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April 27, 2020

Mayo Clinic Research in the news: Week in review 4/27/2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

Last week, much like the previous, was full of news related to COVID-19. Mayo Clinic Research and researchers played a prominent role in the discussion. Collected here are links and snippets from some of the stories from around the world. They connect Mayo Clinic research and international efforts to understand and reduce the devastating effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19.

Special Report: Countries, Companies Risk Billions in Race for Coronavirus Vaccine 

By Julie Steenhuysen, Peter Eisler, Allison Martell, Stephanie Nebehay; Reuters, 4/25/2020

…The Swiss vaccine employs virus-like particles to provoke an immune response, an approach that theoretically is considered safer because it does not directly expose people to the actual coronavirus. So far, it has only been tested in mice. Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is among those worried about the risks of injecting a large group of people with a vaccine that has only been through minimal testing in humans. "I don’t see how this is possible,” he told Reuters, referring to Inselspital’s plan. 


Unsolved issues and huge investments in COVID vaccine manufacturing 

By Dr. Tiffany Kung, ABC News, 4/25/2020

…"Past vaccine efforts have been more limited on the patient uptake side than on the supply side. Some people are resistant to flu vaccines," Dr. Andrew Badley, chair of the Mayo Clinic Covid Research Task Force, said to ABC News. "With this global scare, I’m hopeful that vaccine uptake will be better. I hope that people learn that vaccines for other infectious diseases are beneficial, too. And I hope that in the coming years, more people will opt to take those vaccines as well," Badley said.


New Research Claims That AI Can Zero In On COVID-19 Symptoms

By Rohit Chatterjee, Analytics India Magazine, 4/24/2020

… "What is worse, some experts claim that many positive COVID-19 cases may be asymptomatic in nature. If some people do not exhibit symptoms, how can one know if they are infected? In a recent paper published by Mayo Clinic and a startup called Nference, researchers claim that AI can zero in on symptoms that can indicate if a person is actually suffering from the disease.


Three Ways to Make Coronavirus Drugs in a Hurry

With no time to make treatments from scratch, researchers search for existing compounds that deflect harm

By Michael Waldholz, Scientific American, 4/23/2020

… Several medical centers, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Mayo Clinic, are harvesting blood plasma from survivors and screening it for antibodies. In a technique known as convalescent therapy, doctors then transfuse it into hospitalized patients with life-threatening acute respiratory distress. Early studies of a few such patients suggest the approach may work—some patients’ symptoms improved, and levels of the virus in their bodies dropped—but the work is very preliminary.


What Is Contact Tracing? Here's How It Could Be Used to Help Fight Coronavirus 

By Alejandro de la Garza, Time, 4/22/2020

… The technique is a “cornerstone” of preventative medicine, says Dr. Laura Breeher, medical director of occupational health services at the Mayo Clinic. “Contact tracing, it’s having a moment of glory right now with COVID because of the crucial importance of identifying those individuals who have been exposed quickly and isolating or quarantining them,” she says.


COVID-19 antibody test plays big role in learning more about the disease 

By Elizabeth Ruiz, Arizona ABC 15, 4/21/2020

Dr. Elitza Theel is the Laboratory Director for the Infectious Diseases Serology Lab at the Mayo Clinic , which is one of many medical centers across the U.S. that has started to roll out a COVID-19 antibody test. “It’s a new virus, it’s a fairly new test for the virus, so there’s a lot to learn,” Dr. Theel said. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Dr. Theel says antibodies are produced by our immune system in response to an infection. “I guess you can think of them as small molecules or proteins – so these antibodies that our immune system produces will bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and they will basically inactivate and kill it,” Dr. Theel said.


Deadly for some, mild for others, a Mayo doc explains why 

By Matthew Stolle, Post Bulletin, 4/21/2020

It's like a viral public health message but with nasty consequences. For some people, the COVID-19 infection has revealed itself as little more than a slight cough. For others, especially those with underlying health issues, there's a chance of becoming severely ill or dying. Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, talked about the virus's split personality in a Q-and-A with the PB and what people with those underlying conditions can do to protect themselves.


Coronavirus is causing hives and 4 other skin reactions — here’s what dermatologists warn you to look for 

By Abby Haglage, Yahoo! Lifestyle, 4/21/2020

“What I would want to emphasize is that there are multiple skin reactions at this point of COVID-19 infection,” Dawn Davis, MD, chair of the clinical dermatology division at the Mayo Clinic tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that it’s unclear whether multiple rashes can appear at once. Davis says individuals should be aware of these rashes “even if they have no other symptoms consistent with COVID-19” and should contact their primary care provider to determine whether an evaluation is needed. Here, Davis unpacks the newest potential signs of the virus and how to spot them early on.


Hundreds Receive Plasma From Recovered Coronavirus Patients in National Study 

By Amy Dockser Marcus, Wall Street Journal, 4/20/20

“Will expanded access give us the same data as a perfect randomized, controlled trial? No,” said Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and principal investigator of the expanded-access convalescent plasma project. “Will we gain insight under unusual circumstances? Yes.”


Coronavirus: Plasma treatment to be trialled 

By Rebecca Morelle, BBC, 4/20/2020

Prof Michael Joyner, from the Mayo Clinic, is leading the work. He said: "The thing we've learned in the first week of administration is that no major safety signals have emerged and administration of the product does not appear to be causing a whole lot of unanticipated side effects. "There are anecdotal reports of oxygenation improving and other patient improvements. Those are certainly heartening, but they need to be rigorously evaluated."

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Tags: Andrew Badley, antibodies, artificial intelligence, clinical trials, COVID-19, Dawn Davis, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, dermatology, Elitza Theel, Gregory Poland, immune system, Laura Breeher, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Michael Joyner, News, plasma, Stephen Kopecky, vaccines

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