal Cell, indicate that traditional dosing regimens of COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States do not produce antibodies capable of recognizing and neutralizing the Omicron variant.
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Study finds the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect the inner ear

Many Covid-19 patients have reported symptoms affecting the ears, including hearing loss and tinnitus. Dizziness and balance problems can also occur, suggesting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be able to infect the inner ear. A new study from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear provides evidence that the virus can indeed infect cells of the inner ear, including hair cells, which are critical for both hearing and balance. The researchers also found that the pattern of infection seen in human inner ear tissue is consistent with the symptoms seen in a study of 10 Covid-19 patients who reported a variety of ear-related symptoms.
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Carbon nanotube-based sensor can detect SARS-CoV-2 proteins

Using specialized carbon nanotubes, MIT engineers have designed a novel sensor that can detect SARS-CoV-2 without any antibodies, giving a result within minutes. Their new sensor is based on technology that can quickly generate rapid and accurate diagnostics, not just for Covid-19 but for future pandemics, the researchers say.
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Deep learning helps predict new drug combinations to fight Covid-19

The existential threat of Covid-19 has highlighted an acute need to develop working therapeutics against emerging health concerns. One of the luxuries deep learning has afforded us is the ability to modify the landscape as it unfolds — so long as we can keep up with the viral threat, and access the right data. As with all new medical maladies, oftentimes the data need time to catch up, and the virus takes no time to slow down, posing a difficult challenge as it can quickly mutate and become resistant to existing drugs. This led scientists from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health to ask: How can we identify the right synergistic drug combinations for the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2?  
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Shortage Of Giant Sterile Liners Threatens Global Vaccines Rollout

In addition to the demand for COVID-19 shots outstripping supply, vaccine manufacturers are struggling to secure supplies of giant plastic bags used in bioreactors that mix pharmaceutical ingredients, thus creating a bottleneck, resulting in more delays of vaccine rollout, the Financial Times reports... MilliporeSigma, a division of Germany’s Merck & Co., said that it had been working on expanding facilities and added that it was also reliant on a web of smaller suppliers who were scaling-up at speed. Thermo Fisher Scientific, which also makes the single-use liners, said it had increased production capacity by 50% in 2020 with further expansion by another 50% this year.
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The Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice received a donation of over 10,000 masks from MilliporeSigma

The Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice received a donation of over 10,000 masks from MilliporeSigma last month. Said Dawn Weidemann, site training coordinator for MilliporeSigma: “As part of MilliporeSigma’s COVID-19 efforts in our community, we were able to donate FDA-certified medical-grade masks. Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice is a local health care organization that is providing COVID-19 relief efforts and...”
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MilliporeSigma Acquires AmpTec to Expand mRNA Capabilities for Vaccines, Treatments and Diagnostics

MilliporeSigma today announced the acquisition of AmpTec, a leading Hamburg, Germany-based, mRNA contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). The deal strengthens MilliporeSigma’s capabilities to develop and manufacture mRNA for its customers for use in vaccines, treatments and diagnostics applicable in Covid-19 and many other diseases.
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The Pandemic Response CoLab

The Pandemic Response CoLab is a joint project by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), MIT Media Lab’s Community Biotechnology Initiative, and founding member MilliporeSigma. The project is an open, online collaboration platform that invites anyone, from individuals to groups, from communities to businesses, to develop actionable solutions for challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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COVID-19 Boosters Increase Protection with Alexis Demonbreun, PhD

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Northwestern Scientists Investigate COVID-19 Vaccines, Tests and Disparities

As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the two-year mark, Northwestern Medicine scientists continue to tackle every facet of the disease, from investigating coronavirus vaccines’ potential for providing immunity against similar coronaviruses to developing novel rapid antigen-based tests and examining disparities in COVID-19 case and mortality rates in Chicago.  
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Boosters increase protection over full vaccine dose

A new Northwestern University study on the effectiveness of COVID-19 boosters shows they generate a stronger antibody response than after a full two-dose vaccination. These are the first findings showing the antibody response to booster doses is much larger than the response after the second vaccine dose and even higher than the responses among people who had natural infections as well as full vaccination.
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AstraZeneca’s vaccine dosing ‘mistake’ led to new dosage finding in mice

A dosing error made during an AstraZeneca-University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial has led to a new dosage finding in mice, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. During the AstraZeneca-Oxford trial, some human participants erroneously received a half dose of their first shot, followed by a full dose for their second shot. Paradoxically, the trial showed that volunteers who got a lower dose of the first shot were better protected against COVID-19 than those who received two full doses.
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Understanding Long COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines long COVID as health problems lasting four or more weeks after first getting infected with the novel coronavirus, impacting as many as one out of every four patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19. The aftermath of symptoms for self-described “long haulers” is unfortunately all too real: one patient shared that even after a full 12 months since he “recovered” from his COVID-19 infection, he is still dealing with symptoms like trouble breathing, coughing, shortness of breath and having to rely on an oxygen tank because of severely damaged lungs.
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Ensuring global vaccine equity requires eliminating trade and regulatory barriers

Since the emergency use authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, health experts have underscored that in order to combat the pandemic, vaccines must be widely available, accessible and reach people worldwide. To help make this a reality, the biopharmaceutical industry, governments and other stakeholders have been working tirelessly to scale up manufacturing and production and establish mechanisms for vaccine dose sharing to support equitable access globally. Today, COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across 180 countries, and production is expected to climb to 11 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
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PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl and Sage Therapeutics CEO Barry Greene: Coming Together to Fight COVID-19

This year, the biopharmaceutical research industry has been working around the clock to combat the COVID-19 virus, including developing effective therapeutics to treat COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent future infections. A key piece of that has been the impact the pandemic has had on mental health. PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl recently had the opportunity to connect with Barry Greene, CEO of Sage Therapeutics, about the company’s efforts to address COVID-19’s impact.
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Coming together to fight COVID-19: A conversation with Barry Greene, CEO of Sage Therapeutics

This year, our industry has been working around the clock to combat the COVID-19 virus, including developing effective therapeutics to treat COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent future infections. A key piece of that has been the impact the pandemic has had on mental health. I had the opportunity to connect with Barry Greene, CEO of Sage Therapeutics, about the company’s efforts to address COVID-19’s impact.
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Thermo Fisher Scientific Launches SpeciMAX Stabilized Saliva Collection Kit

As global SARS-CoV-2 research efforts continue, labs are increasingly conducting scientific studies using banked saliva samples, taking advantage of a sample type which is easy to access and non-invasive. To this end, Thermo Fisher Scientific has launched the Thermo Scientific SpeciMAX Stabilized Saliva Collection Kit*, which is designed to safely collect saliva for research.
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Thermo Fisher Scientific Awarded $192.5 Million U.S. Government Contract to Expand Domestic Pipette Tip Manufacturing

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE: TMO), the world leader in serving science, today announced a $192.5 million contract award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure reliable domestic production of pipette tips, which are used within research and diagnostic labs to dispense precise amounts of liquid. In mid-2020, the company announced its own investments to increase pipette tip production capacity to support COVID-19 testing. With the DoD award, issued on behalf of and in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Thermo Fisher will co-invest with the U.S. government in building a new, state-of-the-art, energy efficient manufacturing facility for pipette tips, which are used in vital disease research and in high volumes for processing of diagnostic tests nationally, including COVID-19, during the pandemic.
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FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization for Two Next-Generation COVID-19 Assays from Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the TaqPath COVID-19 Fast PCR Combo Kit 2.0 and the TaqPath COVID-19 RNase P Combo Kit 2.0, both highly accurate assays designed with increased target redundancy to compensate for current mutations and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. Both PCR-based kits leverage an updated design from the original TaqPath assays, targeting eight different genes across three regions of the virus that causes COVID-19. This built-in redundancy helps ensure accuracy of results in situations where gene expression in the virus vary as new mutations emerge.
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Thermo Fisher Scientific Updates Customizable TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel to Detect Delta and Lambda Variants

Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, today announced it has updated its Applied Biosystems TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel to detect the Delta and Lambda strains. First launched in March 2021, the research panel features a customizable menu of verified real-time PCR assays for identification of SARS-CoV-2 mutations. The panel enables laboratories to track known mutations by selecting from a menu of over 50 assays designed to screen for different variants. The TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel is highly scalable, allowing up to hundreds of samples to be run to identify one or multiple mutations so labs can scale their surveillance operations based on testing need.
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Chewing gum to block COVID-19? Penn researchers hope so, but there’s a long way to go.

An experimental chewing gum could reduce the spread of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a recent study by University of Pennsylvania researchers published in the journal Molecular Therapy. You might already have noticed headlines calling the findings “fresh hope” in our fight against COVID-19. But how excited should we be? And would this gum work against omicron, the newest variant of concern?
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At-Home COVID-19 Results with the Click of a Smartphone: Penn Researchers Develop Highly-Sensitive Rapid Test

With the return of in-person schooling and the Biden administration’s recently-announced vaccine and testing mandate, fast and reliable COVID-19 testing remains a critical component to controlling the pandemic. At-home antigen tests, which can give results within 15 minutes, are now an attractive and convenient option for the public to quickly find out their COVID-19 status. That said, there is a major risk involved — the tests’ results can often be inaccurate. “Antigen tests are hugely insensitive to early infections when your viral load is low,” said Ping Wang, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “You may test negative and think you’re safe to return to work or school, when in reality, you’re infected and infectious to others.”  
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Penn scientists win $3 million Breakthrough Prize for RNA research that enabled COVID-19 vaccines

Sixteen years after their research at the University of Pennsylvania paved the way for billions to be vaccinated against COVID-19, two scientists have been honored with a $3 million Breakthrough Prize. The award for Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, one of five such honors announced Thursday for achievements in science and math, recognizes their success in modifying the genetic molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) so it can instruct human cells to make customized proteins.
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COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine that Uses Fundamental Penn Technology Receives FDA Approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the first full approval to a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, which uses modified mRNA technology invented and developed by scientists in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, whose years of research in mRNA science laid a critical piece of the foundation for the largest global vaccination campaign in history. A research partnership between Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research, and Katalin Karikó, PhD, an adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at Penn and a senior vice president at BioNTech, dating back two decades led to the development of modified mRNA technology that has been licensed as a key foundational component of the highly effective Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine being deployed worldwide.
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Why some COVID-19 patients lose sense of smell, taste and some don’t: Researchers are narrowing in on cause

Researchers may have narrowed down the reason some people who contract COVID-19 lose their sense of smell and taste. A new study published in the journal Nature Genetics points to damaged cells in the olfactory epithelium, a part of the nose that traps odor molecules and submits a response to the brain, as the likely culprit.
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Research Snapshot: COVID-19 virus test sensitivity varies with body’s circadian rhythm

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health care practitioners have relied on COVID-19 testing to tell them what safety precautions to follow with each patient. Carl Johnson, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences, wondered how the virus might act differently depending on the time of day and the body’s circadian rhythms.  
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“Ultra-potent” antibody against COVID-19 variants isolated at VUMC

A technology developed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has led to the discovery of an “ultra-potent” monoclonal antibody against multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, including the delta variant. The antibody has rare characteristics that make it a valuable addition to the limited set of broadly reactive antibody therapeutic candidates, researchers reported Sept. 15 in the journal Cell Reports.  
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“Vanderbilt Health DNA: Discoveries in Action” Podcast

The first episode of the second season of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s original podcast series, Vanderbilt Health DNA: Discoveries in Action, tackles bold questions and issues pushed to the surface by COVID-19. This season, the award-winning 10-episode series delves into a host of topics, including the role of clinical trials in advancing medicine, equity and representation, what makes a society pandemic-ready, evolving ICU care, and the permanent imprint of the pandemic on how medical institutions connect to their communities.
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Antibodies discovered at Vanderbilt for prevention of COVID-19 granted FDA emergency use authorization

On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for a long-acting antibody combination which protects against COVID-19, discovered last year at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). A number of medical conditions result in immune compromise, from treatments for many cancers to organ transplantation.
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Antibodies discovered at Vanderbilt for prevention of COVID-19 granted FDA emergency use authorization

On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for a long-acting antibody combination which protects against COVID-19, discovered last year at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). A number of medical conditions result in immune compromise, from treatments for many cancers to organ transplantation.
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“Ultra-potent” antibody against COVID-19 variants isolated at VUMC

A technology developed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has led to the discovery of an “ultra-potent” monoclonal antibody against multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, including the delta variant. The antibody has rare characteristics that make it a valuable addition to the limited set of broadly reactive antibody therapeutic candidates, researchers reported Sept. 15 in the journal Cell Reports.  
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“Vanderbilt Health DNA: Discoveries in Action” Podcast

The first episode of the second season of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s original podcast series, Vanderbilt Health DNA: Discoveries in Action, tackles bold questions and issues pushed to the surface by COVID-19. This season, the award-winning 10-episode series delves into a host of topics, including the role of clinical trials in advancing medicine, equity and representation, what makes a society pandemic-ready, evolving ICU care, and the permanent imprint of the pandemic on how medical institutions connect to their communities.
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COVID-19 vaccine elicits weak antibody response in people taking immunosuppressant

People who received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while on TNF inhibitors — a class of immunosuppressants used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions — generated less powerful and shorter-lived antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19 than healthy people and those on other kinds of immunosuppressants, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The scientists found this was especially apparent regarding the virus’s delta variant.
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COVID-19 long-haulers at risk of developing kidney damage, disease

Research continues to mount indicating that many people who’ve had COVID-19 go on to suffer a range of adverse conditions months after their initial infections. A deep dive into federal health data adds to those concerns, pointing to a significant decline in kidney function among those dubbed COVID-19 long-haulers — and even among those who had mild infections of the virus. The data, plumbed by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, show that those infected with SARS-CoV-2 are at an increased likelihood of developing kidney damage as well as chronic and end-stage kidney diseases.
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COVID-19 vaccine elicits antibodies in 90% taking immunosuppressants

COVID-19 vaccination elicited antibody responses in nearly nine out of 10 people with weakened immune systems, although their responses were only about one-third as strong as those mounted by healthy people, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  
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“Show Me The Science” Podcast: New threats from highly contagious delta variant

Thousands of people in Missouri and around the country are coming down with new COVID-19 infections as the delta variant of the virus rages. In this episode of \"Show Me the Science,\" an infectious diseases specialist and a data scientist from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis talk about the need to get more people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and to enforce other public health measures while waiting for those vaccines to provide more immunity to more people.
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Coronavirus Vaccines and People with Cancer: A Q&A with Dr. Steven Pergam

Many people being treated for cancer are asking whether they should get one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Steven Pergam, M.D., of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, was a co-leader of a committee formed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) that recently released recommendations on COVID-19 vaccination in cancer patients. In this Q&A, Dr. Pergam discusses some of the questions people with cancer and cancer survivors have about these vaccines.
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An Unprecedented Impact Part 2: The Threat to the Research Pipeline

Not until the COVID-19 pandemic has something caused such a massive disruption to ongoing research in all fields, delaying and jeopardizing important work, stalling life-saving clinical trials and upending the career paths of many graduate students and early career scientists.
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An Unprecedented Impact Part 1: The Effort to Combat COVID-19

From a laser-like focus by researchers, medical professionals and life sciences and biopharmaceutical companies on understanding, mitigating, treating and eradicating the pandemic, to massive disruptions to ongoing research in all fields that is jeopardizing important work, stalling life-saving clinical trials and upending the career paths of many graduate students and early career scientists, COVID-19 is touching all aspects of biomedical research. Part 1 in this series of fact sheets focuses on the effort to combat COVID-19.

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