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What we need to worry about with avian flu—and what we don’t 

...You’d hope after the COVID pandemic that there’d be much more surveillance and screening. Instead, we have significant gaps in information. However, scientists are doing whatever they can. They’ve analyzed the sequence of the virus and calculated when this flu jumped from birds into cow...

Innovative approach opens the door to COVID nanobody therapies

COVID is not yet under control. Despite a bevy of vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and antivirals, the virus continues to mutate and elude us. One solution that scientists have been exploring since the early days of the pandemic may come in the form of tiny antibodies derived from llamas, ...

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Boosters are key to protecting pregnant individuals and newborns against the worst effects of COVID

...But how long does this protection last? A new study from The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), published in Nature Communications, found that patients with a specific cocktail of COVID exposure—vaccination, up-to-date boosters, and previous infection—had the highe...

How antibodies from llamas may lead to COVID-19 treatment

...Nanobodies could become one more weapon in our arsenal against COVID-19, and potentially a widely available one.” In order to get there, Rout, Chait and their colleagues are now extracting antibodies from llamas and examining their molecular properties to identify those most effective a...

As COVID-19 vaccines emerge, the search for antiviral drugs continues

Highly promising vaccines have recently emerged for COVID-19, but this doesn’t mean research into other treatments can slow down. There is still no cure for the disease, and people will likely continue to get sick even after vaccines become widely available—by not getting their COVID

Rogue enzymes cause numerous diseases. A new method could help design drugs to treat them.

...The paper, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, describes how researchers used this innovative new platform to design molecules that take aim at helicases involved in COVID and certain cancers. "High-resolution structural and biochemical data alone are not sufficie...

Homing in on the genetics of severe COVID in children

One of the most terrifying aspects of the COVID pandemic has been its unpredictably severe impact on some children. While most infected kids have few or no symptoms, one in 10,000 fall suddenly and dramatically ill about a month after a mild infection, landing in the hospital with inflamed...

Intriguing science discoveries of 2022

For the past three years, the COVID pandemic altered virtually every aspect of our lives. But we’ve been in a transitional phase in 2022, shifting towards the new normal. Science at Rockefeller has been in transition, too. Deeper insights into the nuances of COVID infection emerged,...

Waddling water bears, grandmother neurons, and other memorable science stories of 2021

...Basic biomedical research went on, unabated, through the second year of New York City's touch-and-go battle with COVID. Investigations into the nature of the novel coronavirus and its intractable variants intensified, demanding the attention of more than 25 Rockefeller laboratories, all...

A third vaccine dose may increase protection from Omicron

The mRNA vaccines used against COVID were never designed to battle the Omicron variant, a now dominant strain of the coronavirus that recently claimed 18,000 lives in a single week. Yet individuals who receive their third dose appear to be protected from the worst of Omicron, and a new stu...

How antibody therapy impacts COVID vaccines

...The findings suggest that feedback inhibition increases the coverage provided by COVID vaccines in people who previously received monoclonal antibodies. "Depending on the virus, feedback inhibition can either enhance immunity or inhibit it," says Michel C. Nussenzweig, who co-led the st...

Llama antibodies could help fight SARS-CoV-2 variants

Amid the growing threat of a new and potentially more dangerous SARS-CoV-2 variant, scientists are ramping up the quest for COVID treatments. A recent study demonstrates the therapeutic potential of an unusual class of immune proteins: miniature antibodies called nanobodies, derived from l...

Lonely flies, like many humans, eat more and sleep less

COVID-19 lockdowns scrambled sleep schedules and stretched waistlines. One culprit may be social isolation itself. Scientists have found that lone fruit flies quarantined in test tubes sleep too little and eat too much after only about one week of social isolation, according to a new study...

Common mutation linked to COVID mortality

It may be the most baffling quirk of COVID: What manifests as minor, flu-like symptoms in some individuals spirals into severe disease, disability, or even death in others. New research published in Nature may explain the genetic underpinnings of this dichotomy.  The researchers demonstrat...

Amid the rush for COVID-19 drugs, a case for the helicase

...Around the world, researchers working on developing treatments for COVID-19 are intensively examining each step of this process. Among them is Rockefeller’s Pels Family Professor Tarun Kapoor, whose lab has turned its expertise on stopping propagation of cancer cells to the virus, focus...

New design may boost potency of monoclonal antibodies against COVID

Monoclonal antibody drugs are among the few treatments available for COVID, providing a lifeline for those at high risk of severe illness and hospitalization. However, the usefulness of these drugs is limited because they are effective only when they can be administered early in the diseas...

Intriguing science discoveries of 2023

...Efforts to combat COVID, Hepatitis B, and other infections bore fruit, and countless papers shed light on basic research, answering questions that have long baffled biologists. Here are some of the intriguing discoveries that came out of Rockefeller in 2023. Old sperm, new mutations As ...

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The common thread in severe COVID-19 

Patients who suffer from severe COVID-19 tend to have one thing in common: insufficient or defective proteins that help regulate the immune system, known as type I interferons (IFNs).   Two papers from the laboratory of Jean-Laurent Casanova previously demonstrated that at least 10 percent...

The blood may hold clues to some of COVID-19’s most mysterious symptoms

The most severe cases of COVID-19 begin with leaky blood vessels. Breaches in the vascular system cause inflammation and coagulation, as fluid floods the lungs. Meanwhile, a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms set in. Blood pressure drops, arrhythmias test the heart, and the central nervo...

Mathematical modeling suggests counties are still unprepared for COVID spikes

...A new paper in PNAS suggests there may have been a mathematical method, of sorts, to the madness of those early COVID days. The study tests a model that closely matches the patterns of case counts and deaths reported, county by county, across the United States between April 2020 and Jun...

"Exhausted" immune cells may drive Alzheimer's

...Prior work from the Tavazoie lab has demonstrated that these variants can play pivotal roles in how the body responds to diseases from cancer to COVID, but the link between Alzheimer's disease and APOE4 is particularly well-established: the APOE4 variant, carried by about 20 percent of ...

Lab-grown mini lungs could accelerate the study of respiratory diseases  

...Our understanding of how infectious diseases like COVID affect human lungs has been similarly confounded by noise. Data from patient lung tissues greatly varies from person to person, obscuring the basic mechanisms of how, exactly, SARS-Co-V2 first infects lung cells. It’s also an after...

Natural infection versus vaccination: Differences in COVID antibody responses emerge

...Hope for a future without fear of COVID-19 comes down to circulating antibodies and memory B cells. Unlike circulating antibodies, which peak soon after vaccination or infection only to fade a few months later, memory B cells can stick around to prevent severe disease for decades. And t...

COVID-19 immunology study reveals universally effective antibodies

...A study of 149 people who have recovered from COVID-19 shows that although the amount of antibodies they generated varies widely, most individuals had generated at least some that were intrinsically capable of neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The findings are published June 18 in the ...

Rockefeller saliva test for COVID-19 outperforms commercial swab tests

In the early days of the pandemic, with commercial COVID tests in short supply, Rockefeller’s Robert B. Darnell developed an in-house assay to identify positive cases within the Rockefeller community. It turned out to be easier and safer to administer than the tests available at the time, ...

Researchers reveal an ancient mechanism for wound repair

...In recent studies, elevated IL24 activity has been spotted in epithelial lung tissue of patients with severe COVID-19 and in colonic tissue in patients with ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. “IL24 could be working as a cue to signal the need for injury repair in ...

An immune flaw may cause West Nile virus’s deadliest symptoms

...West Nile virus now joins a small but important group of infectious diseases with a documented link between interferon-neutralizing autoantibodies and cases resulting in the most severe or deadly symptoms, including influenza (5%), COVID (15%), and MERS pneumonia (25%). But with 40% of ...

COVID-19 vaccines may need regular updates for emerging variants

...Soon after the world’s first COVID-19 vaccination campaigns kicked off, news emerged about new, more contagious SARS-CoV-2 variants crisscrossing the planet. The discovery of such strains in Britain, Brazil, and South Africa has raised a pressing concern: Will current vaccines be effect...

A unique window into "original antigenic sin"

...Scientists call this original antigenic sin (OAS)—the body's first blush with a virus like influenza or COVID being the "original sin" that forever biases its immune response against newer strains. According to the OAS theory, no matter how many flu vaccines or COVID boosters we ...

Unlocking how the new Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab works

...The dysregulation of the contact system is involved in COVID, sickle cell anemia, hereditary angioedema, inflammatory bowel disease, sepsis, lupus, arthritis, and even cancer metastasis,” she says.

Rockefeller scientists launch a broad range of studies into novel coronavirus

Rockefeller University experts in infectious disease, immunology, biochemistry, structural biology, and genetics have begun over a dozen projects in recent weeks aimed at better understanding the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is responsible for the current global COVID-19 pandemic...

Rockefeller begins testing of new COVID-19 antibody drug in people

With green light from the FDA, Rockefeller scientists started human trials this week for a new monoclonal antibody drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies are mass-produced replicas of natural antibodies made by the immune system to fight viruses. Designed to prev...

Study of “breakthrough” cases suggests COVID testing may be here to stay

In rare cases, people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID and are immune to the virus can nevertheless develop the disease. New findings from The Rockefeller University now suggest that these so-called breakthrough cases may be driven by rapid evolution of the virus, and that ongo...

Rockefeller scientists investigate life-threatening inflammation affecting children with COVID-19

...As part of an international study of genetic causes behind severe COVID-19 in young people, Casanova and collaborators have been enrolling these unusual cases since early March, when they were first reported by European doctors. Collaborating with the New York Genome Center and the stat...

What bats can teach us about COVID-19

...But at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he diverted his expertise and applied the same methods to instead to see if they could crack the mystery of bats’ exceptional immunity to coronavirus. His group began by sequencing the genome of the horseshoe bat, thought to be the initial hos...

The immune system mounts a lasting defense after recovery from COVID-19

As the number of people who have fought off SARS-CoV-2 climbs ever higher, a critical question has grown in importance: How long will their immunity to the novel coronavirus last? A new Rockefeller study offers an encouraging answer, suggesting that those who recover from COVID-19 are prot...

Rockefeller grants commercial license for the development of monoclonal antibodies for treatment of COVID-19

With promising results from preclinical studies and with human trials now underway, Rockefeller has taken the next step with its novel COVID-19 treatment. The university has entered a licensing agreement with a global pharmaceutical company to advance development of a drug based on two mon...

Scientists trace severe COVID-19 to faulty genes and autoimmune condition

More than 10 percent of people who develop severe COVID-19 have misguided antibodies that attack not the virus, but the immune system itself, new research shows. Another 3.5 percent, at least, carry a specific kind of genetic mutation. In both groups, the upshot is basically the same: The ...

Synthetic “micro lungs” could take COVID-19 research to the next level

...Research aimed to understand how COVID-19 wreaks havoc in the lungs, for example, has often been done with miscellaneous lung cancer cells that show crucial differences with the cells targeted by the virus. “There has been too much shifting ground for precise work,” says Ali H. Brivanlo...

The gene hunt to explain why some young, healthy people die from COVID-19

...Casanova, along with Helen Su at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are leading an international project, the COVID Human Genetic Effort, to comb through the genomes of many COVID-19 outliers in search of any rare gene variant that they may share, and that ...

How toothless mock viruses could advance research on COVID-19

In more ways than one, antibodies could be the key to alleviating the COVID-19 crisis.  Hundreds of labs around the world are studying the antibodies people produce in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection in hopes of developing treatments, predicting the efficacy of vaccines, and understanding...

New evidence that boosters may be crucial in protecting against Omicron

As the world faces an impending wave of COVID cases due to Omicron, scientists are racing to assess vaccine efficacy against the new variant. In a new study, Rockefeller scientists report on their comprehensive analysis of Omicron’s resistance to antibodies, offering insights about the lev...

Scientists are using ‘elite’ antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to develop potent therapies

In the few weeks since New York City came to a socially distanced halt, more than 250 COVID-19 survivors have visited Rockefeller’s otherwise quiet campus to contribute their blood to science. Here, a group of immunologists, medical scientists, and virologists is betting that a cure for th...

The genetic underpinnings of severe staph infections

...This finding was particularly surprising because, until then, specific defects in cell intrinsic immunity had only been linked to a predisposition to some viral infections, from Covid to herpes to encephalitis. It had never been shown to play a role in bacterial disease. "This is the fi...

How the body's B cell academy ensures a diverse immune response

...The findings shed new light on how the immune system mounts a response against infections such as COVID and HIV. "Germinal centers are open structures that continuously receive B cells," says Michel C. Nussenzweig, the Zanvil A. Cohn and Ralph M. Steinman Professor at Rockefeller. "As t...

Hundreds of new drug targets to combat tuberculosis

...COVID-19 among infectious diseases.  Now, a new study in Nature Microbiology maps the methods by which Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria shrug off antibiotics, revealing hundreds of drug targets that could strip this pathogen of its notorious resis...

Could future coronavirus variants fully dodge our immune system?

...Immunity in people who fought off COVID last year and later received mRNA vaccines is impressively broad,” says Paul Bieniasz, head of the Laboratory of Retrovirology at Rockefeller. “This tells us that although natural infection or the vaccines lead to immunity, they have in no way com...

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Vaccines charge up natural immunity against SARS-CoV-2

According to new research, people who have had COVID enjoy strong immunity against the coronavirus for at least a year after they were initially infected. In analyzing antibodies present in the blood of COVID patients, Rockefeller scientists were able to track the evolution of these...

A never-before-seen image of the coronavirus copy machine

...In fact, some existing antivirals, as well as several new candidates under investigation specifically for COVID-19 act on RdRp—including remdesivir, which is currently being used in several countries for treatment of severe cases. These antiviral drugs try to lodge into nooks and cranni...

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Scientists uncover antiviral protein that blocks coronavirus infection

...Now, a study identifies a protein that blocks infection by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, along with several other types. The protein, known as LY6E, stops the virus from fusing with host cells. Researchers in the lab of Rockefeller’s Charles M. Rice, along with colla...

Llamas immune to coronavirus, what zebrafish are thinking, and other memorable science stories of 2020 

COVID-19 dominated scientific research this past year, with good reason. When the worst pandemic of the century struck, scientists from all disciplines banded together to fend off a virus that will have claimed at least 1.6 million lives by the new year. But basic science did not come to a...

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Missing immune molecule may explain why some HPV patients sprout giant horn-like growths

...The findings play into the larger body of Casanova’s work, which continues to demonstrate that the severity of  influenza, tuberculosis, COVID-19, and other diseases, is not solely dependent on the pathogen itself, but on genetics of the host, too.

Will SARS-CoV-2 escape future drugs by mutating? The answer may be a nuanced “no.”

...Rice, is developing so-called monoclonal antibody treatments in which a potent antibody is identified and mass-produced to be used as medication for COVID-19. To better understand if such interventions will remain effective over time, they examined viral mutation patterns using a stand-...

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How one patient’s rare mutation helped solve a mycobacterial mystery

...Increasingly, scientists have shown that genetics play a central role in determining whether the pathogens that cause a wide range of disease—including influenza, warts, and COVID-19—end up causing serious diseases. The lab of Jean-Laurent Casanova, which has spent 25 years studying the...

Financial crashes, pandemics, Texas snow: How math could predict "black swan" events

What if mathematicians could have seen COVID-19 coming, or could predict the next outbreak? Is it possible that numbers, manipulated by statistics, might warn of future market fluctuations and environmental disasters, or herald vast shifts in finance, trade, and employment? It’s hard to pr...

Scientists release error-free genomes of 25 animals—with another 70,000 coming up

...Armed with the new data, scientists are now studying genes that render bats immune to COVID-19 and questioning long-standing conventions in basic science, such as whether there are meaningful differences between oxytocin and its receptors found in humans, birds, reptiles, and fish. All ...

Scientists map the network of SARS-CoV-2’s helpers inside human cells

...Altogether, this catalogue is a rich resource to for exploring new drug targets for COVID-19 and potential future coronavirus outbreaks.” Surprise protein The genome-wide study also revealed that coronaviruses rely on several proteins whose functions are not fully understood. Among them...