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‘Antisense’ compounds offer new weapon against influenza A

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Challenging a long-held convention, University researchers have shown they can inhibit the influenza A virus by targeting its genomic RNA with “antisense” compounds.

Their findings, highlighted on the cover of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, offer scientists a new way to attack an increasingly drug-resistant pathogen that causes an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths a year.

“Antisense” compounds are synthesized with nucleotides, the building blocks of nucleic acid, often shown as various combinations of A, U, G and C. When the compounds – called antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) – bind to the targeted genomic RNA, they block its ability to replicate.

The collaboration, involving the labs of Douglas Turner, professor of chemistry; Luis Martinez-Sobrido, associate professor of microbiology and immunology; and two researchers in Poland, reported that “antisense” compounds targeting one of the virus’ eight genomic RNA segments caused a five- to 25-fold reduction of influenza A virus in cell cultures.

“That’s a big difference,” Martinez-Sobrido says. “When mice are infected with 10,000 viruses, they all die. However, with 25 times less virus, all animals can survive infection and they don’t even develop symptoms.”

Read More: ‘Antisense’ compounds offer new weapon against influenza A

URMC Researchers Discover Rare Flu-Thwarting Mutation

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A rare and improbable mutation in a protein encoded by an influenza virus renders the virus defenseless against the body’s immune system. This University of Rochester Medical Center discovery could provide a new strategy for live influenza vaccines in the future.

A new approach to the live flu vaccine would be particularly advantageous right now after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped recommending use of the live attenuate flu vaccine, FluMist® earlier this year. Several studies found that the pain-free nasal spray, which was used in about one-third of young children in the U.S., offered no protection to that especially vulnerable population. The flu shot, on the other hand, performed well and the CDC recommends using this vaccine in place of FluMist®.

“There is a need to understand what's happening with the existing live vaccine and potentially a need to develop a new one,” said David Topham, Ph.D., Marie Curran Wilson and Joseph Chamberlain Wilson Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC and author of the study. “We proposed that the mutation we found could be used to create a live vaccine.”

Read More: URMC Researchers Discover Rare Flu-Thwarting Mutation

Anna Bird Receives Scholarship and Trainee Award

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Anna Bird, a PhD student in Dr. Jennifer Anolik's lab has been awarded the Elkes Foundation Scholarship ($1200) for travel to Keystone Symposium in Stockholm, Sweden and the AAI Trainee Abstract Award ($750) for AAI Conference, Seattle 2016. Congrats Anna!

Minsoo Kim Wins Dolph O. Adams Award

Friday, July 15, 2016

Congratulations to professor of Microbiology and Immunology and The Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, Minsoo Kim, who has won the 2016 Dolph O. Adams Award. Dr. Kim will be accepting the award at the SLB Annual Meeting in September in Verona Italy!

This annual award is named in honor of the outstanding macrophage researcher Dolph O. Adams, M.D., Ph.D. The award is to recognize excellence of an investigator working in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms of host defense and inflammation.

Dr. Michael Nussenzweig Gives Melville A. Hare Lecture

Monday, May 30, 2016

Photo of Dr. Michael Nussenzweig with award Michael Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D. gave the Melville Hare Memorial Lecture on May 12. The lecture, "The HIV Vaccine Problem" was organized by the students of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and co-sponsored by the University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research.

Denise Skrombolas Receives Award

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dr. Denise Skrombolas was awarded the Rochester Vaccine Fellowship created by a donation from Dr. Michael Pichichero in honor of Dr. Porter Anderson one of the pioneers in the Hib vaccine.

Community Talk on Zika Virus Features Infectious Disease Expert from Brazil

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

As the warm summer season approaches, the possibility of a Zika outbreak in the United States looms large. The greatest concern is for women of childbearing age, as studies continue to link exposure to the virus in pregnancy to serious birth defects like microcephaly, hearing loss and blindness.

Esper Kallas, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious diseases specialist and professor of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil will speak about Zika virus on Monday, May 9 at 7:30 pm in the Eisenhart Auditorium at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. The event is free and open to the public. Kallas will be joined by a panel of experts from the University of Rochester Medical Center:

Read More: Community Talk on Zika Virus Features Infectious Disease Expert from Brazil

Scientists Seek to Improve Flu Vaccine for the Very Young

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Scientists at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry have discovered a way to make a nasal spray flu vaccine safer for those who are at greatest risk of catching the flu, particularly infants under the age of 2. The work is early and a long way from being applied in people, but offers promise for a vaccine that could better protect the most vulnerable.

Read More: Scientists Seek to Improve Flu Vaccine for the Very Young

CTSI Trainee Pilot supports better understanding of lupus

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lupus is a devastating disease that affects around 1 in 2,000 people in the U.S., and involves chronic inflammation and tissue damage in various organs including the skin, kidneys, and joints. Although the mortality rate for lupus has improved in recent decades, a diagnosis of lupus often means elevated risk of early mortality and lifetime of immunosuppressive therapy, which can carry significant side effects.

Read More: CTSI Trainee Pilot supports better understanding of lupus

What Frogs Can Teach Us About Tumors

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry are using frogs as a model to study human diseases. These frogs, called South African clawed frogs or Xenopus laevis, may not resemble humans on the outside, but they are very similar on a genetic level.

Read More: What Frogs Can Teach Us About Tumors