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Emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines likely in weeks, though U.S. still headed for a harsh winter

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MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL - "Vaccination of select high-risk individuals may start by the end of the year, but most likely the majority of vaccines will be released during the first quarter of 2021," said IDM's Amy Hartman. Vaccine makers still need to gather results from larger groups of recipients who have been studied for longer periods. "That's important," she said, "because some very rare side effects may not become apparent until either a... 

Drs. Dimitrov and Mellors progress in COVID-19 research using monoclonal antibody libraries

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TIMES OBSERVER - Pitt scientists have discovered the fastest way to identify potent, neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. When Chinese scientists published the virus' genetic sequence January, Dimitrov’s team rapidly generated the virus’s receptor binding domain-part of the spike protein that attaches to human cells-and used it as “bait” to pan their multiple libraries of over 1 trillion human antibodies built over preced... 

HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings during COVID-19

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As part of the Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, Mackey Friedman of IDM and BCHS joins IDM's Sarah Krier to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of people living with HIV including their beliefs and attitudes about their healthcare needs and experiences.  

Reed explains what airborne virus means for reopening

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THE CONVERSATION - Respiratory scientist Douglas Reed, IDM and Pitt Med, examined studies that have shown how the virus has spread, including at a call center in South Korea, a restaurant in China, and a choir practice in Washington state. “The evidence strongly suggests that airborne transmission happens easily and is likely a significant driver of this pandemic. It must be taken seriously as people begin to venture back out into the world.”  

Mellors discusses potential COVID-19 drug

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CUMBERLAND TIMES-NEWS - IDM’s John Mellors, UPMC’s chief of infectious diseases, said the biological molecule “is small, which means it penetrates into areas of the body where a full-sized antibody may not. It’s fully human, meaning that there’s no foreign material that’s likely to be rejected by the host… and it appears to be safe.” But he added, it's too early to talk about pricing of a treatment when it’s not (tested) in humans yet.  

Summer of 2020: Evolution of our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and ability to forecast COVID-19

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What we have learned during the summer of 2020 that puts SARS-CoV-2 into perspective with other emerging viruses and explores the current state of COVID-19 forecasting for the next few months. IDM's Amy Hartman talks what we know (and don't know) about SARS-CoV-2 and EPI's Donald Burke discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely phases of the epidemic in our region.    

What the Allegheny County Health Department is doing to address health disparities. An open letter to the community.

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NEXT PITTSBURGH - Allegheny County, like Minneapolis, has substantial racial disparities that impact all of us. Our communities are starkly divided along racial and ethnic lines. With these lines come distinct differences in access to housing, education, transportation and employment. These differences translate directly to worse health outcomes among our communities of color. In Allegheny County, black people have dramatically higher rates of b... 

My gym is reopening. Reed isn't sure it’s safe to work out there.

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NPR - If you want to exercise indoors, it’s safer to do it at home, says IDM’s Doug Reed, an immunologist and aerobiologist. If you do go to the gym and you’re breathing heavily, it would be better to double your regular physical distance to 12 feet, because we don’t know exactly how far virus particles travel when people are breathing heavily. The potential for being infected or spreading the infection could be much higher.  

Rappocciolo responds to possibility that cholesterol could be the culprit in COVID-19 deaths

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – The study is plausible, says IDM’s Giovanna Rappocciolo, but “rough around the edges”— a situation that could be remedied through the peer-review process. "If the research is verified, then COVID-19 potentially could be treated by manipulating cholesterol levels, with drugs already available. “It opens up a new field of study to try to exploit these pathways to stop the infection of cells.”  

Di, Deslouches, and Montelaro develop promising antibiotic molecule for drug-resistant infections

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CISTIC FIBROSIS NEWS TODAY - With the rising prevalence of superbugs, researchers are turning their attention to antibiotic molecules. Study co-authors Y. Peter Di (EOH), Berthony Deslouches (EOH), and Ronald Montelaro (IDM) have engineered a cationic antimicrobial peptide named WLBU2, licensed by Pitt spin-off Peptilogics, that's now in a clinical trial for preventing infections associated with knee and hip replacements.  

The History and Future of COVID-19

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COVID-19 is one of three novel coronavirus outbreaks in the past 20 years that originated in animals. How is the current outbreak similar and different from the previous ones? What course will COVID-19 take in Pennsylvania?  IDM's  Amy Hartman  puts the current outbreak in perspective with what we know (and don’t know) about SARS-CoV-2. EPI's  Donald Burke  discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely ph... 

Herpes virus infects billions of people worldwide. Rinaldo explains why there isn’t a vaccine yet.

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NBC NEWS – IDM's Charles Rinaldo said that many have tried to come up with vaccines that use two or three proteins out of the approximately 75 that make up the virus. Those would be safe, but have not protected well. Another approach has been to use a weakened form of the whole virus. In that attenuated, its replication capacity is weakened but it’s not as safe. These failures “are why this is such a monster.”  

Chinese biotech reports COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, but Reed is cautious

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SCIENCE - IDM's Douglas Reed, who is developing and testing COVID-19 vaccines in monkey studies, says the number of animals was too small to yield statistically significant results. His team also has a manuscript in preparation that raises concerns about the way the Sinovac team grew the stock of novel coronavirus used to challenge the animals: It may have caused changes that make it less reflective of the ones that infect humans.  

Reed works with lab animals to help defeat the new coronavirus

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SCIENCE – Dozens of research teams are racing to develop animal models that can help find effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. IDM’s Douglas Reed is staging experiments in air chambers that attempt to infect monkeys through this route, which both might increase pathogenicity and offer clues about transmission risks. He explains, “We’re trying to get enough virus into them to get some kind of disease.”  

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Recent IDM Publications

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Rubio publishes thesis in Antimicrobial Agents and Therapy 

Rubio publishes thesis in Antimicrobial Agents and Therapy

Abigail Rubio (IDM '20) recently published In vitro Susceptibility of Multidrug-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa following Treatment-emergent Resistance to Ceftolozane-tazobactam, comparing the in vitro susceptibility of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates 34 collected before and af... (04/20/2021)

Zika-related adverse outcomes in a cohort of pregnant women with rash in Pernambuco, Brazil 

Zika-related adverse outcomes in a cohort of pregnant women with rash in Pernambuco, Brazil

Multiple authors on behalf of the Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group, including IDM's Ernesto Marques, found the frequency of microcephaly in their results is consistent with previous studies. In addition, as children were evaluated at a later age and repeatedly by different groups of specialists... (03/19/2021)

SARS-CoV-2 infection of African green monkeys results in mild respiratory disease discernible by PET/CT imaging and shedding of infectious virus from both respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts 

SARS-CoV-2 infection of African green monkeys results in mild respiratory disease discernible by PET/CT imaging and shedding of infectious virus from both respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts

Amy L. Hartman, Sham Nambulli, Cynthia M. McMillen, Alexander G. White, Natasha Louise Tilston-Lunel, Joseph R. Albe, Emily Cottle, Matthew D. Dunn, L. James Frye, Theron H. Gilliland, Emily L. Olsen, Katherine J. O’Malley, Madeline M. Schwarz, Jaime A. Tomko, Reagan C. Walker, Mengying Xia, Matthe... (11/17/2020)

Rapid 3D Enhanced Resolution Microscopy Reveals Diversity in Dendritic Spinule Dynamics, Regulation, and Function 

Rapid 3D Enhanced Resolution Microscopy Reveals Diversity in Dendritic Spinule Dynamics, Regulation, and Function

Colleen R. Zaccard, Lauren Shapiro, Maria D. Martin-de-Saavedra, Christopher Pratt, Kristoffer Myczek, Amy Song, Marc P. Forrest, Peter Penzes Dendritic spinules are thin protrusions, formed by neuronal spines, not adequately resolved by diffraction-limited light microscopy, which has limit... (11/17/2020)
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Prevalence and correlates of prep awareness and use among black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in the United States 

Prevalence and correlates of prep awareness and use among black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in the United States

AIDS AND BEHAVIOR - Friedman, MR, Sang, JM, Bukowski, LA, Chandler, CJ, Egan, JE, Eaton, LA, Matthews, DD, Ho, K, Raymond, HF, & Stall, R. found that PrEP awareness campaigns tailored for black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW), concomitant with STI-to-PrEP interventions, will facilitate g... (10/14/2019)
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Contrasting roles of the PD-1 signaling pathway in dendritic cell-mediated induction and regulation of HIV-1-specific effector T cell functions 

Contrasting roles of the PD-1 signaling pathway in dendritic cell-mediated induction and regulation of HIV-1-specific effector T cell functions

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY - Using samples from participants in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort study, Garcia-Bates, Palma, Shen, Gambotto, Macatangay, Ferris, Rinaldo, and Mailliard showed that PD-1 activation plays a positive role in initiating the primary T cell response. But later blocking of that pathway... (12/13/2018)

Development of antibody biomarkers of long term and recent dengue virus infections 

Development of antibody biomarkers of long term and recent dengue virus infections

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGICAL METHODS - BURKE, MARQUES, and colleagues discuss anti-dengue NS1-specific IgG and IgG3 as potential biomarkers of long-term and recent (less than 6 months) DENV infections, respectively.  (06/14/2018)

Tradition and innovation in development of a Zika vaccine 

Tradition and innovation in development of a Zika vaccine

THE LANCET - MARQUES and BURKE comment about two Zika vaccines in clinical development and describe the challenges ahead. (06/14/2018)