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From the College of Natural Sciences
Breakthrough in Fight on Tick-Borne CCHF Virus is Latest Use of New Strategy Against Diseases

Breakthrough in Fight on Tick-Borne CCHF Virus is Latest Use of New Strategy Against Diseases

A 3D atomic map, or structure, of the Gc protein (red and yellow) bound to two antibodies (green, blue and white) produced by a recovered patient. The Gc protein is a key molecule on the surface of the CCHF virus enabling it to infect cells. Credit: Akaash Mishra/University of Texas at Austin

Using the same approach they recently used to create effective vaccine candidates against COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), scientists are tackling another virus: the tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). It causes death in up to 40% of cases, and the World Health Organization identified the disease as one of its top priorities for research and development. The results appear today in the journal Science.

Innovative Cancer Research Bolstered by Grants from CPRIT

Innovative Cancer Research Bolstered by Grants from CPRIT

A slice through a cluster of about 20 human cells with mitochondria highlighted as green and red dots. Image courtesy of Lulu Cambronne/University of Texas at Austin.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently awarded grants to six faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin, including Xioalu "Lulu" Cambronne in the Department of Molecular Biosciences. The funding will support ongoing, innovative cancer research at UT Austin and enable advances in immunotherapy, drug development and cancer prevention efforts.

As Cryo-EM Capabilities Expand, Cool Science at UT Gets a Boost

As Cryo-EM Capabilities Expand, Cool Science at UT Gets a Boost

David Taylor with the Glacios cryo-EM. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Imagine biological and chemical imaging tools so advanced that they are able to show the molecular details of a virus as it attaches to and enters cells, or the alignment of vanishingly tiny crystals at an atomic level so as to lend insights for new solar energy technology.

Simulation Reveals How a SARS-CoV-2 ‘Gate’ Opens to Allow COVID Infection

Simulation Reveals How a SARS-CoV-2 ‘Gate’ Opens to Allow COVID Infection

Despite more than a year and a half of research, there are still many unknowns about how the virus that causes COVID-19 infects human cells. A deeper understanding could lead to new treatment approaches.

Bacterial Warfare Provides New Antibiotic Target

Bacterial Warfare Provides New Antibiotic Target

Pseudomonas bacteria use a kind of harpoon to attack nearby bacteria, injecting them with a toxin that targets a critical molecular machine called the transamidosome complex. Credit: Despoina Mavridou/University of Texas at Austin.

Antibiotic resistance, where disease-causing bacteria evolve resistance to drugs that usually kill them, is a rising problem globally, meaning new antibiotics need to be found. However, it is difficult for researchers to know which parts of bacterial cells to target with new drugs.

Unlocking Secrets of Some of the World’s Smallest Viruses

Unlocking Secrets of Some of the World’s Smallest Viruses

A typical flu virus is so small that a thousand of them could fit in the width of a human hair.

Jason McLellan Named Texas Inventor of the Year

Jason McLellan Named Texas Inventor of the Year

Jason McLellan, a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, has been selected as the Texas Inventor of the Year for his role in biomedical research linked to the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The award is given annually by the State Bar of Texas's Intellectual Property Section in recognition of an individual whose invention "has significantly impacted the Texas economy."

New Insights Could Lead to Crops Adapted to a Warming World

New Insights Could Lead to Crops Adapted to a Warming World

Pairs of seedlings show the difference in growth patterns for plants living in 22°C (left one in each pair) versus 28°C (right). Pairs of seedlings are shown for each day, from 2 to 7 days.

When air temperatures rise, plants tend to grow differently: they grow taller, their roots grow deeper, they bloom earlier and pores in their leaves get fewer. By helping them stay cooler and retain more water, these changes might enable them to adapt to our rapidly warming world. But there's a big downside for us humans. When it's hotter, crop plants that we depend on tend to have a lower yield.

Carlos Baiz and Shelley Payne Earn Prestigious Teaching Awards

Carlos Baiz and Shelley Payne Earn Prestigious Teaching Awards

Two College of Natural Sciences faculty members were named the winners of prestigious national and state teaching awards this spring.

Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies

Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies

An analysis of blood plasma samples from people who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections shows that most of the antibodies circulating in the blood -- on average, about 84% -- target areas of the viral spike protein outside the receptor binding domain (RBD, green), including the N-terminal Domain (NTD, blue) and the S2 subunit (red, yellow). Illustration credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The most complete picture yet is coming into focus of how antibodies produced in people who effectively fight off SARS-CoV-2 work to neutralize the part of the virus responsible for causing infection. In the journal Science, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin describe the finding, which represents good news for designing the next generation of vaccines to protect against variants of the virus or future emerging coronaviruses.

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19

Drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures, according to new study. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/University of Texas at Austin.

Remdesivir is currently the only antiviral drug approved in the U.S. for treating COVID-19 patients. In a paper published this week in Cell Reports, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai showed that four drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures.

Human Trials Begin for a Low-Cost COVID-19 Vaccine to Extend Global Access

Human Trials Begin for a Low-Cost COVID-19 Vaccine to Extend Global Access

Clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate NDV-HXP-S, which includes a key protein developed at the University of Texas at Austin, began in Thailand in March 2021. Photo courtesy of Thailand’s Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO).

In a major boost to efforts to combat COVID-19 globally, a vaccine that recently entered human trials in Vietnam and Thailand, and is slated for a clinical study in Brazil, holds promise for affordable vaccine manufacturing in countries currently dependent on imported vaccines. The vaccine is the result of a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and global partners interested in advancing the supply of affordable vaccines to address the pandemic.

Accurately Editing Genes in Living Cells Means Grappling with Knots in DNA

Accurately Editing Genes in Living Cells Means Grappling with Knots in DNA

Gene editing with CRISPR enzymes inside living cells could become more effective and accurate after researchers at The University of Texas at Austin unveiled how inner workings can help or hinder the process.

Finkelstein Receives Welch Foundation’s Norman Hackerman Award

Finkelstein Receives Welch Foundation’s Norman Hackerman Award

The Welch Foundation today announced that Ilya J. Finkelstein, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin who has been researching the coronavirus and the gene-editing tool CRISPR, will receive the 2021 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. Having already made significant scientific contributions in chemistry and biochemistry, he is being recognized as a rising star in his field.

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

​​Four faculty members from the University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences have received 2021 Sloan Research Fellowships, which honor outstanding early-career scientists in eight fields.