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29th April 2020
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News

Alzheimer’s biomarker

Maria Burke, 27/04/2020

An international team of researchers has discovered a new biomarker that could be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms emerge.

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Antibody Covid promise

Anthony King, 27/04/2020

Antibodies taken from recovered patients or made in cell cultures are showing promise in treating Covid-19 patients.

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Attack on Covid-19

Sarah Houlton, 27/04/2020

With Covid-19 causing havoc around the world, the biopharmaceutical industry is playing a key role in the hunt for treatments and preventative vaccines, as well as donating expertise and goods to the treatment efforts.
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Batty Covid origins

Anthony King, 27/04/2020

Animal coronaviruses infect people quite frequently. After sampling a cave in Southern China for five years, scientists reported a coronavirus menagerie in its bat residents, including 11 similar to the SARS virus (PLOS Pathogens, doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1006698).

Coronavirus update from SCI

Sharon Todd, 27/04/2020

In these exceptional times our priorities are the welfare of members, staff and our community, continuity of services to ensure our community continues to work through this next period, and to support any government responses to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Flexible fish

Cath O’Driscoll, 27/04/2020

Wearable electronics and other devices attached to soft surfaces must be sufficiently flexible to stretch and bend in tandem with the movement of their host. Researchers in China have introduced an alternative substrate derived from collagen in waste fish scales, which is readily degraded in soil and easily recycled.

High salt diet lowers immunity

Maria Burke, 27/04/2020

A diet high in salt is known to raise blood pressure but now new research indicates it can also significantly weaken the immune system. Given that the typical Western diet is often salt-heavy, these findings reveal that people might be making themselves more vulnerable to bacterial infections.
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HIV drug targets

Shem Oirere, 27/04/2020

Between 2007 and 2017, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi had aimed to put 4,525,635 people living with HIV/AIDS on anti-retroviral treatment (ART), as agreed under the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
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Immunoassay for sepsis

XiaoZhi Lim, 27/04/2020

Nearly 50m cases of sepsis were reported in 2017 worldwide, with some 20m cases occurring in children under five years old, according to a recent report in The Lancet. Millions of people die as a result every year. Alberto Escarpa and his colleagues have now reported a proof-of-concept immunoassay using micromotors.

Microneedle boost for vaccines

Anthony King, 27/04/2020

The largest ever vaccination study of micro-needle injections reports that this approach induces a faster and stronger immune response than a regular vaccine jab.

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Pfizer joins vaccine race

Anthony King, 27/04/2020

Pfizer has teamed up with German biotech BioNTech to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The collaboration will leverage the latter’s mRNA vaccine technology.

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Quantum keys to lock down data

Cath O'Driscoll, 27/04/2020

Modern society is increasingly dependent on data security, but rapid advances in computing technology leave present day data protection methods vulnerable to hacking. Quantum key distribution (QKD) is an encryption protocol that uses the quantum properties of light to generate secure random keys.

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Ringing the changes

Cath O'Driscoll, 27/04/2020

Organic ring-containing structures are ubiquitous in nature and widely used in pharmaceuticals, sugars and perfumes. Many ring structures are made from acyclic precursors, by well understood processes, however, some cyclic molecules are difficult to make using current methods. Now, researchers have applied a novel type of ‘autocatalysis’ to produce these structures

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Ripeness sensor

Maria Burke, 27/04/2020

US chemists have created a small sensor to detect the gas in concentrations as low as 15 parts/bn, which could be used to monitor fruit and vegetables as they are shipped and stored – so reducing food waste.

RNA vaccine printer

Anthony King, 27/04/2020

A German biopharma company is building an RNA printer to speed­ily generate emergency vaccines against future pandemics. The printer would be swiftly dispatched to the location of an outbreaks to make and dispense vaccine.
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Sanitising Covid-19

Shem Oirere, 27/04/2020

A sudden spike in demand for hand cleaning sanitisers has triggered acute shortage in Kenya and Uganda, along with the emergence of fake sanitisers. It has also spurred government incentives to woo manufacturers to produce more of the licensed products – which in the case of Kenya should have an ethanol content of at least 60%.
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Screening for low cost Covid drug

Anthony King, 27/04/2020

A US lab has screened 2000 US FDA approved drugs against a crucial enzyme of the Covid-19 virus and turned up surprises. They published the top 20 hits on the pre-print server ChemRxiv, spotlighting some existing antivirals but also a heart drug.
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Seed treatment confusion

Maria Burke, 27/04/2020

Pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, are increasingly used to coat the seeds of major field crops, but their use is under-reported, according to an international team of researchers. They say this lack of data could lead to pesticide overuse and complicate efforts to evaluate the value of different pest management strategies.

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