Flyover Country fights the pandemic
A special report from:
Making a better UVC ray for COVID sanitizing
Photo by YuGusyeva for Shutterstock
UVC light has been used for decades to sterilize critical areas and sensitive equipment in hospitals.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the technology has seen a surge in usage in areas outside of hospitals. In May, Carnegie Robotics rolled out two robots to clean the Pittsburgh International Airport with UVC rays.
While the benefits of UVC have been proven against pathogens, there have been concerns about its safety, especially now when there are so many inadequate and unsafe devices flooding the market.
For the most part, UVC lights, when used correctly, are safe. But there's a chance that sterilization lights can be harmful to the skin and eyes.
Kansas City's SARIN Energy Solutions, which provides high-grade LED lights for various industries, is now launching UVC Sterilization Germicidal Lights to be used in hotels, restaurants, nursing homes, and many kinds of high-touch places.
SARIN's products contain safety features that prevent accidental exposure to people and animals, and they are in the process of being tested by an independent laboratory. You can see some of the test results here.
Decoy receptors trick COVID-19
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are exploring whether decoy receptors can trick the coronavirus into binding to imposter receptors instead of their intended targets. The ultimate goal is to create a preventative therapy for humans.
The Illinois team, led by assistant professor of biochemistry Erik Procko, has identified a decoy candidate that can bind tightly with the coronaviruses that cause COVID and SARS in primate cells in the lab.
Scientists believe that they’ll one day crack the code for decoy receptors and it’ll make a huge difference. That’s because antibody cocktails designed to fight COVID-19 are vulnerable to the virus’ ability to mutate, making decoy receptors more reliable in the long run.
UK tests COVID-19 vaccine with encouraging results
Preclinical testing of a COVID-19 vaccine has yielded positive results at the University of Kentucky. The candidate, called PDS0203, includes Versamune, a technology developed by PDS Biotech that stimulates the immune system to activate T cells.
According to Jerry Woodward, a UK professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics, who led the preclinical study, “The most effective vaccines stimulate both antibody and T cells because both of those arms of the immune system are important to eliminate different viral infections.” He said that many vaccines stimulate a good antibody response but don’t activate T cells.
He's hopeful that an effective vaccine will be available by the end of the year or early 2021. PDS0203 is expected to advance to a Phase 1 clinical trial soon.
Two doctors and an engineer at Carnegie Mellon recently teamed up to develop an innovative solution to a big problem: The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). The shortage was putting medical professionals at risk for COVID-19, particularly when intubating infected patients.
The solution they came up with was to customize a clear acrylic box that medical workers can reach into to perform procedures without being exposed to infectious fluid. The original box was invented by Taiwanese anesthesiologist Lai Hsien-Yung.
While Hsien-Yung's design has been touted as a good way to protect workers, testing has shown a few issues. The goal of the Carnegie Mellon customization is to address those issues.
Burak Ozdoganlar, a professor of mechanical engineering joined Dr. Atac Turkay of the Heritage Valley Health System, and the system’s director of intensive care services, Dr. Matthew Woodske, are on the team.
University of Kansas launches mobile health app for reopening
To help keep students safe from COVID when school opens this fall, the University of Kansas will use a mobile health app designed with an emphasis on privacy. The app, called CVKey, is the brainchild of Brian McClendon, a former Google vice president and a research professor at KU.
The CVKey app includes an anonymous symptom checker, the latest info about the pandemic, and an app-generated QR code to give users access to campus buildings.
The group plans to provide the app to other universities and organizations. After a successful pilot project, the University of Kansas will reopen to students, faculty, and staff this fall by requiring them to use the app to check for symptoms of the COVID-19 virus before allowing them entrance to campus buildings.
Share stories, offer suggestions, or comment!