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What the Allegheny County Health Department is doing to address health disparities. An open letter to the community.

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NEXT PITTSBURGH - Allegheny County, like Minneapolis, has substantial racial disparities that impact all of us. Our communities are starkly divided along racial and ethnic lines. With these lines come distinct differences in access to housing, education, transportation and employment. These differences translate directly to worse health outcomes among our communities of color. In Allegheny County, black people have dramatically higher rates of b... 

My gym is reopening. Reed isn't sure it’s safe to work out there.

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NPR - If you want to exercise indoors, it’s safer to do it at home, says IDM’s Doug Reed, an immunologist and aerobiologist. If you do go to the gym and you’re breathing heavily, it would be better to double your regular physical distance to 12 feet, because we don’t know exactly how far virus particles travel when people are breathing heavily. The potential for being infected or spreading the infection could be much higher.  

Rappocciolo responds to possibility that cholesterol could be the culprit in COVID-19 deaths

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – The study is plausible, says IDM’s Giovanna Rappocciolo, but “rough around the edges”— a situation that could be remedied through the peer-review process. "If the research is verified, then COVID-19 potentially could be treated by manipulating cholesterol levels, with drugs already available. “It opens up a new field of study to try to exploit these pathways to stop the infection of cells.”  

Di, Deslouches, and Montelaro develop promising antibiotic molecule for drug-resistant infections

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CISTIC FIBROSIS NEWS TODAY - With the rising prevalence of superbugs, researchers are turning their attention to antibiotic molecules. Study co-authors Y. Peter Di (EOH), Berthony Deslouches (EOH), and Ronald Montelaro (IDM) have engineered a cationic antimicrobial peptide named WLBU2, licensed by Pitt spin-off Peptilogics, that's now in a clinical trial for preventing infections associated with knee and hip replacements.  

The History and Future of COVID-19

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COVID-19 is one of three novel coronavirus outbreaks in the past 20 years that originated in animals. How is the current outbreak similar and different from the previous ones? What course will COVID-19 take in Pennsylvania?  IDM's  Amy Hartman  puts the current outbreak in perspective with what we know (and don’t know) about SARS-CoV-2. EPI's  Donald Burke  discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely ph... 

Herpes virus infects billions of people worldwide. Rinaldo explains why there isn’t a vaccine yet.

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NBC NEWS – IDM's Charles Rinaldo said that many have tried to come up with vaccines that use two or three proteins out of the approximately 75 that make up the virus. Those would be safe, but have not protected well. Another approach has been to use a weakened form of the whole virus. In that attenuated, its replication capacity is weakened but it’s not as safe. These failures “are why this is such a monster.”  

Chinese biotech reports COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, but Reed is cautious

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SCIENCE - IDM's Douglas Reed, who is developing and testing COVID-19 vaccines in monkey studies, says the number of animals was too small to yield statistically significant results. His team also has a manuscript in preparation that raises concerns about the way the Sinovac team grew the stock of novel coronavirus used to challenge the animals: It may have caused changes that make it less reflective of the ones that infect humans.  

Reed works with lab animals to help defeat the new coronavirus

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SCIENCE – Dozens of research teams are racing to develop animal models that can help find effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. IDM’s Douglas Reed is staging experiments in air chambers that attempt to infect monkeys through this route, which both might increase pathogenicity and offer clues about transmission risks. He explains, “We’re trying to get enough virus into them to get some kind of disease.”  

Mellors says natural remedies haven’t been shown to help you fight the coronavirus

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DISCOVER - As COVID-19 blasts across the globe, viral wellness videos and posts are springing up in its wake. But so far, says John Mellors, IDM professor and chief of infectious diseases at Pitt, no randomized clinical trials have shown vitamins or natural remedies to be effective in treating or preventing COVID-19.  He adds, if you're already eating a balanced diet, suppliments probably aren’t going to juice your COVID-19 immunity.  

Rinaldo helps with coronavirus test development and launch

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UPMC – A new test for COVID-19 was created by a virology team including Charles Rinaldo, chair and professor of infectious diseases and microbiology and director of the UPMC Clinical Virology Laboratory. The health system plans to increase lab capacity and open testing sites around the state. The test follows U.S. CDC guidelines and was validated under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments program of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid ... 

Did a woman get coronavirus twice? Burke is skeptical.

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WIRED - News reports detailing the case raised the possibility that people may not be developing immunity to the new coronavirus, even after they’ve recovered. But Donald Burke, dean emeritus and international infectious disease specialist, says there’s not enough data to support that conclusion. “The question is really: How good is the proof? And we’re a long way away from anything solid. What we need is the sequence of the virus.”  

Hartman & Mertz serve on global coronavirus panel

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TRIB LIVE –  Experts from multiple disciplines gather to discuss the outbreak of novel coronavirus COVID-19. Panelists include IDM’s Amy Hartman, who studies emerging viruses and diseases transmitted from animals to people and then among people; and ACHD medical epidemiologist Kristen Mertz, who also serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Pitt Public Health. “Information is coming out very quickly and it’s hard to … know the facts,” Hartman... 

Rinaldo remembers unsung heroes: Pittsburgh men, decades-long study impact HIV/AIDS research

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - For more than three decades, Pitt Men’s Study leaders have gathered with Pittsburgh men and women to remember those who have died and give thanks for the 1,743 men who have participated in the nation’s longest-running HIV/AIDS research project. IDM's Charles Rinaldo has led the effort since the virus surfaced here in 1981. “We are still searching for a true vaccine to prevent HIV,” Rinaldo says. “But we are dedicated t... 

Frank on PrEP: A drug proven to prevent HIV is still slow to catch on

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TRIB LIVE - Physicians also need to be included in education around prescribing and using PrEP, said IDM's Linda Frank. That goes beyond making sure their patients take a pill a day. It includes working with communities to make sure people have the support and counseling to make healthy decisions. She said, “It’s important to have treatments and vaccines, but we still have to work on that other side of the equation: How do you get people to chan... 

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Recent IDM Publications

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Prevalence and correlates of prep awareness and use among black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in the United States 

Prevalence and correlates of prep awareness and use among black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in the United States

AIDS AND BEHAVIOR - Friedman, MR, Sang, JM, Bukowski, LA, Chandler, CJ, Egan, JE, Eaton, LA, Matthews, DD, Ho, K, Raymond, HF, & Stall, R. found that PrEP awareness campaigns tailored for black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW), concomitant with STI-to-PrEP interventions, will facilitate g... (10/14/2019)
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Contrasting roles of the PD-1 signaling pathway in dendritic cell-mediated induction and regulation of HIV-1-specific effector T cell functions 

Contrasting roles of the PD-1 signaling pathway in dendritic cell-mediated induction and regulation of HIV-1-specific effector T cell functions

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY - Using samples from participants in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort study, Garcia-Bates, Palma, Shen, Gambotto, Macatangay, Ferris, Rinaldo, and Mailliard showed that PD-1 activation plays a positive role in initiating the primary T cell response. But later blocking of that pathway... (12/13/2018)

Development of antibody biomarkers of long term and recent dengue virus infections 

Development of antibody biomarkers of long term and recent dengue virus infections

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGICAL METHODS - BURKE, MARQUES, and colleagues discuss anti-dengue NS1-specific IgG and IgG3 as potential biomarkers of long-term and recent (less than 6 months) DENV infections, respectively.  (06/14/2018)

Tradition and innovation in development of a Zika vaccine 

Tradition and innovation in development of a Zika vaccine

THE LANCET - MARQUES and BURKE comment about two Zika vaccines in clinical development and describe the challenges ahead. (06/14/2018)

Zika virus displacement by a chikungunya outbreak in Recife, Brazil 

Zika virus displacement by a chikungunya outbreak in Recife, Brazil

PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE - Magalhaes, Braga, Cordeiro, Oliveira, Castanha, Maciel, Amancio, Gouveia, Peixoto-deSilva Jr., Peixoto, Britto, Lima, Lima, and Marques detected the tail end of a Zika epidemic in 2015-16 which was displaced by a chikungunya epidemic. Few dengue cases were identified des... (06/14/2018)

Rift Valley fever in animals and humans: Current perspectives 

Rift Valley fever in animals and humans: Current perspectives

ANTIVIRAL RESEARCH - McMillen and Hartman discuss the historical role of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) as a biological weapon and conclude with an outline of the important unanswered questions for ongoing research into this important zoonotic disease. (06/11/2018)

Inefficient HIV-1 trans infection of CD4+ T cells by macrophages from HIV-1 nonprogressors is associated with altered membrane cholesterol and DC-SIGN 

Inefficient HIV-1 trans infection of CD4+ T cells by macrophages from HIV-1 nonprogressors is associated with altered membrane cholesterol and DC-SIGN

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY - Delucia, Rinaldo, Rappocciolo demonstrate that the use of SIMV to decrease macrophage-mediated virus transfer should be considered for future HIV therapeutic development.  (05/18/2018)

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-mediated neuroinflammation dysredulates neurogranin and induces synaptodendritic injury 

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-mediated neuroinflammation dysredulates neurogranin and induces synaptodendritic injury

JOURNAL OF NEUROINFLAMMATION - Guha, Wagner, Ayyavoo conduct first study evaluating the potential role of Ng in the context of HIV-1 neropathogens and conclude that synaptic damage in HAND+ patients could be a result of abrogation of Ng through HIV-1 induced inflammation that dysregulates Ng-CaM in... (05/18/2018)