Arizona Bioscience News: Arizona Republic goes in-depth on latent viruses; Arizona universities combat Valley fever; Tucson venom experts pursue drug discovery

May 5, 2022

By Jessica Vaile

You caught a virus and recovered. But what happens when that virus stays inside you forever? / Arizona Republic

An in-depth series examining latent viruses—which may lie dormant for decades and in some cases inhabit 80-90% of the human population—and the complex roles they play in human health

Why do people get long COVID? A virus called EBV, which causes multiple sclerosis, may hold clues / Arizona Republic

Although the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 are different from those of true latent viruses, scientists are looking at reactivation of latent viruses, and other existing post-infection syndromes, for answers about long-haul COVID-19.

There’s a good chance you have a virus called CMV. It might seem to have no effect—or it might be life-changing / Arizona Republic

Cytomegalovirus infects 50-85% of U.S. adults. Felicia Goodrum, an immunobiology professor at the University of Arizona, specializes in CMV. Kathleen Muldoon, a medical-school professor at Midwestern University, became a CMV specialist of a different kind.

He got throat cancer even though he was never a smoker. The cause? An HPV infection / Arizona Republic

Studying the interplay of the immune system, the gut microbiome, and genetics is leading Arizona researchers toward understanding why some latent viruses cause recurrent infections and ultimately cancer, as can be the case with HPV.

Scientists want to understand the immune system. To do it, they’re looking to fake space / Arizona Republic

A team from Arizona is among several research groups working with NASA on simulated space flights, investigating topics such as the effects of stress on the immune system—including how managing stress can keep latent viruses at bay.

‘A tipping point’: Arizona universities join forces to map the deadly Valley fever fungus / Arizona Republic

About two-thirds of U.S. Valley fever infections are contracted in Arizona, yet until recently, the state had made little financial investment in preventing, treating and researching the fungal infection. That’s what makes the Arizona Board of Regents’ three-year, $3.3 million grant to a collaborative Valley fever research project among the three state-funded universities so historic.

Climate Change is Spreading a Debilitating Fungal Disease Throughout the West / Inside Climate News

California has seen an 800 percent increase in Valley fever cases in the last two decades. Infections are also steadily climbing in Arizona, the state with the largest number of infections. Climate change is largely to blame, creating ideal conditions for the coccidioides fungus to thrive and spread.

Deadly Venom From Spiders and Snakes May Cure What Ails You / New York Times

Efforts to tease apart the vast swarm of proteins in venom have burgeoned in recent years, and the growing catalog of compounds has led to a number of drug discoveries. Two Arizona institutions—the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and the VIPER Institute at the University of Arizona—play critical roles.

A Molecular Revolution: Caris’ New Lab May ‘Change How We Think About Health Forever’ / D Magazine

With their newest lab in Phoenix, Texas-based Caris Life Sciences hopes to use molecular analysis to make cancer diagnosis more accurate, convenient, and detailed than ever before. The $45 million liquid biopsy facility, resulting from more than a billion dollars raised by Caris, will be able to profile 1,500 patients per day, creating hundreds of bioscience jobs in the process.

‘It’s terrifying’: Arizona’s COVID-19 long-haulers face exhaustion and uncertainty / KJZZ

Long COVID-19 is not well understood, but researchers estimate about 30% of people who get infected will develop long-term symptoms—potentially more than 600,000 people experiencing long COVID-19 in Arizona alone. Janko Nikolich-Žugich of the University of Arizona is part of a research team working to enroll 17,000 participants in a nationwide study.

Arizona’s private investors seek to build up local ‘money center’ ecosystem / Phoenix Business Journal

The Arizona Fund Manager Association, a recently formed industry group, is focused on building up the local institutional private investment ecosystem so Arizona businesses can turn to local decision-makers and not be forced to rely on investors in other states or even other countries.

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