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Regulatory Roundup: Designations come through before year's end
December 7, 2020 -- This week's Regulatory Roundup covers activities from November 30 to December 4 and is filled with breakthrough, orphan, and rare disease designations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. Several cancer, immunotherapy, and vaccine companies also submitted biologic license applications to move their candidates forward.  Discuss
Cas9 modification can improve efficiency of gene editing
December 4, 2020 -- A modification to CRISPR/Cas9 systems can improve their functionality for gene editing in DNA repair, according to a report published in Nature Communications on November 27. The new Cas9 variant also improves the safety of the system for precision gene editing applications.  Discuss
SARS-CoV-2 hijacks lung cells for its own purposes
December 3, 2020 -- The first map of molecular responses of human lung cells to SARS-CoV-2 infection has been developed. It shows that the novel coronavirus causes significant protein and phosphorylation damage, effectively hijacking lung cells to enable its entry and propagation, according to a study published in Molecular Cell.  Discuss
Study unravels why children are more protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection
December 2, 2020 -- One of the more puzzling aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the resistance of children to the negative effects of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A new study published December 1 in Archives of Disease in Childhood indicates that this resistance may be due to differences in the immune system, certain blood vessel characteristics, and microbiota composition in children.  Discuss
Researchers cook up 'recipes' for stem cell programming
December 1, 2020 -- Transcription factors (proteins that control gene expression) can be used in simple "recipes" to easily convert stem cells into hundreds of different cells and tissues, according to a new study published in Nature Biotechnology on November 30.  Discuss
Should more COVID-19 research be based on mucosal immunity?
November 30, 2020 -- As most COVID-19 tests are based on nasal swabs or saliva samples that measure the amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the mouth or nose, it is important to understand how immunity to the virus develops in these mucous membranes. In a perspective article published in Frontiers in Immunology on November 30, researchers warned that the large mucosal immune system has been understudied during the pandemic.  Discuss
New evidence shows SARS-CoV-2 mutations are not more transmissible
November 25, 2020 -- In direct contrast to previous research, researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 mutations are not tied to increased transmissibility in humans. The findings, published in Nature Communications on November 25, suggest that mutations such as D614G, while common, are neutral to viral evolution.  Discuss
Superspreader events drive global SARS-CoV-2 transmission
November 24, 2020 -- So-called "superspreader events" have been a major contributor to widespread transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a new analysis of outbreaks in Austria. Researchers used deep viral genome sequencing to trace the evolution of the pandemic in the country and how the virus spread beyond its borders, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine on November 23.  Discuss
Families weigh risks of coronavirus exposure over Thanksgiving
November 23, 2020 -- Parents are weighing the risks and benefits of gathering with extended family this year, amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. Most parents are planning to prioritize continuing Thanksgiving traditions while reducing transmission risks, according to a new national Mott Poll.  Discuss
CRISPR phage offers precision medicine tool to fight bacterial infections
November 20, 2020 -- In an attempt to combat bacterial infections, Locus Biosciences is developing bacteriophage therapies that deliver CRISPR-Cas3 machinery directly to specific, targeted pathogens to obliterate them. Locus CEO Paul Garofolo discusses the company's technology and recent updates with The ScienceBoard.net.  Discuss
Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine strongly efficacious in older adults
November 19, 2020 -- Similar safety and immunogenicity profiles were observed in adults and older adults who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, according to data from the phase II clinical trial. The findings were published in the Lancet on November 18.  Discuss
Pfizer, BioNTech just days away from applying for EUA for COVID-19 vaccine
November 18, 2020 -- Pfizer and BioNTech have passed another milestone in their effort to deliver a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The companies on November 18 reported that their BNT162b2 vaccine candidate has met safety milestones and that they plan to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the product in the coming days.  Discuss
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