By Nancy Lapid
(Reuters) – Following is an overview of some of the latest research on the new coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
A new drug with antibodies looks promising in studies in mice
An experimental new antibody type from IGM Bioscience Inc may be more potent in inhibiting the coronavirus and its variants than the antibody therapies currently in use, studies in mice have shown. And it is easier to apply with a more direct effect on the lungs. Modern antibody drugs use so-called IgG antibodies, which are bivalent (two-armed) ̵
E-cigarettes may increase the vulnerability of the lungs to the coronavirus
Vaping has been associated with higher levels of COVID-19 in some studies. A small new study found that lung cells exposed to liquid from e-cigarettes appear more vulnerable to the protein that the coronavirus uses to penetrate cells. In experiments with test tubes, the researchers took samples of cells that line the lungs and exposed some of them to a liquid used in Juul e-cigarettes. They then exposed the cells to a harmless virus that was coated with the coronavirus protein. The researchers saw a higher rate of infections in lung cells that were treated with e-fluid compared to unexposed cells, according to a report published Sunday by bioRxiv before a peer review. Nicotine may contribute to a higher rate of infection in e-fluid-treated cells, the authors suggest, but they do not know for sure. “Our results urge us to consider vaping as a risk factor for COVID-19,” they said. (https://bit.ly/2RwWjXx)
Bots spread a lot of misinformation about COVID-19
Automated computer programs or “bots” spread a lot of COVID-19 misinformation on social media, new research confirms. Bots are easy to spot, said Dr. John Ayers of the University of California, Davis. “You’re just looking for coordinated behavior, like Facebook groups that share exactly the same content in seconds,” he said. The study analyzed 299,925 posts made in 563 Facebook groups, identifying groups that seemed particularly susceptible to bot influence. In these groups, identical connections were shared at average intervals of 4.28 seconds, compared with 4.35 hours for groups least affected by bots, researchers said Monday at JAMA Internal Medicine. They then observed publications linking to a study in which masks were found to protect against COVID-19. Where bots had the greatest impact, posts sharing the trial were 2.3 times more likely to report incorrect results and 2.5 times more likely to make conspiracy statements than those displayed in groups, least affected by bots. Instead of betting on bots, social media companies continue to assess whether individual posts contain misinformation, Ayers said. “It’s like playing Whac-A-Mole,” he said, adding that bot-generated misinformation “could undermine critical health facilities.” (https://bit.ly/3gicVui)
Open https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl in an external browser for the Reuters schedule for vaccines under development.
(Report by Nancy Lapid and Linda Carroll; Edited by Bill Bercrot)