Cornea appears to resist infection from novel coronavirus

New findings from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest the eye’s cornea can resist infection from the novel coronavirus. Although the herpes simplex virus can infect the cornea and spread to other parts of the body in patients with compromised immune systems, and Zika virus has been found in tears […]

Immune modulator drugs for COVID-19 focus of major NIH clinical trial

One of the most vexing aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the novel coronavirus’s ability to turn the body’s immune system against the body. After the virus has been cleared from the body, the immune system sometimes continues to hurtle an arsenal of immune proteins at the already vanquished virus, creating a dangerous inflammatory response […]

Role of gut viruses in inflammatory bowel disease is focus of $8.5 million grant

The communities of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts help digest food and produce vitamins, protect against pathogens, and promote the healthy functioning of our immune system. But alongside gut bacteria thrives a vast community of viruses, and we know little about their impact on health and disease.

Study provides insight on how to build a better flu vaccine

Flu season comes around like clockwork every year, and sooner or later everyone gets infected. The annual flu shot is a key part of public health efforts to control the flu, but the vaccine’s effectiveness is notoriously poor, falling somewhere from 40% to 60% in a typical year.

Study provides insight on how to build a better flu vaccine

Flu season comes around like clockwork every year, and sooner or later everyone gets infected. The annual flu shot is a key part of public health efforts to control the flu, but the vaccine’s effectiveness is notoriously poor, falling somewhere from 40% to 60% in a typical year. A growing body of evidence suggests that […]

Nasal vaccine against COVID-19 prevents infection in mice

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a vaccine that targets the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can be given in one dose via the nose and is effective in preventing infection in mice susceptible to the novel coronavirus. The investigators next plan to test the vaccine in nonhuman primates and humans to […]

Major weight loss — whether from surgery or diet — has same metabolic benefits

Gastric bypass surgery is the most effective therapy to treat or reverse type 2 diabetes in severely obese patients. Many achieve remission of diabetes following surgery and no longer require diabetes medications. This observation has led to the theory that gastric bypass surgery has unique, weight loss-independent effects in treating diabetes, but this has remained […]

Clinical trial focuses on reducing overactive immune response in COVID-19

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are investigating whether a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat rare diseases of an overactive immune system could help critically ill patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The drug blocks a specific protein of the immune system that doctors suspect contributes to […]

Experimental COVID-19 vaccine prevents severe disease in mice

An experimental vaccine is effective at preventing pneumonia in mice infected with the COVID-19 virus, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The vaccine, which is made from a mild virus genetically modified to carry a key gene from the COVID-19 virus, is described in the journal Cell Host […]

Washington University, St. Louis County collaborate on COVID-19 survey

Washington University in St. Louis, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and other collaborators are conducting a survey of St. Louis County residents and offering COVID-19 testing to gauge the prevalence of and risk factors for the illness. Working with the county, Washington University’s Institute for Public Health is teaming up with other local public health and […]

Global wildlife surveillance could provide early warning for next pandemic

The virus that causes COVID-19 probably originated in wild bats that live in caves around Wuhan, China, and may have been passed to a second animal species before infecting people, according to the World Health Organization. Many of the most devastating epidemics of recent decades – including Ebola, avian influenza and HIV/AIDS – were triggered […]

2 immunotherapies merged into single, more effective treatment

Some of the most promising advances in cancer treatment have centered on immunotherapies that rev up a patient’s immune system to attack cancer. But immunotherapies don’t work in all patients, and researchers have been searching for ways to increase their effectiveness.

Gut bacteria protect against mosquito-borne viral illness

Chikungunya virus, once confined to the Eastern Hemisphere, has infected millions of people in the Americas since 2013, when mosquitoes carrying the virus were discovered in the Caribbean. About half of all people infected with chikungunya virus never show symptoms, while some develop fever and joint pain that lasts about a week, and 10% to […]

COVID-19 vaccine trials to be conducted at Washington University, Saint Louis University

As U.S. scientists ramp up a national effort to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine candidates at clinical trial sites across the country, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development have been tapped to join the historic effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine that can prevent […]

Lab-made virus mimics COVID-19 virus

Airborne and potentially deadly, the virus that causes COVID-19 can only be studied safely under high-level biosafety conditions. Scientists handling the infectious virus must wear full-body biohazard suits with pressurized respirators, and work inside laboratories with multiple containment levels and specialized ventilation systems. While necessary to protect laboratory workers, these safety precautions slow down efforts […]

Effort to screen potential COVID-19 antiviral drugs underway

Six months into the pandemic, people diagnosed with mild cases of COVID-19 still are told to isolate themselves and wait out the infection at home. Doctors monitor such patients so they can intervene if their condition deteriorates, but no antiviral drugs have been shown to hasten recovery or forestall severe illness in people who are […]

Stroke survival rates worse in rural areas, study says

A major U.S. study reveals large gaps between urban and rural patients in quality of care received after a stroke and rates of survival. In more rural areas, the ability of hospitals to deliver advanced stroke care is lower and mortality rates substantially higher, the research shows.

COVID-19 antibody tests evaluated as diagnostic test in low-resource settings

With Brazil leading the world in newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases, Latin America has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, outbreaks continue to escalate in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Public health authorities worldwide desperately need to expand testing so they can track the spread of the infection, but molecular diagnostic […]

Oral antibiotics work, shorten hospital stays for IV drug users with infections

People who inject illicit drugs can develop potentially deadly infections of the heart, blood, joints and soft tissues. Typically, such infections require weeks of hospitalization to treat effectively. But a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that drug users who, while in the hospital, started IV antibiotics […]

Patients with COVID-19 donate specimens to advance research efforts

In the weeks before the St. Louis region saw its first patients with COVID-19, physician-scientists at Washington University School of Medicine began planning and preparing how best to collect blood and other biological samples from such patients so specimens could be quickly disseminated to researchers seeking strategies to treat, prevent and contain the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 mouse model will speed search for drugs, vaccines

The global effort to quickly develop drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 has been hampered by limited numbers of laboratory mice that are susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report they have developed a mouse model of COVID-19 that replicates the […]

Diabetes reversed in mice with genetically edited stem cells derived from patients

Using induced pluripotent stem cells produced from the skin of a patient with a rare, genetic form of insulin-dependent diabetes called Wolfram syndrome, researchers transformed the human stem cells into insulin-producing cells and used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to correct a genetic defect that had caused the syndrome. They then implanted the cells into lab mice […]

Research in most university labs moved from bench to internet

When Washington University Vice Chancellor for Research Jennifer K. Lodge first sounded the alarm about the disruptive impact COVID-19 likely would have on labs across the university, the research community heeded her warning, taking steps to shut down lab work and move as much as possible online. Those in position to do so began pivoting their research […]

COVID-19 survivors needed to donate blood plasma

Infectious diseases physicians at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed an expanded access program to give blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to critically ill patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Led by principal investigator Rachel Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine, a team of researchers began enrolling potential donors […]

Study to evaluate antidepressant as potential COVID-19 treatment

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are launching a clinical trial in patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 but who are not sick enough to be hospitalized. The trial is investigating whether the antidepressant medication fluvoxamine, which is currently used to treat patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), can be repurposed […]

Clinical trial launches to evaluate antimalarial drugs for COVID-19 treatment

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is launching a clinical trial for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The trial will investigate the effectiveness of different combinations of the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin in treating ill patients infected with the novel coronavirus. Express Scripts, a Cigna company, […]

Possible COVID-19 treatment: transfusion of antibodies from recovered patients’ blood

With no drugs or vaccines yet approved for COVID-19 and the number of U.S. cases increasing by the thousands every day, doctors are looking to revive a century-old therapy for infectious diseases: transfusing antibodies from the blood of recovered patients into people who are seriously ill. During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, doctors were […]

Immunotherapy using ‘young cells’ offers promising option against cancer

Immunotherapy that involves treating cancer with the body’s own immune cells, or those of a matched donor, shows promise in clinical trials for some patients, but not all. A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that the age of certain immune cells used in such therapy plays a role […]

Breast milk may help prevent sepsis in preemies

A component of breast milk may help protect premature babies from developing sepsis, a fast-moving, life-threatening condition triggered by infection. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have found — in newborn mice — that a molecule called epidermal growth factor in breast milk activates receptors […]

School of Medicine physicians, researchers tackle coronavirus

Soon after a novel coronavirus first appeared in China in late 2019, researchers, doctors and staff at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis began preparing for the possibility of an outbreak. Infectious disease physicians started planning how to respond if a person with suspected exposure to the virus arrived on campus, and researchers […]

Immune cells play surprising role in heart, mouse study suggests

New research in mice suggests that certain immune cells may help guide fetal development of the heart and play a role in how the adult heart beats, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The findings, published in the journal JCI Insight, may help lay a foundation for immunotherapies […]

Radiation therapy for colon cancer works better when specific protein blocked

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis appear to have discovered a way to make radiation therapy for colorectal cancer more effective by inhibiting a protein found in cancer cells in the gut. The approach also helps protect healthy tissue from the negative effects of radiation. Studying cells, mice and tumor samples […]

Revving up immune system may help treat eczema

The aggravating skin condition eczema is most commonly treated by suppressing the immune system, but not all patients get relief. Now, a drug strategy aimed at revving up the immune system and boosting a type of immune cell known as natural killer cells appears, at least in mice, to effectively treat eczema. The innovative approach, […]

Diabetes in mice cured rapidly using human stem cell strategy

Researchers have converted human stem cells into insulin-producing cells and demonstrated in mice infused with such cells that blood sugar levels can be controlled and diabetes functionally cured for nine months. The findings, from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, are published online Feb. 24 in the journal Nature Biotechnology. “These […]

Fight against endometrial cancer boosted with new molecular road map

A new study that reveals the dozens of molecular changes that bring about endometrial cancer offers insight into how physicians might be able to better identify which patients will need aggressive treatment and why a common treatment is not effective for some patients. The study appears Feb. 13 in the journal Cell. Funded by the […]

Immune responses to tuberculosis mapped across 3 species

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s most vexing public health problems. About 1.5 million people died from this bacterial lung infection in 2018, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-quarter of the world’s population — some 2 billion people, mostly in developing countries — are infected with the bacteria that causes TB. […]

High-protein diets boost artery-clogging plaque, mouse study shows

High-protein diets may help people lose weight and build muscle, but a new study in mice suggests they have a down side: They lead to more plaque in the arteries. Further, the new research shows that high-protein diets spur unstable plaque — the kind most prone to rupturing and causing blocked arteries. More plaque buildup […]

Personal toll – Mother’s death sets twin scientists on journey to find precision cancer therapies

Their mother’s death when they were teenagers set identical twins Obi and Malachi Griffith on a shared path to find better cancer therapies. Today, the twins, both geneticists and computational biologists at the School of Medicine, are seeking precision treatments for the disease. The Griffith Lab, driven by the twins’ independent and complementary research interests, […]

Gut microbes alter characteristics of norovirus infection

The highly contagious norovirus causes diarrhea and vomiting and is notorious for spreading rapidly through densely populated spaces, such as cruise ships, nursing homes, schools and day care centers. Each year, it is responsible for some 200,000 deaths, mostly in the developing world. There are no treatments for this intestinal virus, often incorrectly referred to […]

New clues found to help protect heart from damage after heart attack

Studying mice, scientists have shown that boosting the activity of specific immune cells in the heart after a heart attack can protect against developing heart failure, an invariably fatal condition. Patients with heart failure tire easily and become breathless from everyday activities because the heart muscle has lost the ability to pump enough blood to […]

Washington People: Benjamin D. Humphreys – Physician-scientist a leading innovator in kidney research

Benjamin D. Humphreys’ hobbies include experimenting with international cuisine in his kitchen, harvesting heirloom tomatoes in his backyard, and growing miniature kidneys in his laboratory. He has been perfecting his first two hobbies for years. However, his interest in growing tiny kidneys — specifically, using human stem cells to cultivate kidney organoids — began in […]

Uncommon weight-loss surgery best for reducing diabetes risk

As obesity rates climb, so do the number of people receiving weight-loss surgery. One of the most frequently performed weight-loss procedures in the world — Roux-en-Y gastric bypass — is effective, but another procedure rarely performed in the U.S. is more effective at eliminating type 2 diabetes in patients with obesity. A new study from […]

Food for thought – Understanding obesity by examining nutrition and metabolism

At nearly 250 pounds, Linda DeCosta had tried everything — and failed — to lose weight: prescription drugs, exercise programs, dieting. She had even considered bariatric surgery, but insurance wouldn’t cover it. “I was almost starving myself,” DeCosta said. “Our family doesn’t eat out a lot. I don’t cook a lot of fried foods. I […]

For hospitalized patients with fungal infections, specialists save lives

Bloodstream infections caused by the fungus Candida are among the most common and deadly infections in hospitals, with 25,000 such cases seen annually in the U.S. – mostly in people originally hospitalized for other reasons. About 40% to 45% of people with Candida in their blood die of the infection. New research from Washington University School of Medicine in […]