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  • Artists rendering of cornaviruses. A virus in the foreground is wrapped in a DNA net that is giving off a glowing signal.

    DNA nets capture COVID-19 virus in low-cost rapid-testing platform

    Tiny nets woven from DNA strands can ensnare the spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19, lighting up the virus for a fast-yet-sensitive diagnostic test – and also impeding the virus from infecting cells, opening a new possible route to antiviral treatment, according to a new study led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Christopher Brooke wearing a green shirt.

    Who should get an omicron COVID-19 booster?

    New COVID-19 vaccine boosters that target omicron variants are being distributed. Although the variants seem less deadly, the boosters are needed to keep up with the virus as it evolves, says University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign microbiology professor Christopher Brooke, a virologist and vaccine expert.

  • Portrait of Kai Zhang

    Light-activated technique helps bring cell powerhouses back into balance

    Light-activated proteins can help normalize dysfunction within cells and could be used as a treatment for diseases such as cancer or mitochondrial diseases, new research suggests.

    Researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University at Buffalo published the results of their study in the journal Nature Communications. The research centers on the functions of mitochondria, organelles within a cell that act as the cell’s “power plant” and source of energy.

  • Photo of graduate student Christian Maino Vieytes

    Healthy diet after head, neck cancer diagnosis may boost survival

    Patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head or neck were 93% less likely to die during the first three years after diagnosis if they ate a healthy diet high in nutrients found to deter chronic disease, U. of I. researchers found in a recent study.

  • Photo of the researcher.

    In survey, COVID-19 vaccine recipients report changes in menstrual bleeding

    A new analysis of reports from more than 35,000 people offers the most comprehensive assessment so far of menstrual changes experienced by pre- and post-menopausal individuals in the first two weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Published in the journal Science Advances, the study adds to the evidence that significant numbers of people experience this unexpected side effect.

  • Photo of Mani Nakamura and his co-authors professor emeritus John Erdman, alumna Catherine Applegate and graduate student Mindy Lee

    Study: Individualized eating program helps dieters lose weight, keep it off

    An individualized diet plan developed by nutritionists at the U. of I. shows promise at helping users lose weight and keep it off. The program uses a visual tool that encourages dieters to select foods high in protein and fiber.

  • Photo of professor Tara Powell and graduate student Jenna Muller

    Study examines pandemic’s impact on volunteer health care workers

    Having high levels of compassion satisfaction buffered some temporary medical workers at a New York field hospital from stress disorders during the early days of the pandemic, a new study found.

  • Photo of the researcher.

    Study explores unusual interaction between viruses, live vaccines

    A study of a herpes virus that infects chickens offers new insights into potentially problematic interactions between vaccines made from live viruses and the viruses they are meant to thwart.

  • A computer rendering of an atomic-level model of viral spike proteins

    COVID-19 virus spike protein flexibility improved by human cell's own modifications

    When the coronavirus causing COVID-19 infects human cells, the cell’s protein-processing machinery makes modifications to the spike protein that render it more flexible and mobile, which could increase its ability to infect other cells and to evade antibodies, a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found.

    The researchers created an atomic-level computational model of the spike protein and ran multiple simulations to examine the protein’s dynamics and how the cell’s modifications affected those dynamics. This is the first study to present such a detailed picture of the protein that plays a key role in COVID-19 infection and immunity, the researchers said.

  • Martin Burke stands behind a seated Stella Ekaputri

    Small molecule transports iron in mice, human cells to treat some forms of anemia

    A natural small molecule derived from a cypress tree can transport iron in live mice and human cells lacking the protein that normally does the job, easing a buildup of iron in the liver and restoring hemoglobin and red blood cell production, a new study found.

  • Photo of professor Susan Aguinaga

    Latin dance may be a step toward better working memory for older Latinos

    Latin dance lessons may boost the working memory of Latino older adults and help prevent age-related cognitive decline, says new research by kinesiology and community health professor Susan Aguiñaga.

  • A masked student holds a saliva collection test tube

    SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show

    In the fall of 2020, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomed students back for in-person instruction amid the powerful first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university successfully maintained operations throughout the semester – with zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations in the campus community – thanks to its “SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell” program. In a sweeping report, the team behind the campuswide collaboration details the innovations in modeling, saliva testing and results reporting that helped mitigate the spread of the virus, and shares the data collected and lessons learned through the process.

  • Photo of researchers

    Study tracks COVID-19 infection dynamics in adults

    A team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tracked the rise and fall of SARS-CoV-2 in the saliva and nasal cavities of people newly infected with the virus. The study was the first to follow acute COVID-19 infections over time through repeated sampling and to compare results from different testing methodologies.

  • Graphic illustration of antibodies attacking the SARS-CoV-2 virus

    Machine-learning model can distinguish antibody targets

    A new study shows that it is possible to use the genetic sequences of a person’s antibodies to predict what pathogens those antibodies will target. Reported in the journal Immunity, the new approach successfully differentiates between antibodies against influenza and those attacking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Portrait of coauthor Rashid Bashir

    Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test discerns alpha variant from earlier strains

    A point-of-care COVID-19 test developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can now detect and differentiate the alpha variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from earlier strains in saliva samples.

  • Photo of researchers

    New approach enhances muscle recovery in aged mice

    Scientists have developed a promising new method to combat the age-related losses in muscle mass that often accompany immobility after injury or illness. Their technique, demonstrated in mice, arrests the process by which muscles begin to deteriorate at the onset of exercise after a period of inactivity.

  • Photo of the research team at the U. of I.: first author Neda Seyedsadjadi, Raul Alfaro Leiva, M. Yanina Pepino and Dr. Blair Rowitz

    Study: First-pass metabolism of alcohol occurs in women's stomachs

    Research led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign identifies the stomach, not the liver, as the site of alcohol first-pass metabolism in women who had sleeve gastrectomies and control-group peers.

  • research team

    Team identifies compound with potent antiseizure effects

    Researchers studying epileptic seizures of the temporal lobe – the most common type of epilepsy – discovered a compound that reduces seizures in the hippocampus, a brain region where many such seizures originate. The compound, known as TC-2153, lessened the severity of seizures in mice.

  • Photo of social work professor Lili Windsor standing in front of a campus building wearing a winter coat and long scarf

    Project helps East St. Louis residents overcome barriers to COVID-19 testing, vaccination

    A project that is underway in East St. Louis, Illinois, is investigating strategies for overcoming barriers to COVID-19 testing and vaccination among more than 548 medically and socially vulnerable residents of St. Clair County.

  • Research team photo

    Team uses MRI to image epigenetics in the brain

    A multidisciplinary team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has devised a new approach to 3D imaging that captures DNA methylation, a key epigenetic change associated with learning in the brain. The scientists say their proof-of-concept study in pigs will easily translate to humans, as the new method relies on standard MRI technology and biological markers already in use in human medicine.

  • Photo of research team.

    Study identifies key regulator of cell differentiation

    Scientists have identified a molecule that regulates the fate of cells, switching off their ability to differentiate into distinct cell types.

  • Photo of researchers Anna Arthur, Amirah Burton Obanla and Brenda Koester

    Oncology dietitians rarely ask cancer patients about food insecurity, study finds

    While many cancer survivors experience food insecurity, few oncology registered dietitians interviewed by U. of I. researchers indicated that they routinely screen their patients for it.

  • Photo of social work professor Lissette Piedra

    Study: High COVID-19 rates in older Latinos linked with economics, outside help

    Financial hardship and outside help were significantly associated with COVID-19 diagnoses among older Latinos, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign social work professor Lissette Piedra and her team found.

  • Photo of graduate student Rifat B. Alam and professors Susan Aguinaga and Andiara Schwingel

    Study: Lower acculturation linked with poorer cognitive function in older Hispanics

    A new study on culture and cognition found that long-term Hispanic immigrants who were less acculturated to the U.S. performed significantly worse on cognitive function tests than their highly acculturated peers.

  • Photo of the researchers in front of their molecule machine

    New set of chemical building blocks makes complex 3D molecules in a snap

    A new set of molecular building blocks aims to make complex chemistry as simple and accessible as a toy construction kit. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a new class of chemical building blocks that simply snap together to form 3D molecules with complex twists and turns, and an automated machine to assemble the blocks like a 3D printer for molecules. This automation could allow chemists and nonchemists alike to develop new pharmaceuticals, materials, diagnostic probes, catalysts, perfumes, sweeteners and more.

  • Study: Telehealth services for the elderly should include caregivers

    Family caregivers are often involved in the day-to-day activities of their older relatives, such as communicating with doctors, helping them navigate the health care system and making decisions that affect their care. When the pandemic hit, forcing health care systems to switch to telehealth visits, many of the caregivers who would have been involved in in-person care were left out of the process, according to a new observational study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

  • Cute dog lies on the grass looking at the camera.

    Overweight dogs respond well to high-protein, high-fiber diet

    A study of overweight dogs fed a reduced calorie, high-protein, high-fiber diet for 24 weeks found that the dogs’ body composition and inflammatory markers changed over time in ways that parallel the positive changes seen in humans on similar diets. The dogs achieved a healthier weight without losing too much muscle mass, and their serum triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers all decreased with weight loss.

  • A microscope image of cells

    CRISPR-Cas13 targets proteins causing ALS, Huntington's disease in the mouse nervous system

    A new study by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers used a targeted CRISPR technique in the central nervous systems of mice to turn off production of mutant proteins that can cause ALS and Huntington’s disease. Rather than the popular DNA-editing CRISPR-Cas9 technique, the new approach uses CRISPR-Cas13, which can target mRNA – the messenger molecule that carries protein blueprints transcribed from DNA. The Illinois team developed Cas13 systems that could target and cut RNAs that code for the proteins that trigger ALS and Huntington’s disease, effectively silencing the genes without disturbing the cell’s DNA.

  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students seated on the field of Memorial Stadium in social-distanced groups.

    Does our place in society influence how we respond to COVID-19 protocol?

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign electrical and computer engineering professor Lav Varshney is a co-author of a new study that explores how social capital influences choices regarding COVID-19 mitigation compliance. Illinois News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with Varshney about the lessons learned from this study and how they may help in other public health crises.

  • Photo of social work professor Tara Powell

    How can we identify, respond to pandemic-triggered mental health crises?

    Social work professor Tara Powell discusses the U.S. surgeon general's recent advisory about a looming mental health crisis among the country's youths in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Sheldon H. Jacobson

    Models predict optimal airplane seating for reduced viral transmission

    As airline ticket sales have soared during the holiday season and the omicron variant causes surges of COVID-19 cases, a new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study may help passengers and airlines reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission by optimally seating passengers to minimize potential virus spread. Researchers used the most current data on aerosol spread on airplanes to calculate optimal seating assignments for common Boeing aircraft at different capacities. 

  • Eung Chang Kim and Hee Jung Chung in a laboratory.

    Gene mutation leads to epileptic encephalopathy symptoms, neuron death in mice

    Mice with a genetic mutation seen in patients with epileptic encephalopathy, a severe form of congenital epilepsy, exhibit not only the seizure, developmental and behavioral symptoms of the disorder, but also neural degeneration and inflammation in the brain, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found in a new study. The findings highlight the mutation as an important part of the disease’s pathology and a potential target for treatment.

  • Dr. Martin Burke sits at a desk.

    Atomic structure of antifungal drug confirms unusual mechanism, opens door to less-toxic derivatives

    Advanced molecular imaging technology has now mapped the structure of a drug widely used to treat fungal infections but whose workings have mystified researchers and physicians for nearly 70 years. In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the National Institutes of Health described in atomistic detail the structure of the drug amphotericin B, a powerful but toxic antifungal agent. Seeing the structure provides illumination in the researchers’ quest to formulate less-toxic AmB derivatives.

  • Professor Lori Raetzman and student Rachel Gonzalez stand outdoors.

    Water disinfection byproduct disrupts reproductive hormones, damages pituitary in female mice

    A byproduct formed during water disinfection disrupts hormones in the brain that regulate the female reproductive cycle in mice and also damages cells in the pituitary gland, a new study from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found. The new study’s findings of the chemical’s effects on reproductive regulation in the brain complement previous work that found that it also disrupts function in and causes damage to ovary cells, indicating the chemical could impact the entire reproductive system. The researchers hope that the continued study of these effects can help establish a safe level of exposure to guide future regulations.

  • The research team led by Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, with Michael J. Spinella and Joseph Irudayaraj

    PFAS exposure, high-fat diet drive prostate cells’ metabolism into pro-cancer state

    Consuming a high-fat diet along with exposure to PFAS changes benign and malignant prostate cells, promoting rapid tumor growth, scientists at the University of Illinois found in mouse study.

  • Photo of research team.

    Scientists discover how antibiotics penetrate Gram-negative bacterial cell walls

    Scientists have labored for decades to find antibiotics that work against Gram-negative bacteria, which cause some of the deadliest infections in hospital settings and are most likely to be resistant to treatment with existing antibiotics. In a study reported in the journal Chemical Science, researchers developed a new method to determine how antibiotics with specific chemical properties thread their way through tiny pores in the otherwise impenetrable cell envelopes of Gram-negative bacteria.

  • Rebecca Lee Smith stands outdoors.

    Do kids need a COVID-19 vaccine?

    The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine for school-aged children offers protection for children as well as eases challenges faced by their families and their schools, says Rebecca Lee Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Professor Jefferson Chan stands on the left, graduate student Melissa Lucero stands on the right.

    New molecule targets, images and treats lung cancer tumors in mice

    Lung cancer can be elusive to spot and difficult to treat, but University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a finely tuned molecular agent that can precisely target lung and other cancer cells for imaging and treatment.

  • Photo of Karen M. Tabb's research team

    Patients view perinatal depression screenings as ineffective, study finds

    A standardized protocol and patient-centered approach are needed to improve perinatal depression screenings so patients feel the screenings are useful and effective, a new study found.

  • Nicholas Wu stands with arms crossed.

    Wu earns NIH Director's New Innovator Award

    Biochemistry professor Nicholas Wu has received a 2021 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. His project aims to understand how antibodies interact with their targets.

  • An artist's rendering of viruses passing through a nanopore sensor

    DNA sensor quickly determines whether viruses are infectious

    A new sensor can detect not only whether a virus is present, but whether it’s infectious – an important distinction for containing viral spread. Researchers demonstrated the sensor, which integrates specially designed DNA fragments and nanopore sensing, with two key viruses that cause infections worldwide: the human adenovirus and the virus that causes COVID-19.  

  • Timothy Tana dn Nicholas Wu stand in a laboratory.

    Antibodies from original strain COVID-19 infection don't bind to variants, study finds

    People infected with the original strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 early in the pandemic produced a consistent antibody response, making two main groups of antibodies to bind to the spike protein on the virus’s outer surface. However, those antibodies don’t bind well to newer variants, a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found.

  • Avocados change belly fat distribution in women, controlled study finds

    An avocado a day could help redistribute belly fat in women toward a healthier profile, according to a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators. One hundred and five adults with overweight and obesity participated in a randomized controlled trial that provided one meal a day for 12 weeks. Women who consumed avocado as part of their daily meal had a reduction in deeper visceral abdominal fat.

  • A portrait of Dr. Jim Lowe

    Can people take a livestock drug to treat a deadly virus?

    Taking large or multiple doses of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin can cause a toxic overdose, and humans should not take forms intended for animal use, says Illinois veterinary medicine expert Dr. Jim Lowe.

  • Social work professor Lissette Piedra

    Latinos' beliefs about social status may affect their cardiovascular health, study finds

    Subjective perceptions of their social status may have stronger effects on the cardiovascular health of Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. than objective markers such as income, according to a new study led by Lissette Piedra.

  • An artist's rendering of Wnt proteins in a cell membrane

    Light can trigger key signaling pathway for embryonic development, cancer

    Blue light is illuminating new understanding of a key signaling pathway in embryo development, tissue maintenance and cancer genesis.

    Illinois researchers developed a method that makes membrane-bound receptors reactive to light, triggering the Wnt pathway.

  • Photo of Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois

    Study: Domestic control of COVID-19 takes priority over international travel bans

    A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign economist Yilan Xu says taming domestic transmission of COVID-19 ought to be prioritized over international travel bans.

  • Photo of researchers standing in a laboratory with equipment and supplements used in the study on the bench in front of them.

    Study identifies molecule that stimulates muscle-building

    In a randomized control study of 10 healthy young men, researchers compared how consuming the single amino acid leucine or its two-molecule equivalent, dileucine, influenced muscle-building and breakdown. They found that dileucine boosts the metabolic processes that drive muscle growth 42% more than free leucine does.

  • Photo of researchers.

    Study offers insight into underlying causes of seizure disorder in babies

    Researchers report that infantile spasms, a rare but serious seizure disorder in babies, appear to be the result of a molecular pathway gone awry. In their study of a mouse model of the disorder, the researchers discovered that genetic mutations associated with the disease impair a pathway that is involved in building new synapses in the hippocampus, a brain region essential to learning and memory.

  • Mikihiro Sato, professor of recreation, sport and tourism

    What impact do the Olympics and mass-sporting events have on public health?

    Attending high-profile and mass-participation sporting events may increase individuals’ physical activity levels and enhance their emotional well-being, according to Mikihiro Sato, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism.