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Archive - Mar 9, 2020

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Human Protein (LY6E) Can Potently Inhibit Corona Virus in Animal Model, UTSW Med Center Researchers & International Collaborators Report in Non-Peer-Reviewed Publication

A protein produced by the human immune system can potently inhibit several coronaviruses, including the one behind the current COVID-19 outbreak, an international team of investigators reported in a non-peer-reviewed article on March 8, 2020. The research reveals that the interferon-inducible lymphocyte antigen 6 complex, locus E protein (LY6E) impairs the coronavirus’ ability to initiate infection, which could lead to treatments for the illness. Mechanistic studies revealed that LY6E inhibits CoV entry into cells by interfering with spike protein-mediated membrane fusion. Strikingly, mice lacking Ly6e (the mouse version of the gene) were highly susceptible to a usually nonlethal mouse coronavirus, the researchers reported on March 8, 2020 in bioRxiv, an online preprint server that posts articles prior to peer review. The bioRxiv open-access article is titled “LY6E Impairs Coronavirus Fusion and Confers Immune Control of Viral Disease.” (Editor’s note: It should be emphasized that bioRxiv is receiving many new papers on coronavirus 2019-nCoV. A reminder: these are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. bioRxiv emphasizes that these articles should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information). “Remarkably, this potent inhibitory effect carried over to all the coronaviruses we tested, including those responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2003, the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in 2012, and the recently emerged causative agent of COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2,” says John Schoggins, PhD, an Associate Professor of Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and one of three corresponding authors on the report.

“Primitive” Stem Cells Shown to Regenerate Blood Vessels in the Eye; Johns Hopkins Advance Offers Hope of Ultimately Reversing Diabetic Retinopathy

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have successfully turned back the biological hands of time, coaxing adult human cells in the laboratory to revert to a primitive state, and unlocking their potential to replace and repair damage to blood vessels in the retina caused by diabetes. The findings from this experimental study, they say, advance regenerative medicine techniques aimed at reversing the course of diabetic retinopathy and other blinding eye diseases. "Our study results bring us a step closer to using stem cells more widely in regenerative medicine, without the historical problems our field has encountered in getting such cells to differentiate and avoid becoming cancerous," says Elias Zambidis, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and a member of Johns Hopkins' Institute for Cell Engineering. Results of experiments using human cells and mice were published online on March 5, 2020 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “Vascular Progenitors Generated from Tankyrase Inhibitor-Regulated Naïve Diabetic Human iPSC Potentiate Efficient Revascularization of Ischemic Retina.” According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults. By 2050, researchers estimate that some 14.6 million Americans will have the condition, which results in abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, where light is processed into vision. For the study, the scientists began their experiments with a fibroblast -- a connective tissue cell -- taken from a person with type 1 diabetes. Reprogrammed fibroblasts function as "stem" cells, with the potential to give rise to all tissues in the body, including blood vessels.