COVID-19 Scientists have been awarded the 2020 Gold Gas Award

The Golden Gas Award ceremony, held for the ninth time on December 1, 2020, will recognize three teams of scientists whose research has brought great benefits to society. The award committee, chaired by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), includes a bipartisan Congressional Support Group and several science and higher education institutions.

The 2020 winners of the Golden Gas Award highlight the outstanding examples of researchers who have provided scientific answers to federally funded research. COVID-19including the development of vaccines and treatments that have the potential to help cope with the global pandemic.

“By highlighting just a few of the research teams working to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic, we respect the collective work of thousands of scientists and engineers in the United States and around the world,” said Sudip Parikh, CEO. In AAAS.

Although the full impact of innovative research is not yet known, the 2020 Gold Gas Award recipients demonstrate how scientific advances made through basic research can respond to national and global challenges.

Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN), who co-sponsored the Golden Gas Award, said he hoped we would be able to value knowledge more than ever and hope to increase the budget for government-funded programs so that more scientists can succeed. do more to help advance our nation, our world, and our universe. ”

2020 Gold Gas Award winners:

Momentum is a spike

Kizzmekia Corbett, Barney Graham, Emmie de Wit and Vincent Munster

At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), two pairs of in-school researchers – Kizzmekia Corbett and Barney Graham, Emmie de Wit and Vincent Munster – have been working for several years to develop experimental vaccines against coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS. Ongoing research has allowed them to quickly target a vaccine candidate SARS-CoV-2, The virus that causes COVID-19, shortly after the virus genome was sorted by other scientists in January. Using previous research on existing vaccination platforms and structures of partners, including MERS-CoV, Jason McLellan and his team at the University of Texas at Corbett, Graham and Austin, SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was quickly identified and tried to better understand. as a promising vaccination target. Preliminary approval of relevant animal models by de Wit and Munster, and continuous evaluation of MERS vaccine candidates, also facilitated rapid preclinical testing. Thanks to the collaboration of Corbett, Graham, de Wit, Munster, and McLellan, several vaccine candidates are currently participating in Phase 3 clinical trials for their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection in humans.

Winter named after Lama

Jason McLellan and Daniel Wrapp

Jason McLellan, a structural virologist at the University of Texas at Austin, and Daniel Wrapp, a doctoral student in McLella’s lab, created a new antibody by collaborating with researchers at the University of Ghent to bind a specific antibody produced by Lamas to human antibodies. It can bind to the spike protein in the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and prevent the virus from infecting human cells. In the 1990s, scientists discovered that camel doors, a family of animals that enclose llamas, alpacas, and camels, produce a type of antibody called nanobodies. This discovery has helped researchers find ways to use nanobods in the development of promising treatments for various diseases in humans. One way an antibody can disrupt a coronavirus is to bind to key areas in the spike protein. Because of their small size, nanobodies produced by camels can adhere to spike protein where larger antibodies can be blocked. These nanoparticles can be linked to other antibodies, including human antibodies, to enhance their effects on the human immune response.

Since the advent of COVID-19, the McLellan team has been in a good position to quickly map the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and develop a stable version that can be used as a COVID-19 vaccine antigen. Genetic information from this stabilized spike protein, developed jointly with Graham’s laboratory at NIH, has been included in part of current vaccination efforts.

Using previous research on nanobases, the McLellan team also developed an antibody that binds tightly to a key area of ​​the spike protein and prevents it from infecting human cells. Thus, coronavirus studies previously performed in llamas, including one called Glam, have contributed to the development of antibody therapies that have been studied as potential treatments for COVID-19 patients. Among the federal organizations supporting this study are the NIH and the Argonne National Laboratory of the Department of Energy.

Human Immunoma: Small Actions Turn into An Action

James Crowe

For decades, James Crowe and his team at Vanderbilt Vaccine Center have worked to better understand the challenges of the human immune system and are now helping to make rapid progress in the fight against COVID-19. An inventory of the cells, genes and proteins that make up our immune system – the human immune system – offers the potential to adapt the immune response and better protect against disease. Advances in immunology have led to the targeting of monoclonal antibodies, proteins produced in the laboratory that can bind to substances that cause disease in the body. Crowe’s laboratory has developed such antibodies that target viruses that include dang, Ebola, HIV, influenza, norovirus, respiratory companions (RSV), rotavirus, Zika virus, and now SARS-CoV-2. Crowe and his team developed thousands of monoclonal antibodies with blood samples from COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China. After selecting the most promising ones and rapidly testing the virus for animal models, they sent leading candidates to pharmaceutical companies for antibody testing and treatment. This antibody sequence led to the testing of potential therapies in five-phase 3 clinical trials. Among the Federal agencies supporting this study are the NIH and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

About the Golden Gas Award

The Golden Gas Award honors scientists who are considered lonely or obscure when their federally funded work is first carried out, but who bring significant benefits to society. In 2012, a study, a coalition of universities and research organizations, created the Gold Gas Award, which MP Jim Cooper (D-TN) saw as a strong point against major research criticisms such as wasteful federal spending, such as the late Senator William Proxmire. (D-WI) Gold Polar Award.

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