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Initial Remdesivir Results

Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced last week that a clinical trial indicated that COVID-19 patients who receive remdesivir recover more quickly from the disease than those who did not receive the drug, Nature News reports. It notes, however, that another trial reported at the same time that there was no benefit from the drug.

The NIAID trial, which included more than 1,000 patients, found that those given remdesivir recovered within an average 11 days, as compared to 15 days for those given placebo, a difference Nature News notes is statistically significant. "Although a 31 percent improvement doesn't seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept," Fauci said during a White House briefing, according to Science News. "It has proven that a drug can block this virus."

As Science News writes, Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, announced that its own study comparing a five-day and a 10-day course of treatment that suggested a short course of treatment could be as beneficial as a longer course. However, Science News notes that that trial lacked a control group that didn't receive the drug.

Conversely, researchers from Peking Union Medical College and elsewhere reported in the Lancet last week that there was no statistically significant clinical benefit associated with remdesivir treatment. Nature News points out, though, that the trial struggled to recruit patients as the outbreak receded in China.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for remdesivir on Friday, according to Bloomberg

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.