blog posts Experts boost activity of potential therapeutic target in triple-negative breast cancer Nov 30, 2022 8:00 am308 views Less than 20% of diagnosed breast cancers are designated “triple-negative,” meaning that the affected tissues lack three types of receptors often found in other breast cancer types, but TNBCs are often aggressive with a higher risk of recurrence, metastasis and mortality. In a study conducted in TNBC cells and in a mouse model of the disease, researchers found that targeting a specific estrogen receptor that is sometimes present in TNBCs alters the activity of dozens of cancer-related genes and slows the growth and metastasis of these breast cancers. Paper: Neurotic personality trait a key risk factor for stress perception Nov 29, 2022 8:00 am288 views While all of the “Big Five” personality traits – agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness – are related to experiencing stress, neuroticism showed the strongest link, according to research co-written by Bo Zhang, a professor of labor and employment relations and of psychology at Illinois. Diagnoses of suicidal ideation surged among Black pregnant women in 10-year study Nov 29, 2022 8:00 am534 views Diagnoses of suicidal ideation and depression increased dramatically among pregnant Black women from 2008-2018, according to a study led by University of Illinois social work professor Karen Tabb Dina. Second year of pandemic deadlier for middle aged than the first, analysis finds Nov 17, 2022 8:30 am1037 views The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mortality rates, both from COVID-19 and other causes, but the groups hardest hit shifted between the first and second years, according to an analysis of publicly available data. Both years saw an increase in deaths over the five years preceding the pandemic, even with COVID-19 numbers removed. But while the first year was most deadly for those over age 65, the second year hit middle-aged adults the hardest, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found. Study: COVID-19 policies harmed minority women's perinatal experiences, magnified inequities Nov 15, 2022 11:30 am509 views A study by a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign team explored the impact of health care providers’ COVID-19 mitigation policies on women of color who were pregnant or gave birth during the pandemic. Refugee teens in Uganda who 'sext' more likely to use condoms, studies find Nov 2, 2022 11:15 am583 views Studies led by social work professor Moses Okumu found that teens in Uganda who "sexted" were more likely to use condoms and that the online media they use may be means of providing sexual health interventions. Artificial intelligence and molecule machine join forces to generalize automated chemistry Oct 28, 2022 11:30 am1858 views Artificial intelligence, building-block chemistry and a molecule-making machine teamed up to find the best general reaction conditions for synthesizing chemicals important to biomedical and materials research – a finding that could speed innovation and drug discovery as well as make complex chemistry automated and accessible. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators in Poland and Canada reported their findings in the journal Science. Burke elected to National Academy of Medicine Oct 17, 2022 10:30 am1136 views University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign chemistry professor Dr. Martin D. Burke has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine for his work in chemical synthesis, molecular prosthetics and COVID-19 testing. People who viewed sex as a leisure activity enjoyed more, better sex during the pandemic Oct 13, 2022 7:45 am1821 views People who viewed sex as a leisure activity used their pandemic downtime to engage in more frequent, creative and satisfying sex, U. of I. professor Liza Berdychevsky found in a recent survey. Team uses digital cameras, machine learning to predict neurological disease Oct 11, 2022 8:00 am1357 views In an effort to streamline the process of diagnosing patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, researchers used digital cameras to capture changes in gait – a symptom of these diseases – and developed a machine-learning algorithm that can differentiate those with MS and PD from people without those neurological conditions. More physical activity, less screen time linked to better executive function in toddlers, study finds Sep 29, 2022 8:00 am1514 views A new study found that 24-month-old children who spent less than 60 minutes looking at screens each day and those who engaged in daily physical activity had better executive function than their peers. Executive function includes the ability to remember, plan, pay attention, shift between tasks and regulate one's thoughts and behavior. DNA nets capture COVID-19 virus in low-cost rapid-testing platform Sep 23, 2022 11:00 am1556 views 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. Who should get an omicron COVID-19 booster? Sep 12, 2022 9:00 am886 views 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. Light-activated technique helps bring cell powerhouses back into balance Aug 2, 2022 11:00 am601 views 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. Healthy diet after head, neck cancer diagnosis may boost survival Jul 27, 2022 8:00 am840 views 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. In survey, COVID-19 vaccine recipients report changes in menstrual bleeding Jul 15, 2022 1:00 pm2173 views 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. Study: Individualized eating program helps dieters lose weight, keep it off Jul 14, 2022 10:30 am2768 views 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. Study examines pandemic’s impact on volunteer health care workers Jul 12, 2022 1:00 pm512 views 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. Study explores unusual interaction between viruses, live vaccines Jul 6, 2022 8:00 am4454 views 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. COVID-19 virus spike protein flexibility improved by human cell's own modifications Jul 5, 2022 8:00 am1009 views 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. Small molecule transports iron in mice, human cells to treat some forms of anemia Jun 24, 2022 9:00 am831 views 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. Latin dance may be a step toward better working memory for older Latinos Jun 10, 2022 8:15 am1339 views 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. SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show Jun 9, 2022 7:30 am3523 views 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. Study tracks COVID-19 infection dynamics in adults Apr 28, 2022 10:00 am996 views 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. Machine-learning model can distinguish antibody targets Apr 21, 2022 1:30 pm863 views 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. Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test discerns alpha variant from earlier strains Apr 19, 2022 11:30 am1404 views 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. New approach enhances muscle recovery in aged mice Apr 13, 2022 8:00 am1350 views 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. Study: First-pass metabolism of alcohol occurs in women's stomachs Mar 22, 2022 8:45 am1194 views 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. Team identifies compound with potent antiseizure effects Mar 22, 2022 8:00 am1137 views 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. Project helps East St. Louis residents overcome barriers to COVID-19 testing, vaccination Mar 11, 2022 8:15 am1246 views 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. Team uses MRI to image epigenetics in the brain Feb 28, 2022 2:00 pm2353 views 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. Study identifies key regulator of cell differentiation Feb 21, 2022 2:00 pm990 views Scientists have identified a molecule that regulates the fate of cells, switching off their ability to differentiate into distinct cell types. Oncology dietitians rarely ask cancer patients about food insecurity, study finds Feb 11, 2022 8:15 am837 views 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. Study: High COVID-19 rates in older Latinos linked with economics, outside help Feb 9, 2022 8:15 am506 views 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. Study: Lower acculturation linked with poorer cognitive function in older Hispanics Feb 9, 2022 8:00 am976 views 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. New set of chemical building blocks makes complex 3D molecules in a snap Feb 8, 2022 10:00 am1018 views 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 Jan 24, 2022 4:30 pm607 views 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. Overweight dogs respond well to high-protein, high-fiber diet Jan 24, 2022 9:00 am1386 views 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. CRISPR-Cas13 targets proteins causing ALS, Huntington's disease in the mouse nervous system Jan 19, 2022 1:15 pm4211 views 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. Does our place in society influence how we respond to COVID-19 protocol? Dec 23, 2021 11:15 am1471 views 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. How can we identify, respond to pandemic-triggered mental health crises? Dec 23, 2021 7:30 am1178 views 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. Models predict optimal airplane seating for reduced viral transmission Dec 21, 2021 9:45 am13408 views 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. Gene mutation leads to epileptic encephalopathy symptoms, neuron death in mice Dec 17, 2021 9:00 am1112 views 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. Atomic structure of antifungal drug confirms unusual mechanism, opens door to less-toxic derivatives Dec 9, 2021 10:15 am905 views 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. Water disinfection byproduct disrupts reproductive hormones, damages pituitary in female mice Nov 24, 2021 8:00 am741 views 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. PFAS exposure, high-fat diet drive prostate cells’ metabolism into pro-cancer state Nov 11, 2021 10:00 am1372 views 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. Scientists discover how antibiotics penetrate Gram-negative bacterial cell walls Nov 8, 2021 8:00 am2292 views 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. Do kids need a COVID-19 vaccine? Nov 4, 2021 9:00 am1503 views 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. New molecule targets, images and treats lung cancer tumors in mice Oct 25, 2021 10:00 am1160 views 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. Patients view perinatal depression screenings as ineffective, study finds Oct 13, 2021 9:00 am946 views 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.