• Breakthrough technique for treating inflammatory disease

    Ground-breaking research from Heriot-Watt University and the University of Texas Medical Branch is set to be commercialized following a funding award from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme. The new research has identified a way of targeting an enzyme called EPAC1, which is involved in the inflammation process and is responsible for many of the most serious yet common chronic diseases.

  • Long-haul COVID to remain with us in foreseeable future

    While a reduction in the number of infections is good news, scientists and doctors are beginning to understand the chronic illness that lingers after COVID infection, called long-haul syndrome. Long-haul patients were infected and appeared to recover, but then chronic symptoms began and remained months after the infection. Extreme fatigue and debilitating brain fog are common symptoms, write Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel of UTMB.

  • Vaccination slots filling up as Texas children ages 5-11 receive first COVID-19 vaccines

    For months, Pearland realtor Gerald Hatter anxiously waitied on news that her 11-year-old daughter Bella Hatter would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, one day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use for children ages 5-11, Bella received her first dose. She is one of 2.9 million children in that younger age group now eligible for the vaccine in Texas. In Galveston, UTMB opened its system for appointments Wednesday afternoon. Within 24 hours, 575 appointments had been scheduled, Jenny Lanier, UTMB’s director of ambulatory operations said. UTMB has as many as 6,000 of the pediatric vaccines available this week, Lanier said, with more coming.

  • For parents in Galveston County, vaccine approval brings a shot of relief

    About 54,000 Galveston County children are younger than age 12 and were ineligible to receive vaccines before the approval. Most now can be inoculated, although studies are still being conducted on the vaccines for children younger than age 5. UTMB, the largest health care provider in the county, said it would begin administering vaccines to younger children.

  • Experts explore how environment affects key cell functions

    The complex relationship between environmental stressors, extracellular vesicles (EVs), and adverse health outcomes was the focus of an NIEHS workshop held Sept. 27-28. Experts discussing the topic included Dr. Ramkumar Menon, from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who described his work analyzing exosomes in the context of premature birth. He used an organ-on-chip device that mimics human biological interactions between fetus and mother. Menon showed that fetal exosomes shuttling the protein HMGBI functioned as a signal to trigger early labor.

  • Opinion: Newsmax forced to admit vaccines don’t make you glow

    Media outlet Newsmax had no choice on Tuesday but to issue two statements that COVID vaccinations are safe and do not contain luciferase after a now-deleted tweet from the company’s White House correspondent. The enzyme is not in the vaccination, but researchers have used luciferase for bioluminescence tracking to study COVID. In July 2020, a report stated that scientists at UTMB were using luciferase to “develop faster and more accurate diagnostic tests for COVID-19 as well as to analyze potential therapies and gain a clearer understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself.”

  • NIH launches study looking at long-term effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy

    The National Institutes of Health has launched a study looking at the long-term effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy. Researchers will recruit 1,500 pregnant patients with COVID-19 and their children and follow them for four years. A recent study from UTMB found babies born to symptomatic mothers were more likely to need respiratory support or be admitted to neonatal intensive care units.

  • New state law on teen violence is welcomed, but councilman hopes to strengthen it

    A new state law sets minimum standards for how schools teach kids about teen dating and family violence, child abuse and sex trafficking. San Antonio City Councilman Manny Pelaez wants to make these lessons mandatory for students in San Antonio and heighten awareness about domestic violence. “Kids right now learn how to be in a relationship through mostly trial and error,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, director of UTMB Center for Violence Prevention. “Conflicts are inevitable in relationships. In fact, I would say they’re healthy. How we resolve those is what matters—some couples do it terribly with violence and other couples do it healthily. We want to teach those kids how to do it in a healthy way.”

  • Ebola vaccines may be deployed in West Africa by January, officials say

    A pair of promising Ebola vaccines could be deployed against the outbreak ravaging three West African nations by January. It's an open question whether any of the vaccines will be available in time and in large enough quantities to do any good. Alan Barrett, director of the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development at UTMB, said that even with a revved-up testing schedule, having a vaccine that would affect this epidemic is unlikely. “It's just not going to be ready in time.”