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Animation: Understanding COVID-19 transmission, informing control

7 Aug 2020 By Dr Fiona Jones, Digital Editor Oxford Sparks We’ve all heard of – and indeed been affected by – COVID-19, the disease caused by infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus. We’ve also become familiar with a plethora of new terminology, with “social distancing”, “lockdown”, “flattening the curve” and “R number” regularly and effortlessly winding their way into our conversations. Something we might not be so familiar with, however, is the scientific process undertaken when we find ourselves faced with a new and unknown pathogen (whether that be a virus, bacterium or prion).

A novel strategy for using compounds as ‘anti-evolution’ drugs to combat antibiotic resistance

The rise of antibiotic resistance in many pathogens has been driven by the spread of a small number of strains, suggesting that some bacteria may be genetically pre-disposed to evolving resistance. Researchers at Oxford University have tested this hypothesis by quantifying differences in evolvability between pathogen strains and by searching for ‘potentiator’ genes that accelerate the evolution of resistance. Their results are published today in Nature Communications.

New AI test identifies COVID-19 within one hour in emergency departments

Infectious disease and clinical machine learning experts at the University of Oxford have developed an Artificial Intelligence test that can rapidly screen for COVID-19 in patients arriving in emergency departments, and a preprint paper has been published on its effectiveness.

Four Oxford academics honoured by the Royal Society

Four researchers from Oxford University have today received prestigious medals and prizes from the Royal Society in recognition of their outstanding contributions to science and medicine.

Three months on the sofa? Binge eating, alcohol and lack of exercise hit England’s mental health in lockdown

Poor nutrition and less physical activity during lockdown, had a serious impact on mental health in England, according to preliminary findings today from an Oxford University study.

Researchers discover cell communication mechanism that drives cancer adaptation

Collaborative Cancer Research UK-funded studies from University of Oxford researchers have uncovered a new mechanism by which cancer cells adapt to the stresses they encounter as they grow and respond to therapies. This mechanism involves cells releasing small vesicles, known as exosomes.

New Programme Helps Frontline Healthcare Workers at Risk from PTSD and Depression

Researchers from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford have developed a new mental health treatment programme to provide frontline healthcare workers with 1-to-1 support, including fast-track access to PTSD or depression treatment. This evidence-based programme, called SHAPE Recovery, builds on an outreach programme shown to reduce rates of PTSD and depression.

Scientists discover key to restricting antibiotic resistant bacteria

Antibiotic resistance poses a significant threat to human health on a global scale. It has been predicted that resistant infections will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050. Given that antibiotics are crucial in many areas of medicine, it is important to understand how antibiotic use influences the likelihood that resistance will emerge in response to treatment.

Antibiotics disrupt development of the 'social brain' in mice

Antibiotic treatment in early life seems to impede brain signalling pathways that function in social behaviour and pain regulation in mice, a new study by Dr Katerina Johnson and Dr Philip Burnet has found. It was published today in BMC Neuroscience.

New study reveals Oxford coronavirus vaccine produces strong immune response

A team of scientists at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group has taken the next step towards the discovery of a safe, effective and accessible vaccine against coronavirus.

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