Our scientists and the corona crisis
Researchers from the UG are sharing their knowledge and doing extensive research into COVID-19 and the corona crisis from many different angles. Here is a selection of articles about recent research.
Why SARS-CoV-2 spreads much faster than SARS-CoV and why different populations respond differently to the virus
Dr. Muhamed Amin (University College Groningen) and collaborators from British University in Egypt have used computer simulation to explain the strong spread of SARS-CoV-2 compared to SARS-CoV, which appeared in 2003. The simulations show that the electrostatic attraction between the cell and the virus is stronger for SARS-CoV-2 due to few mutations in the protein responsible for binding the cell. This study has been published in the Journal of physical chemistry letters of the American Chemical Society.
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Furthermore, computer simulations also showed that different populations respond differently to the virus due to the mutations in the cell receptors. For example, the simulations show that the virus binds tighter to the cell in European than African population. This study has been published in Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports.
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RNA structures of coronavirus reveal potential drug targets
10 November - The SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome structure was studied in detail by researchers from the University of Groningen, the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, and Leiden University. The RNA structures are potential targets for the development of drugs against the virus.
The study, coordinated by UG Dr Danny Incarnato, involved RNA structure probing to obtain single-base resolution secondary structure maps of the full SARS-CoV-2 genome both in vitro and in living infected cells. Importantly, this is the first time that the structure of the entire coronavirus RNA (one of the longest viral RNAs with approximately 30,000 nucleotides) was determined.
The results were published on 10 November as ‘Breakthrough paper’ in the journal Nucleic Acid Research.
Corona booklet AJSPH - time capsule of the first wave
20 October - For the AJSPH, the corona period is a special time. As a School of Public Health, we have therefore chosen to focus our energy on supporting the public debate, underpinning and designing policy and initiating new research through the knowledge and expertise of the University of Groningen, UMCG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Coordinators and fellows of the AJSPH have been continuously visible in the public debate. The reflections of these researchers are bundled into a booklet, a a time capsule of the first wave.
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First responses to the coronavirus pandemic are lessons for the second wave and the climate crisis
13 October - The sometimes powerful responses of citizens and governments at the start of the coronavirus pandemic could be a good starting point when it comes to battling global crises such as the environmental and climate crisis, and possibly the second wave of the coronavirus.
Thijs Bouman and Stevin Prize winner Linda Steg (both UG) and Thomas Dietz (Michigan State University) argued in their publication in Nature Sustainability that personal standards play an important role in displaying prosocial behaviour.
Not enough savings ro ride out the pandemic
5 October 2020 - A lot of families and companies do not have enough savings to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. Economist Dirk Bezemer is a worried man. ‘Dramatic situations will develop when the government support packages are discontinued. If we don’t change our economy and financial system now, the multinationals will be protected while families on social assistance won’t.’
Ethical framework for equitable global COVID-19 vaccine distribution
4 September 2020 - Philosopher Lisa Herzog was member of an international research team that wrote the article An Ethical Framework for Global Vaccine Allocation (Science, 3 September). The team has researched how a corona virus vaccine can be distributed around the world fairly and equitably. Everybody acknowledges the importance of an equitable distribution of a vaccine, and many recognize that ethics is a central factor in the decision-making around it. However, so far nobody has provided a systematic framework or recommendations.
UG researchers will look at Covid-19 impact on hospital staff’s well-being
1 September 2020 - What is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the psychosocial and emotional well-being of hospital staff? Which factors contribute to this well-being? And what can a hospital do to make sure that their staff is more equipped to deal with this or another crisis? Faculty of Economics and Business researchers Dr Joost van de Brake, Dr Peter Essens, Maxim Laurijssen and Prof. Gerben van der Vegt will start a new research project in September to look at these questions.
Substantial € 450,000 subsidy for UMCG research into role of overweight in COVID-19 cases
27 August 2020 - The Intensive Care Unit of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) has received a substantial subsidy of € 450,000 from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW). The funds will be used to research why COVID-19 patients in IC wards are often more overweight than both patients who are not admitted to the IC and IC patients with other illnesses. In addition, it will be investigated as to whether the serious inflammation, including inflammation of the lungs, that COVID-19 patients may develop can be treated with the drug Resveratrol.
UG researchers help improve coordination around ICU bed utilization
24 August 2020 - The recent corona pandemic has shown us that we can quickly reach the maximum ICU bed capacity and that the supply of medical equipment can be largely disrupted. Faculty of Economics and Business researchers Taco van der Vaart, Paul Buijs and Gerdien Regts will look into the role that national and regional coordination can have to manage such scarcity.
More often complications in kidney patients with corona
11 August 2020 - Kidney dialysis and kidney transplant patients infected with the coronavirus are more prone to serious complications and have a higher risk of death. This is part of the first results of research by UMCG, Radboudumc and Amsterdam UMC, led by Ron Gansevoort, professor of Nephrology (UMCG).
Virus assembly has been filmed
Spanish and Dutch researchers discovered how the HIV/AIDS virus is formed
Scientists in Groningen and Madrid have managed to capture unique images of the first steps of virus assembly. By using a very fast scanning probe microscope, they were able to film how HIV proteins begin to form a virus. It appears that the virus forming process does not proceed in a very orderly manner.
Northern Netherlands carefully anticipating second wave
20 July 2020 - Even though they miss their freedom, gezelligheid and spontaneous fun, the inhabitants of the Northern Netherlands are careful when making their holiday plans for this summer. Only 14% of the Northern Dutch are going on holiday abroad this summer, compared to 60% in other years. If the expected second wave hits the Northern Netherlands, 84% will support new lockdown measures.
New Open Access review on Sars-CoV-2 in Chem
10 July 2020 - Professor Alexander Dömling (Drug Design, Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy) and his PhD student Li Gao published an open access review in Chem (Cell Press).
In this article they give an overview of the current knowledge of the spread, disease course, and molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, potential treatment developments in the context of recent outbreaks, drug repurposing, and development timelines are discussed.
National research into the effects of corona in nursing homes
29 June 2020- Nursing homes should be given room to determine their own visitor regulations. These and other recommendations come from research carried out by the UMCG and Leiden UMC.
Scientists identify potential drug target in the new coronavirus
22 June 2020 - UG scientists, together with colleagues from the IIMCB in Warsaw (Poland) and the Leiden UMC, have identified putative drug targets in the RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that is causing the current pandemic. Their results, which still have to undergo peer review, show which portions of the genetic material would be promising drug targets.
Ernst ziektebeloop COVID-19 deels erfelijk bepaald
19 June 2020 - Genetisch onderzoek wijst uit dat er plekken in het DNA zijn die mede bepalen hoe ziek iemand wordt van een coronavirusinfectie. Dat blijkt uit een groot internationaal onderzoek, waar ook het onderzoeksproject van het UMCG, de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen en biobank Lifelines aan heeft bijgedragen. De resultaten van het onderzoek zijn vandaag gepubliceerd in het gerenommeerde wetenschappelijke tijdschrift New England Journal of Medicine.
Preclinical tests on novel Covid-19 vaccines
The research group Molecular Immunology and Microbiology headed by Prof.dr. Geert van den Bogaart collaborates with the German company BaseClick to pre-clinically test new RNA-based coronavirus vaccines. For this, isolated immune cells from blood of healthy volunteers are studied to determine whether the vaccines correctly initiate the anti-viral immune response. This research specifically focuses on the activation of T-cells to recognize the Covid-19 virus.
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Leadership during the crisis: masculine or feminine leader?
08 June 2020 - Aan wat voor soort leiderschap heeft men ten tijden van de coronacrisis het meeste behoefte? Uit recent onderzoek van Expertisecentrum In the LEAD komt naar voren dat we het meest tevreden zijn met leiders die zowel masculiene als feminiene kenmerken heeft: androgyn leiderschap.
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Apps to trace COVID-19? Let’s get it right with lessons from humanitarian work
02 June 2020 - Contact-tracing apps can be helpful in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, data protection and privacy concerns arise. In their latest article Andrej Zwitter and Oskar Gstrein assess focus on data responsibility and on the dangers of data misuse such as through rushed implementation of digital contact tracing apps.
Two months and 1 million more answers: the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Northerners
Insight from the Lifelines Corona Barometer
02 June 2020 - While Northerners were frequently stressed at the beginning of April, they began to experience less worry and tension by the end of May. Now, they are sleeping better than they were at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and fewer people are afraid of losing their jobs.
The Lifelines Corona Research Project has surveyed 50,000 Northerners on their health and wellbeing every week since the coronavirus measures were put in place. Insight into this data can now be obtained via www.CoronaBarometer.nl
|Last modified:||23 November 2020 09.59 a.m.|