Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Duke / 27.03.2020 Interview with: Dr. Rupesh Agrawal, MD Associate Professor Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist Duke-NUS Medical School, What is the background for this study?Wasn't Dr Li Wenliang, the Chinese physician who first alerted his community of coronavirus an opthalmologist, with possible exposure to tears from this surgical work with glaucoma patients?Response: Since the start of the pandemic, there have been multiple reports which suggested the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via ocular fluids. As ophthalmologists, we come into close contact with tears on a daily basis during our clinical examination. Furthermore, many equipment in the clinic like the Goldman tonometer come into direct contact with such ocular fluids, providing a channel for viral transmission. The evidence, as of date, were mainly anecdotal reports included in newspaper articles and media interviews. We wanted to know if the virus can truly be found in tears, so we decided to embark on this study. (more…)
Author Interviews, ENT, Genetic Research, Pediatrics / 02.10.2019 Interview with: Manvendra K Singh PhD Program in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders, Duke-NUS Medical School National Heart Research Institute, National Heart Center Singapore, What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?Response: Craniofacial and cardiovascular abnormalities are the most common defects, contributing to more than one-third of the congenital diseases. Proper formation of these structures involves intricate processes such as proliferation, migration, and differentiation of neural crest cells (NCCs). Functional defects in NCCs result in craniofacial malformations, including cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Many transcription factors, chromatin remodelling factors, non-coding RNA and signalling molecules have been implicated in impaired neural crest development that result in cardio-craniofacial syndromes. However, the cell-autonomous role of splicing regulators in neural crest biology remains unclear and warrants further investigation.(more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Duke, Neurology / 24.09.2019 Interview with: Juan Helen Zhou, PhD, on behalf of the co-authors Associate Professor and Principal Investigator Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders (NBD) Programme Duke-NUS Medical School, SingaporeJuan Helen Zhou, PhD, on behalf of the co-authorsAssociate Professor and Principal Investigator Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders (NBD) Programme Duke-NUS Medical School, What is the background for this study? Response: Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease are among the leading disorders affecting the elderly, with up to 50 per cent of dementia patients showing co-occurrence of both disorders. It is therefore of great interest to understand the influence of co-occurring Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease pathologies on brain changes, and examine if such changes are able to track early differential disease progression. Past cross-sectional studies have suggested that Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular disease pathologies contribute independently to brain functional and structural changes, and cognitive decline.Our study sought to demonstrate the independent contributions of both pathologies to brain functional networks in a longitudinal cohort of mild cognitive impairment patients, often regarded as early stage of the disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dengue, Duke, Vaccine Studies / 21.09.2019 Interview with: Dr Shee-Mei Lok, PhD Professor in the Emerging Infectious Disease program Duke-NUS, a school of National University of What is the background for this study? Response: Dengue virus consists of four different serotypes (DENV1-4) and within each serotypes, there are multiple strains. In terms of the viral particle shape, our previous research work using some laboratory adapted strains showed these DENV2 strains are very interesting in that it can change shape from the smooth spherical surface particles when grown at mosquito physiological temperature (29oC) and then becomes bumpy surfaced particles when incubated at human physiological temperature (37oC). This ability to transform into different virus surface structures helps the virus to escape from the immune system of the human host. Hence understanding the mechanism of how this occur is important for therapeutics and vaccine development. Here we also identified a laboratory adapted virus strain that do not showed this structural changes.We showed some differences in their amino acid sequences and We showed some differences in their amino acid sequences and mutating these residues coupled with observing their surface structures showed which residues are important for this temperature induced structural change. Results showed that subtle mutations at different places on the envelope protein can destabilize the virus allowing them to change in structure when temperature is elevated. Due to the poor selection pressure of the artificial laboratory tissue culture system, gradual mutations of the virus is accumulated causing the virus to have bumpy surface morphology.(more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Nature / 28.02.2019 Interview with: bats-mattaeMatae Ahn,MD-PhD candidate Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme Duke-NUS Medical What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?Response: Bats, as the only flying mammals, are ‘special’ in their ability to host many highprofile viruses without suffering from disease. Such viruses including Ebola virus, Nipah virus and SARS or MERS coronaviruses, are highly pathogenic and often lethal to humans or animals, but yet cause no or minimal disease in bats. In addition, they also live very long relative to their small body size, despite elevated metabolic rates. However, what makes them special is still unclear.In this study, we discovered dampened NLRP3-mediated inflammation in bats in response to both ‘sterile’ stressors and infection with three different types of zoonotic RNA viruses. We identified multiple molecular mechanisms of altered bat NLRP3, a critical regulator of virus-induced and age-related inflammation, as the cause. Importantly, the reduced inflammation had no effect on the viral loads, which suggests enhanced immune tolerance to infection in bats. Bats’ natural ability to dampen stress-related and virusinduced inflammation may be a key mechanism underlying their long lifespans and unique viral reservoir status.(more…)