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New research reveals environmental pollutant in drinking water is more dangerous than previously understood

May. 29, 2020—by Marissa Shapiro May. 26, 2020, 11:38 AM Vanderbilt researchers have discovered that perchlorate, an environmental pollutant found in many sources of drinking water in the U.S., inhibits the uptake of iodide, an essential component of thyroid hormones, in a more pronounced and fundamental way than commonly considered. This discovery was published May 25 in...

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Jonathan Irish applies AI analysis tool to understand the inner-workings of COVID-19

May. 29, 2020—by Marissa Shapiro May. 29, 2020, 12:00 PM A complex artificial intelligence-powered analysis is being deployed by Jonathan Irish, associate professor of cell and developmental biology and scientific director of the Cancer & Immunology Core, in the race to understand the inner-workings of COVID-19. The tool parses through vast quantities of data to identify extremely...

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Probing innate immunity

May. 21, 2020—May. 19, 2020, 8:00 AM by Leigh MacMillan The protein cGAS plays an essential role in cellular innate immunity by detecting the DNA of invading pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, or our own damaged and mislocalized DNA. Activation of the cGAS-STING signaling pathway produces a pro-inflammatory immune response, and prolonged activation of cGAS can result in lupus-like autoimmune disorders.  Manuel Ascano, PhD,...

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Antibodies eye Pacific Island “fever”

May. 15, 2020—May. 14, 2020, 2:30 PM by Bill Snyder Ross River fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease endemic to Australia and surrounding Pacific Islands. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Ross River virus (RRV) infection, which causes rash, fever and debilitating muscle and joint pain lasting three to six months. James Crowe Jr., MD, and colleagues...

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The adaptable anthrax bacterium

May. 15, 2020—May. 14, 2020, 2:00 PM by Leigh MacMillan The bacterium Bacillus anthracis — the cause of the serious infectious disease anthrax — has been used as a bioterror agent. Understanding how B. anthracis adapts to hostile environments to cause infection may identify new targets for treatment.  Eric Skaar, PhD, and colleagues studied the response of B. anthracis to targocil, an antimicrobial compound that damages the...

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Sealy to retire, named emerita faculty

May. 8, 2020—Linda Sealy, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, recently announced her retirement. On May 8, 2020, Vanderbilt University bestowed on Dr. Sealy the title of emerita faculty.   Sealy Retirement Announcement 7 May 2020 Dear Colleagues, I am writing to share the news that Linda Sealy,...

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New method captures early viral-host protein interactions

May. 7, 2020—May. 7, 2020, 10:43 AM   by Bill Snyder More than 70% of all viruses known to cause human disease, including the one that causes COVID-19, are RNA viruses. They invade the body by hijacking the internal machinery of cells. Yet little is known about how viral RNA commandeers host proteins to replicate the virus....

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A dual-purpose metabolic switch

May. 7, 2020—May. 5, 2020, 8:00 AM by Leigh MacMillan Compounds called inositol diphosphates are cellular signaling “codes” involved in multiple processes ranging from phosphate sensing to DNA metabolism.  John York, PhD, and colleagues have demonstrated that the evolutionarily conserved gene product Vip1 is capable of both synthesizing and destroying inositol diphosphates. The researchers showed that Vip1...

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Antibody finding raises hopes for Marburg, COVID-19 treatments

May. 7, 2020—Apr. 30, 2020, 10:00 AM by Bill Snyder Marburg is a distant, more lethal cousin of the RNA virus that causes COVID-19. An outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Angola in 2004-2005 killed 90% of the approximately 250 people it infected.  Now researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and Vanderbilt University...

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Regulating protein synthesis genes

May. 6, 2020—  By Suneethi Sivakumaran The human body is a complicated network of interdependent cellular processes regulated by gene-encoded proteins. Proteins maintain these processes by exerting diverse functions in different cells. Although the function of many proteins is consistent between cell types, sometimes, one protein will “moonlight” by carrying out different physiological functions in different cells....

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