Vaccines can protect against COVID-19 in nonhuman primates, study says

first_imgThis is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.With nearly 5 million confirmed cases globally and more than 300,000 deaths from COVID-19, much remains unknown about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. Two critical questions are whether vaccines will prevent infection with COVID-19, and whether individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected against re-exposure to the virus.Now, a pair of new studies led by researchers at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) suggests the answer to these questions is yes, at least in animal models. Results of these studies were published today in the journal Science.“The global COVID-19 pandemic has made the development of a vaccine a top biomedical priority, but very little is currently known about protective immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said senior author Dan H. Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC. “In these two studies, we demonstrate in rhesus macaques that prototype vaccines protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection and that SARS-CoV-2 infection protected against re-exposure.”In the first study, the team found that six candidate DNA vaccines — each formulation using a different variant of the key viral protein — induced neutralizing antibody responses and protected against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques.Barouch and colleagues, who began working toward a COVID-19 vaccine in mid-January when Chinese scientists released the SARS-CoV-2 genome, developed a series of candidate DNA vaccines expressing variants of the spike protein, the part used by the virus to invade human cells and a key target for protective antibodies. The vaccines are designed to train the body’s immune system to recognize the virus swiftly upon exposure and respond quickly to disable it.To assess the efficacy of the vaccines, the researchers immunized 25 adult rhesus macaques with the investigational vaccines. Ten animals received a sham version as a control group.  Vaccinated animals developed neutralizing antibodies against the virus. Three weeks after a booster vaccination, all 35 animals were exposed to the virus. Follow-up testing revealed dramatically lower viral loads in vaccinated animals, compared with the control group. Eight of the 25 vaccinated animals demonstrated no detectable virus at any point following exposure to the virus, while the other animals showed low levels of virus. Moreover, animals that had higher antibody levels had lower levels of the virus, a finding that suggests neutralizing antibodies may be a reliable marker of protection and may prove useful as a benchmark in clinical testing of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The vaccines are designed to train the body’s immune system to recognize the virus swiftly upon exposure and respond quickly to disable it. Team at Harvard plans to launch clinical trial in fall How far are we from a vaccine? Depends on who ‘we’ is A multipronged attack against a shared enemy In the second study, the team demonstrated that macaques that recovered from COVID-19 developed natural protective immunity against re-infection with the virus. The results shed much-needed light on the critical question of just how much, if any, immunity does infection with SARS-CoV-2 provide against subsequent encounters with the virus.“Individuals who recover from many viral infections typically develop antibodies that provide protection against re-exposure, but not all viruses generate this natural protective immunity,” said Barouch, who is also professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a co-leader of the vaccine development group of the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness,   and a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.After exposing nine adult macaques to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the researchers monitored viral levels as the animals recovered. All nine animals recovered and developed antibodies against the virus. More than a month after initial infection, the team re-exposed the rhesus macaques to the virus. Upon second exposure, the animals demonstrated near-complete protection against the virus.  These data suggest that animals develop natural protective immunity against the virus and the disease that it causes.“Our findings increase optimism that the development of COVID-19 vaccines will be possible,” said Barouch. “Further research will be needed to address the important questions about the length of protection as well as the optimal vaccine platforms for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for humans.”Future studies will test the Ad26 based vaccines that Barouch is developing in partnership with Johnson & Johnson. ‘Faster protection with less material’ Barouch’s co-authors included Jingyou Yu, Lisa H. Tostanosi, Lauren Peter, Noe B. Mercado, Katherine McMahan, Shant H. Mahrokhian, Joseph P. Nkolola, Jinyan Liu, Zhenfeng Li, Abishek Chandrashekar, Esther A. Bondzie, Gabriel Dagotto, Makda S. Gebre, Xuan He, Catherine Jacob-Dolan, Marinela Kirilova, Nicole Kordana, Zijin Lin, Lori F. Maxfield, Felix Nampanya, Ramy Nityanandam, John D. Ventura, Amanda J. Martinot, Lauren Peter, Peter Abbink, Michelle A. Lifton, and Huahua Wan of BIDMC; David R. Martinez and Ralph S. Baric of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Carolin Loos, Caroline Atyeo, Stephanie Fischinger, John S. Burke, Aaron G. Schmidt, Galit Alter and Matthew D. Slein of Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard; Yuezhou Chen, Adam Zuiani, Felipe J.N. Lelis, Meghan Travers, Duane R. Wesemann and Shaghayegh Habibi of Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Laurent Pessaint, Alex Van Ry, Jack Greenhouse, Tammy Taylor, Kelvin Blade, Renita Brown, Anthony Cook, Brad Finneyfrock, Alan Dodson, Elyse Teow, Hanne Anderson, Mark G. Lewis and Jason Velasco of Bioqual; Roland Zahn and Frank Wegmann of Janssen Vaccines and Prevention BV; Yongfei Cai and Bing Chen of Children’s Hospital Boston; Zoltan Maliga and Peter K. Sorger of Harvard Medical School; Michael Nekorchuk, Kathleen Busman-Sahay, Margaret Terry and Jacob D. Estes of Oregon Health &Science University; LindaM. Wrijil and Sarah Ducat of Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine; and Andrew D. Miller of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.The authors declare no competing financial interests.These studies were supported by the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; Mark and Lisa Schwartz Foundation; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Janssen Vaccines & Prevention BV; the National Institutes of Health (grants OD024917, AI129797, AI124377, AI128751, AI126603 to D.H.B.; AI135098 to A.J.M.; AI007387 to L.H.T.; AI007151 to D.R.M.; AI146779 to A.G.S.; 272201700036I-0- 759301900131-1, AI100625, AI110700, AI132178, AI149644, AI108197 to R.S.B.; CA225088 to P.K.S.;OD011092, OD025002 to J.D.E.; and AI121394, AI139538 to D.R.W.; Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Award; Fast Grant, Emergent Ventures, Mercatus Center at George Mason University.center_img Global race to a COVID-19 vaccine Harvard scientists take various approaches in the race for a treatment for the deadly coronavirus Former Chan School Dean Bloom assesses where efforts stand and the challenges ahead How a new vaccine adjuvant might eventually help to shorten the race to COVID-19 immunity Relatedlast_img read more

Thousands left homeless by storms, floods in Syria’s Idlib

first_imgIDLIB, Syria (AP) — The U.N. says a rainstorm hitting the last rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria has killed one child and destroyed hundreds of tents, leaving tens of thousands of internally displaced people homeless. Residents of the region spoke on Friday about harsh weather conditions that forced some of them to stay out in the open until they fixed their tents. The storm is the second to hit the region in two weeks and international aid groups have warned that reduced humanitarian access to northwestern Syria will impede response to the effects of the storm in a region already suffering from shortage of humanitarian aid.last_img

No. 16 Syracuse drops 1st major test in homestand, 77-73, to NC State

first_imgOn Tuesday morning, Quentin Hillsman laid out the blueprint to beat North Carolina State. Behind him, his players practiced it. Shooters lofted 3-pointers on a side court after practice as Hillsman talked about the importance of a high-paced tempo. Minutes before he walked out of the tunnel for Wednesday night’s contest, Hillman repeated the same message. For two quarters, his team executed. And for two quarters, it faltered. The latter sinking No. 16 Syracuse (18-6, 7-4 Atlantic Coast) against No. 12 North Carolina State (22-2, 13-2), 77-73, in the Carrier Dome. SU pressed the entire game, shot 37.5 percent from 3 and scored nearly 20 more points than the best defense in the ACC allows per game (56.5). Yet, the pace slowed in the second half and the Wolfpack benefited. Syracuse has been inconsistent against ranked opponents, pairing terrific showings with abysmal shooting nights. Wednesday night was different. Days after its best offensive performance of the season (96 points) against Boston College, SU executed its deep ball offense but went 14-of-39 from inside the arc. Postgame, multiple players said SU let a ‘W’ slip away. Hillsman questioned his rotation. NC State, lacking one starter, established the balanced scoring SU has predicated the 2019 season on. “They kind of played the game at the pace they wanted to play,” Hillsman said. “…Early, I thought we did a solid job. … In the second half, we didn’t really make shots.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnna Henderson | Digital Design EditorMiranda Drummond kick-started the first with an uncontested 3. The Orange continuously fired from deep, attempting 10 3s in the frame. Syracuse played its style — shooting, running, pressing — and NC State initially obliged.NC State clanked its deep tries. Syracuse’s press forced tipped passes and turnovers. After one giveaway, Emily Engstler drove the lane, turned and dished it to Drummond for a 3. The visitors called a timeout, and Hillsman walked onto the court while shaking his fist.NC State’s offense continued to pass the ball in-and-out of the paint, taking contested 3s early in possessions when its bigs couldn’t get positioning. Eventually, the Wolfpack’s shots fell. In the second quarter, junior guard Aislinn Konig — who entered the game with a 40.0 shooting percentage from behind the arc — knocked down a step back over Gabrielle Cooper. A few possessions later, after four missed NC State 3s in-a-row, it pushed inside.On some possessions, Wolfpack guards held the ball on the wings and waited for the weak-side player to cut, creating multiple looks. Others, NC State beat SU up the floor in transition. Hillsman called out passing lanes and shouted at SU defenders, telling them to drop closer to the rim. Late in the half, the Orange defense fed off a Raven Fox field goal and drew two turnovers with their press. Tiana Mangakahia ended the half with a 3 off a high-screen and gave SU a 37-35 lead at the break.While the Carrier Dome crowd stood and clapped, waiting for SU to make its first bucket in the third, Kiara Leslie notched a three from each side of the court, flipping the score. The Orange answered with two 3s of their own. But despite SU’s efficient shooting, NC State’s sustained success inside proved the difference.NC State guards repeatedly lofted passes to forward Elissa Cunane. Hillsman said the Wolfpack used double-block action to create space in the second half, letting Cunane score 22 in her first start. Postgame, Hillsman said he could’ve played Engstler (11 minutes) or Marie-Paule Fopposssi more. “We gotta do a better job of trying to control the paint,” Hillsman said. “… They just kind of overpowered us.”The Wolfpack took advantage with timely 3s when Syracuse hedged the paint. As the margin widened, Hillsman told his team that NC State was winning with its game plan. He also told Mangakahia to take over. Mangakahia scored Syracuse’s first five points of the fourth quarter. She assigned herself with stopping Leslie, who finished with six 3s. SU pivoted away from the paint on offense, utilizing pick-and-rolls with its star guard.  With a half-court steal, hesitation shot and lay-in, Mangakahia cut the deficit to two. But after another steal and foul, she split the free throws. She shook her head after the first attempt careened off iron. Mangakahia finished with 25 points in 38 minutes, but couldn’t consistently beat the top scoring defense in the ACC. The Wolfpack inched away with from the line, tallying 17 makes to the Orange’s nine. Repeatedly, the SU’s fans and bench rose with extended arms, complaining about whistles. In half-court sets down the stretch, red jerseys drove past white and flicked assists to open forwards, who were then fouled. Two more eventual Leslie free throws iced it.Two weeks ago, Hillsman stated his team’s initial goal: Be a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, and therefore, host a first-round matchup. When the NCAA released a rank of which teams currently held the top-16 slots on Monday, the Orange were left off the list.Wednesday night’s opportunity against preemptive two-seed North Carolina State opened a four-game home stretch that if SU swept, it would pave the road to a March contest in the Carrier Dome. After SU’s second loss in its last three home games, Hillsman still didn’t rule out hosting. But he acknowledged Syracuse harmed its chance. “This was a great opportunity to beat a ranked team on our home court,” Hillsman said. “… We just gotta win games. We understand what the urgency is.” Published on February 13, 2019 at 9:00 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img read more

Etihad Aviation Group announces President and CEO transition process

first_imgEtihad Aviation Group announces President and CEO transition processThe Etihad Aviation Group Board of Directors today announced that James Hogan will step down as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company in the second half of 2017.  The Board and Mr. Hogan first initiated the transition process last year with the formation in May of the Etihad Aviation Group, a diversified global aviation and travel organisation.Commenting on Mr. Hogan’s time at Etihad, H.E. Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Board of the Etihad Aviation Group said: “We are very grateful to James.  In just ten years, he has overseen the growth of the company from a 22 plane regional carrier into a 120 aircraft global airline and aviation group, with seven airline equity partnerships which together serve more than 120 million guests every year.  It is a business which has set new benchmarks for service and innovation.  Under his leadership, the company has provided new opportunities for thousands of Emiratis and has been a critical element in the remarkable progress of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.  We look forward to James’ continued association with Abu Dhabi in new ways.”James Hogan commented: “Along with the Board and my 26,000 colleagues, I am very proud of what we have built together at Etihad and of the company’s substantial contribution to the UAE and to the development of Abu Dhabi.  The last decade has seen incredible results but this only represents a first chapter in the story of Etihad.”Commenting on current priorities for the business, H.E. Mazrouei said: “To position the company for continued success in a challenging market, the Board and management team will continue an ongoing, company-wide strategic review.   We must ensure that the airline is the right size and the right shape.  We must continue to improve cost efficiency, productivity and revenue.  We must progress and adjust our airline equity partnerships even as we remain committed to the strategy.”Last month, Etihad Airways unveiled plans to create a new European leisure airline group in a joint venture with TUI AG. A new codeshare agreement with Lufthansa and an aircraft leasing agreement between airberlin and Lufthansa were also announced.  As a minority shareholder, Etihad is actively participating in the next phase of Alitalia’s restructuring plan.H.E. Mazrouei added: “Etihad is a great business with strong fundamentals and a deeply experienced aviation and airline management team.  These assets, along with a realigned organisation, provide more agility and added focus as Etihad enters the next phase of its development.”Mr. Hogan will join an investment company along with Etihad Aviation Group CFO James Rigney, who will also leave the company later this year.  A global search for a new Group CEO and a new Group CFO is already underway.The Group has developed a senior management structure with strength in depth, led by a highly-regarded senior team.  This team includes Peter Baumgartner, CEO, and Richard Hill, COO, of Etihad Airways; Bruno Matheu as CEO of Airline Equity Partners; and Jeff Wilkinson as CEO of Etihad Airways Engineering.  Darren Peisley is Acting Managing Director of Hala, the company’s destination marketing and global loyalty unit. A further strengthening of the Group structure was announced earlier this month with the creation of Etihad Airport Services led by Managing Director Chris Youlten.In addition, the Group Chiefs leading the core corporate functions include Kevin Knight, Strategy and Planning; Ray Gammell, People and Performance; Rob Webb, Technology and Innovation; and Harsh Mohan, Executive Affairs.Notable Highlights: 2006–2016Mr. Hogan took the helm at Etihad Airways in 2006, with a mandate to develop a safe, best-in-class airline, operating on a sustainable commercial basis and contributing to the future economic success of Abu Dhabi.The Group operates on a core commitment to safety.  The airline has had a 100 per cent safety record under Mr Hogan and was recognised in January 2017 as one of the ten safest airlines in the world.Its core airline operation today serves 18.5 million guests, reaching 112 destinations with a fleet of 120 aircraft, with another 178 on order.  It has been named WTA’s World’s Leading Airline for each of the last eight years and was recently recognised by Skytrax as one of just nine five-star airlines in the world.  It won the prestigious Air Transport World Airline of the Year award in 2016.Its strategy of minority equity investments in key strategic partners – Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, airberlin, Alitalia, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia – has created the world’s seventh largest airline grouping, serving more than 120 million passengers a year, with a fleet of more than 700 aircraft reaching almost 350 unique destinations.The airline’s codeshare and equity partnerships are a core element of its growth, delivering 5.5 million passengers onto Etihad Airways’ flights in 2016.Etihad Aviation Group’s diversified operations now cover a range of businesses, each of which is significant in its own right.  They include Etihad Cargo, Etihad Engineering, Hala Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airport Services, Etihad Flight College and the Global Loyalty Company, which is bringing together a range of frequent flyer programmes, in addition to the core Etihad Airways operation.The Group now has more than 26,000 employees.  Its award-winning Emiratisation programmes, for roles including Cadet Pilots, Technical Engineers and Graduate Managers, have helped increase the number of Emirati employees from less than 100 when Mr Hogan joined to more than 3,000 today.It is estimated that during 2016, the Group delivered a core economic contribution of more than $9.6 billion to Abu Dhabi; this is expected to grow to $18.2 billion by 2024.  It works closely with the Tourism & Culture Authority, as well as other key stakeholders, in developing Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a world class destination for business and leisure travellers.About Etihad Aviation GroupEtihad Aviation Group (EAG) is a diversified global aviation and travel group comprising five business divisions – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways Engineering, Etihad Airport Services, Hala Group and Airline Equity Partners. The group has minority investments in seven airlines: airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, and Swiss-based Darwin Airline, trading as Etihad Regional.From its Abu Dhabi base, Etihad Airways flies to, or has announced plans to serve, more than 110 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. The airline has a fleet of over 120 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with 204 aircraft on firm order, including 71 Boeing 787s, 25 Boeing 777Xs, 62 Airbus A350s and 10 Airbus A380s. For more information, please visit: etihad.comSource = Etihad Aviation Grouplast_img read more