Structure of COVID-19 virus hints at key to high infection rate

Gary Whittaker, professor of virology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is senior author of “Phylogenetic Analysis and Structural Modeling of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Reveals an Evolutionary Distinct and Proteolytically Sensitive Activation Loop,” which published April 19 in the Journal of Molecular Biology. The study of the structure of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, reveals a unique feature that could explain why it is so transmissible between people.

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Enzyme could hold key to improved allergy treatments

A class of immune cells push themselves into an inflammatory state by producing large quantities of a serotonin-making enzyme, according to a study in mice led by member scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine. The study, published March 10 in Immunity, found that the inflammatory and infection-fighting abilities of the cells, called type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), are much impaired without the enzyme. The finding suggests possibilities for new treatments targeting ILC2s, which have been linked to asthma and other allergic disorders, to suppress their activation in inflammatory disorders.

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Dr. Deborah Fowell appointed next Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology

In October, Dr. Deborah Fowell will join the college community as the next Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dr. Fowell will join the Executive Committee of the Cornell Center for Immunology.

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OVPR announces SARS-CoV-2 Seed Grant Request for Applications

The current COVID-19 pandemic crisis relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus requires research institutions such as Cornell to play a leading role in finding effective solutions to understanding the fundamental biology of this virus, combating the disease and reducing the burden on our medical (and other) establishments. To this end, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the Center for Vertebrate Genomics, the Center for Immunology, and the Office of Academic Integration have joined forces to provide seed funding to invest in innovative research ideas that address this critical global need. The intent of this program is to generate preliminary data for future applications for extramural support.

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Canceled conference leads to popular webinar series

A free weekly research webinar series organized by a Cornell faculty member has more than 1,000 viewers – with more expected – and is quenching a thirst for science and interaction felt by researchers around the world. From early April through mid-July, the Cornell-sponsored webinar series, “Meiosis in Quarantine,” will take place every Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT on topics related to meiosis, the division of sex cells that eventually differentiate into every cell type in sexually-reproducing organisms.

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Immune cells heal the intestine by controlling iron

An iron-regulating molecule called hepcidin is produced by the immune system and restricts the growth of gut bacteria after an intestinal injury, helping to heal the lining of the intestine, according to a study by Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian and Institut Cochin investigators. The study, published April 10 in Science, was conducted in mice and human samples and could have important implications for treating gastrointestinal diseases that damage the lining of the intestines.

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Researchers seek universal treatments to impede coronavirus

New research from a team of Cornell collaborators points to a possible target for antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Their review paper, “Coronavirus Membrane Fusion Mechanism Offers a Potential Target for Antiviral Development,” published April 6 in Antiviral Research. The multidisciplinary group was led by Susan Daniel, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Gary Whittaker, professor of virology at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Cell-free biotech could drive COVID-19 therapeutics

A biomanufacturing company spun out of Cornell research is seeking to rapidly translate an antibody therapy against COVID-19 by using cell-free biotechnology based on glycoengineered bacteria. And it could scale up the production 10 times faster than conventional methods. The company, SwiftScale Biologics, was co-founded by Center member Matt DeLisa.

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Campus community donates essential medical supplies

As hospitals across the country try to manage a surge in coronavirus patients while also facing a global shortage in the protective gear needed to treat them, the Cornell community has banded together to donate crucial medical supplies to local health care providers.

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