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Trials Figure Out Paths Forward Despite Pandemic

An Alzheimer's disease drug trial is forging ahead even with the difficulties raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, NPR reports.

The AHEAD trial, it adds, is studying whether a drug from the pharmaceutical company Eisai called BAN2401 reduces the amount of amyloid protein within Alzheimer's disease patients' brains, and patients have to undergo PET scans to gauge any changes in amyloid or tau protein levels in their brains.

That means, NPR notes, that participants have to make frequent trips to the hospital, which could increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19. Because of this, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, who are involved in the study, tell it that they've adopted a number of safety precautions, such as daily screenings for staff, spaced-out participant visits, use of personal protective equipment, and extra cleaning. 

"I've just been completely, totally inspired by the people enrolled in these studies, the majority of whom really want us to push ahead," Irvine's Joshua Grill tells NPR. He notes, though, that some participants have dropped out due to the risk of infection.

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.