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How Accurate Are the Coronavirus Diagnostic and Antibody Tests? – Healthline

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Theres encouraging and not so encouraging news about COVID-19 testing.

The most common tests used to diagnose an infection with the novel coronavirus are almost 100 percent effective if administered correctly.

However, the same cant be said of tests to determine if youve already had the disease and have developed antibodies.

Experts say diagnostic testing is one of the most powerful public health tools for fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

The tests identify people who may need treatment. Results also trace those who have been in contact with other individuals to help prevent the transmission of the disease further. This can assist epidemiologists in determining how widely the virus has spread.

Testing makes the enemy visible, said Dr. Emily Volk, an assistant professor of pathology at the University of Texas-Health in San Antonio and president-elect of the College of American Pathologists (CAP).

There are two basic types of tests for the novel coronavirus. One type diagnoses an infection and the other tests for antibodies.

Diagnostic tests detect active infections. This is the test you want if you think youve been exposed to the coronavirus or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

There are currently two types of diagnostic tests available.

The RT-PCR nasopharyngeal tests are more widely used and more familiar. Most involve sticking a 6-inch swab deep into your nose to collect virus samples to test.

However, some more recently approved RT-PCR tests seek to avoid the discomfort associated with the nasopharyngeal swab tests by allowing samples to be collected via a shallow swab of the nose or by testing saliva for the presence of the virus.

If performed correctly, RT-PCR swab tests would be pretty close to 100 percent accurate, Volk told Healthline.

We should be diagnosing people with PCR tests because they are the most accurate, added Dr. Christina Wojewoda, a pathologist at the University of Vermont and vice chair of CAPs microbiology committee.

To get the most accurate results, RT-PCR tests should be conducted 8 days after suspected exposure or infection, to ensure that enough viral material is present to detect.

Some clinicians know that, but people who are swabbing may not be passing that information along, Wojewoda told Healthline.

Its also possible to administer the test too late, after the body has successfully fought off the disease, according to Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

The test must also be administered properly, which means inserting the swab 3 inches or so to reach the cavity where the nasal passages meet the pharynx.

If youve had this test and it wasnt uncomfortable, it wasnt done correctly, Schaffner told Healthline.

False-positive results, while rare, can occur with PCR tests, said Wojewoda, because the coronavirus genetic material may linger in the body long after recovery from an infection.

You cant tell if the person [had an infection] 3 days ago or 5 months ago, she said.

Swabs are also used to collect samples for antigen testing. These tests have the advantage of yielding faster results (hours rather than several days).

Theyre also less accurate than RT-PRC tests, mostly because they require test samples to contain large amounts of virus proteins to yield a positive result.

False-negative results from antigen tests may range as high as 20 to 30 percent.

If an antigen test is positive, you can believe it, said Wojewoda. If its negative, you have to question that.

As the name suggests, these tests look for antibodies made by your immune system in response to an infection with the new coronavirus.

Antibody tests are not diagnostic tests.

Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks after recovery, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because of this, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose an active coronavirus infection.

Antibody tests also arent terribly useful.

Ideally, a positive antibody test would tell you that youve recovered from COVID-19 or a coronavirus infection and have immunity from future infections, allowing you to return to work, travel, and socialization without the risk of transmitting the infection or becoming sick again yourself.

However, researchers dont yet know whether the presence of antibodies means that you have immunity, whether you could still get sick from a different strain of the virus, or how long immunity lasts.

Antibody tests are problematic because they can be misused easily, said Volk. You may think if you have a positive antibody test that you dont have to wear a mask or conform to social distancing, but antibodies dont tell us that you have immunological armor against future infections.

Antibody tests also are subject to false-positive results.

The job of antibodies is to stick to things, so they can create a positive test result if they react to a different type of coronavirus, said Wojewoda.

Antibody tests show the most promise if the way the human body controls the coronavirus is with an antibody response, Wojewoda added. If not, it doesnt make any difference.

For example, she said, its T cells, not antibodies, that help the body fight an HIV infection.

Thats another piece of data that needs to be figured out before testing can be figured out, Wojewoda said.

Every COVID-19 test currently (and legally) available in the United States has been approved by the FDA under the agencys Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) protocol.

The EUA permits the FDA to allow unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life threatening diseases or conditions caused by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat agents when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.

That has allowed novel coronavirus tests to quickly hit the market without the research and testing normally required for FDA approval.

To date, the FDA has approved 130 different RT-PCR, antigen, and antibody tests for the new coronavirus.

Doing a full clinical trial takes a long time, but we need tests now, said Sherry Dunbar, PhD, senior director of global scientific affairs for Luminex Corporation, which manufactures a pair of PRC tests and has submitted an application to the FDA for emergency approval of a new antigen test.

Experts generally agree that the RT-PCR tests are more accurate and useful than antigen and antibody tests, which are better used as confirmatory tools.

Dunbar told Healthline that some testing labs are using multiple tests to anticipate shortages on testing products. Theyre also using the quicker tests when demand is high and the slower but more accurate tests on weekends or during slower times.

Wojewoda said that while some tests promise quicker results than others, the biggest limiting factor to turnaround results is shortages of reagents the chemicals used to do the testing.

Im not looking for a new test, she said. Those on the market are as accurate and fast as they need to be. We have the instruments we need to test. We just need more stuff to do it with.

As with most other things regarding the novel coronavirus, pathologists and testing labs are learning about COVID-19 on the fly, said Dunbar.

Never in my career have I seen anything like this, where the public is discussing and analyzing the data at the same time as the researchers, she said. Were basing our response on past knowledge of other viruses, but as we like to say, the bugs dont read the book. What happened in the past can help us prepare, but things will continue to evolve.

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How Accurate Are the Coronavirus Diagnostic and Antibody Tests? - Healthline

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Takeda and the New York Academy of Sciences Announce 2020 Innovators in Science Award Winners – Business Wire

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 2:17 pm

NEW YORK & OSAKA, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (Takeda) (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) and the New York Academy of Sciences announced today the Winners of the third annual Innovators in Science Award for their excellence in and commitment to innovative science that has significantly advanced the field of rare disease research. Each Winner receives a prize of US $200,000.

The 2020 Winner of the Senior Scientist Award is Adrian R. Krainer, Ph.D., St. Giles Foundation Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Prof. Krainer is recognized for his outstanding research on the mechanisms and control of RNA splicing, a step in the normal process by which genetic information in DNA is converted into proteins. Prof. Krainer studies splicing defects in patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a devastating, inherited pediatric neuromuscular disorder caused by loss of motor neurons, resulting in progressive muscle atrophy and eventually, death. Prof. Krainers work culminated notably in the development of the first drug to be approved by global regulatory bodies that can delay and even prevent the onset of an inherited neurodegenerative disorder.

Collectively, rare diseases affect millions of families worldwide, who urgently need and deserve our help. Im extremely honored to receive this recognition for research that my lab and our collaborators carried out to develop the first approved medicine for SMA, said Prof. Krainer. As basic researchers, we are driven by curiosity and get to experience the thrill of discovery; but when the fruits of our research can actually improve patients lives, everything else pales in comparison.

The 2020 Winner of the Early-Career Scientist Award is Jeong Ho Lee, M.D., Ph.D, Associate Professor, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Prof. Lee is recognized for his research investigating genetic mutations in stem cells in the brain that result in rare developmental brain disorders. He was the first to identify the causes of intractable epilepsies and has identified the genes responsible for several developmental brain disorders, including focal cortical dysplasias, Joubert syndromea disorder characterized by an underdevelopment of the brainstemand hemimegalencephaly, which is the abnormal enlargement of one side of the brain. Prof. Lee also is the Director of the National Creative Research Initiative Center for Brain Somatic Mutations, and Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of SoVarGen, a biopharmaceutical company aiming to discover novel therapeutics and diagnosis for intractable central nervous system (CNS) diseases caused by low-level somatic mutation.

It is a great honor to be recognized by a jury of such globally respected scientists whom I greatly admire, said Prof. Lee. More importantly, this award validates research into brain somatic mutations as an important area of exploration to help patients suffering from devastating and untreatable neurological disorders.

The 2020 Winners will be honored at the virtual Innovators in Science Award Ceremony and Symposium in October 2020. This event provides an opportunity to engage with leading researchers, clinicians and prominent industry stakeholders from around the world about the latest breakthroughs in the scientific understanding and clinical treatment of genetic, nervous system, metabolic, autoimmune and cardiovascular rare diseases.

At Takeda, patients are our North Star and those with rare diseases are often underserved when it comes to the discovery and development of transformative medicines, said Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., President, Research & Development at Takeda. Insights from the ground-breaking research of scientists like Prof. Krainer and Prof. Lee can lead to pioneering approaches and the development of novel medicines that have the potential to change patients lives. Thats why we are proud to join with the New York Academy of Sciences to broadly share and champion their workand hopefully propel this promising science forward.

Connecting science with the world to help address some of societys most pressing challenges is central to our mission, said Nicholas Dirks, Ph.D., President and CEO, the New York Academy of Sciences. In this third year of the Innovators in Science Award we are privileged to recognize two scientific leaders working to unlock the power of the genome to bring innovations that address the urgent needs of patients worldwide affected by rare diseases.

About the Innovators in Science Award

The Innovators in Science Award grants two prizes of US $200,000 each year: one to an Early-Career Scientist and the other to a well-established Senior Scientist who have distinguished themselves for the creative thinking and impact of their research. The Innovators in Science Award is a limited submission competition in which research universities, academic institutions, government or non-profit institutions, or equivalent from around the globe with a well-established record of scientific excellence are invited to nominate their most promising Early-Career Scientists and their most outstanding Senior Scientists working in one of four selected therapeutic fields of neuroscience, gastroenterology, oncology, and regenerative medicine. Prize Winners are determined by a panel of judges, independently selected by the New York Academy of Sciences, with expertise in these disciplines. The New York Academy of Sciences administers the Award in partnership with Takeda.

For more information please visit the Innovators in Science Award website.

About Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) is a global, values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to bringing Better Health and a Brighter Future to patients by translating science into highly-innovative medicines. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on four therapeutic areas: Oncology, Rare Diseases, Neuroscience, and Gastroenterology (GI). We also make targeted R&D investments in Plasma-Derived Therapies and Vaccines. We are focusing on developing highly innovative medicines that contribute to making a difference in people's lives by advancing the frontier of new treatment options and leveraging our enhanced collaborative R&D engine and capabilities to create a robust, modality-diverse pipeline. Our employees are committed to improving quality of life for patients and to working with our partners in health care in approximately 80 countries. For more information, visit https://www.takeda.com.

About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at http://www.nyas.org.

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Takeda and the New York Academy of Sciences Announce 2020 Innovators in Science Award Winners - Business Wire

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Will the New Orleans Pelicans off-court chemistry matter more in closed campus? – Pelican Debrief

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Its July, and that means a return to New Orleans Pelicans basketball! But its not the typical July basketball we are used to. Normally July means we are checking out the newest draft picks during summer league games in Las Vegas.

Who could forget our first look at Zion Williamson taking the court in a Pelicans uniform a year ago?

But this year is different in every way, including the NBA season.So what will the new version of the NBA look like in Orlando? Well find out soon enough.

All-Star Forward Brandon Ingram spoke to the media earlier this week about motivating each other and feeding off of each other during the games.

We have to use our own juice, our own energyjust like going back to open gym where were just trying to go at each other and trying to make the best out of each other, but trying to do it in the right way, Ingram told reporters. I think this is a time where we have to feed off of other people on the team and feed off the fire of the bench.

But the team doesnt just need to rely on each other when dealing with actual game play. The bubble format will also test their mental capabilities, as Jrue Holiday said in an interview with the AP.

This is one of the mental parts about it that guys have to adjust to, where someone like me, I go home and its where I kind of relax, Holiday said. I try my best not to bring my work home with me so I can hang out with my wife, my dog, and my daughter and I can do things like that. I think thats going to be a little bit of a challenge, especially after like seven to 10 days.

The Pelicans arrived in Orlando this week and will get rolling with their full-squad practices before three scrimmage games. The first game of the revamped season is July 30 against the Utah Jazz at 5:30 pm NOLA time, which you can see on TNT.

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Will the New Orleans Pelicans off-court chemistry matter more in closed campus? - Pelican Debrief

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‘Intangibles’ examines team chemistry, with help from Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent – The Athletic

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 2:16 pm

One of the glorious things about Joan Ryans new book is how often her interview subjects tell her that her premise is utter baloney.

Willie Mays scolds her.

Chemistry? Chemistry. Theres no chemistry!

Jeff Kent scoffs.

Listen, the best players are some of the biggest pricks to ever play the game. The biggest assholes. Selfish. Greedy.

Jim Leyland takes another puff from his cigarette.

To me chemistry was a subject you took in school. I had teams thatd go to chapel together every Sunday and couldnt win a game. So that dont mean shit to me. Forget chemistry out here.

Ryan, a nationally award-winning journalist who is now a media consultant with the Giants, welcomes the skepticism. Thats the point of this whole enterprise, to sort through the fact and fiction of what locker-room camaraderie or lack thereof might mean to...

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'Intangibles' examines team chemistry, with help from Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent - The Athletic

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UPDATE: People can return to homes and businesses following chemical spill – WQOW TV News 18

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 2:16 pm

UPDATE 10:30 a.m. : Eau Claire police say people can return to their homes and businesses.

UPDATEEau Claire (WQOW) - According to the DNR, the truck that tipped was hauling 26,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, 300 gallons of diesel and an unknown amount of dynamite.

Also per the DNR, local HAZMAT and airport HAZMAT are enroute and rougly 8,000 pounds of fertilizer has spilled. They also say a unknown amount of diesel spilled through a small hole in the tank.

Two storm drains are in the area and potentially impacted.

UPDATEEau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire police say a truck hauling hazardous material has tipped on Highway 53 near Interstate 94.

Eau Claire police tell News 18 the truck was hauling ammonium nitrate.

Because of that, police say they are evacuating all homes and businesses within 1/3 mile radius of the crash.

That includes residences in the Gatehouse Drive and House Road area and businesses in the Bullis Farm Road area.

Eau Claire (WQOW) - A stretch of HWY 53 is closed this morning due to an accident according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

All lanes on HWY 53 on a stretch from Golf Road to the I-94 interchange are closed.

No word on how long the closure will be in place.

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UPDATE: People can return to homes and businesses following chemical spill - WQOW TV News 18

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The sponge with the secret recipe: A cancer-fighting chemical – Mongabay.com

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Throughout the waters surrounding Indonesia, a porous tubular creature sits fixed onto coral reefs, its plain appearance hiding a potentially lifesaving secret.

Researchers recently found that this sponge produces a substance that could fight cancer and other lethal diseases, and theyve proposed cultivating it to benefit Indonesias marine environment and economy.

Acanthostrongylophora ingens yields a molecule called manzamine A, which counters cervical cancer cells in the lab, according to a paper published in the Journal of Natural Products.

Although Pap smears and human papillomavirus vaccines have lowered this type of cancers occurrence over the years, it remains the fourth most common in women, with roughly 14,000 diagnoses and more than 4,000 deaths projected in the U.S. alone for 2020 by the American Cancer Society. Manzamine A, which comes from bacteria living in a mutually beneficial relationship with the sponge, has huge implications for stopping this killer because it could restrain aggressive tumors without damaging healthy cells, according to the paper.

It prevents cell replication rather than killing the cell outright, leading to immediate impacts on tumor growth, and then other drugs are useful for killing remaining tumor cells, or they may die on their own, said Mark Hamann, a professor with the Medical University of South Carolinas Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences and corresponding author on the study.

Success in humans remains to be seen, but it seems very hopeful. The agent would reduce toxic side effects, so thats the greatest utility.

Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia and the University of Malaya in Malaysia analyzed how manzamine A inhibited the growth of cervical, prostate and other cancer cells. They observed that it checked the proliferation of cervical cancer cells but didnt affect non-cancerous ones. Models revealed that while it looks like other inhibitors of cancer, manzamine A has 10 times the effect on a harmful protein associated with it.

If it ends up advancing in the control of cervical cancer, Im certain that it finds applications in other forms of cancer, Hamann said, particularly those characterized by that protein. If produced on a large scale, its a good candidate for modifying and may find utility broadly in infectious diseases.

Now the scientists are further testing and developing the compound which has been shown to cure malaria as well and determining safety, dosage and administration methods. They plan to conduct clinical trials later on patients who havent had any luck with other types of chemotherapy.

Since manzamine A is difficult to create artificially, and sponge aquaculture has proven profitable with bath sponges, Hamann said he recommends growing A. ingens commercially in Indonesian seas to not only obtain the drug but to also improve ecological and economic conditions.

This very desirable fisheries project, he said, would involve hanging sponge cuttings from ropes underwater. The filter feeder, which thrives where water is fairly poor quality and many other species do not survive, could purify contaminated water, buffer unspoiled reefs from pollution, and otherwise enhance the marine ecosystem. And establishing an industry centered on the sponge would supply extra income to Indonesians, help boost their standard of living, and contribute to the countrys economy.

Since the sponge produces this molecule in high yields, and it seems easy to grow, you could grow it in polluted waters near wastewater plants or river mouths along the ocean, and it would potentially grow very well, Hamann said. It would be a promising economic development tool to put sponge culture facilities where theres high nutrient loads to improve water quality and build a business around the manufacture of the drug. Itd have a valuable local impact.

Netty Siahaya, a lecturer at Pattimura Universitys School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and sponge chemicals researcher who wasnt part of this study, emphasized the vast possibilities of substances like manzamine A, which enable sponges themselves to deal with threats such as viruses.

But she said that to get the potential of the sponge as a cancer drug, we can take it at locations estimated to be clean compared to locations with very high activities that are likely polluted. Heavy metals and other contaminants could bind to manzamine A, she said, making it more difficult and expensive to extract.

Like many coastal organisms in Indonesia, sponges have generally declined in recent decades due to habitat-degrading human impacts such as coral extraction and pollution, said Victor Nikijuluw, senior director of Conservation International Indonesias marine program.

Culturing sponges for pharmaceuticals and using sponges to gauge ecosystem health would provide greater impetus for the protection of coral reefs as well as the animals themselves, which perform additional services such as carbon regulation, Siahaya said.

To maintain the existence of sponges, we need to cultivate them and protect aquatic ecosystems, she said.

Nikijuluw agreed that farming A. ingens is a nice idea, especially considering that Indigenous peoples on Indonesias eastern islands have long harvested shallow-water sponges for medicinal and other household purposes. He pointed out the gaping lack of information about Indonesian sponges and their useful properties and stressed tapping into traditional knowledge to learn about them.

Marine conservation planning in Indonesia, he said, should no longer disregard sponges.

Were relying on the biodiversity of corals to decide if a particular site should be conserved, Nikijuluw said. Where you will find a lot of sponge, no corals, if you just focus on coral, you will not conserve The sponge should be included in the reasoning for conservation.

Even if A. ingens turns out to be unfeasible for cancer treatment, it should still be conserved, Nikijuluw suggested, perhaps partly through cultivation for another identified use.

Regardless, he said, if we do not know the benefit of the species to human beings, we cannot conclude that this species doesnt have any function. Right now, science may not disclose those functions, but later, youll understand If it is has no direct benefit to human beings, it has an indirect benefit through the environment.

Citation:

Karan, D., Dubey, S., Pirisi, L., Nagel, A., Pina, I., Choo, Y., & Hamann, M. T. (2020). The marine natural product manzamine A inhibits cervical cancer by targeting the SIX1 protein. Journal of Natural Products, 83(2), 286-295. doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b00577

Banner: The cancer-fighting marine sponge, A. ingens, is prevalent throughout Indonesia, including in Manado Bay. Image by Sakurai Midori.

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The sponge with the secret recipe: A cancer-fighting chemical - Mongabay.com

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