Studying viral outbreaks in single cells could reveal new ways to defeat them

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Many viruses, including HIV and influenza A, mutate so quickly that identifying effective vaccines or treatments is like trying to hit a moving target. A better understanding of viral propagation and evolution in single cells could help. Today, scientists report a new technique that can not only identify and quantify viral RNA in living cells, but also detect minor changes in RNA sequences that might give viruses an edge or make some people “superspreaders.”

The researchers will present their results at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo.

“For studying a new virus like SARS-CoV-2, it’s important to understand not only how populations respond to the virus, but how individuals—either people or cells—interact with it,” says Laura Fabris, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “So we’ve focused our efforts on studying viral replication in single cells, which in the past has been technically

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How to make Joe go viral

How does a campaign take a 77-year-old man — who admits he needs his granddaughter’s help with his cellphone and pitches himself as sober and reasonable — and make him go viral?

That perplexing challenge has become a consuming focus of Joe Biden’s campaign as it tries to finally up its digital game to compete against a challenger who not only understands intuitively how to generate clicks and buzz — but boasts a massive and sophisticated digital operation to amplify his message.

So far, Biden’s paltry digital team of about 25 people has decided mostly to eschew the combative fare preferred by the president’s campaign in favor of uplifting content designed to inspire. The rub, as no one understands better than Trump, is that the social media platforms — and the algorithms that power them — reward bombast and conflict. Amid the collage of newly published saccharine videos posted on

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