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Methamphetamine overdose deaths rise sharply nationwide

Researchers propose that humidity from masks may lessen severity of COVID-19

Pregnant women in third trimester unlikely to pass SARS-CoV-2 infection to newborns



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Researchers propose that humidity from masks may lessen severity of COVID-19

Blood test shows promise for early detection of acute heart transplant rejection

Combination treatment for methamphetamine use disorder shows promise in NIH study

NIH study shows hyaluronan is effective in treating chronic lung disease


NIH Most Recent Articles

NIH invests in next iteration of public-private partnership to advance precision medicine research for Alzheimer’s disease

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}The National Institutes of Health has launched the next version of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) Alzheimer’s disease program (AMP AD 2.0) to expand the open science, big data approach for identifying biological targets for therapeutic intervention. AMP AD 2.0 is supporting new technologies, including cutting-edge, single-cell profiling and computational modeling, to enable a precision medicine approach to therapy development. Managed through the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), AMP AD 2.0 brings together NIH, industry, non-profit and other organizations with a shared goal of using open science practices to accelerate the discovery of new drug targets, biomarkers and disease subtypes.“Unraveling the complex biological mechanisms that cause Alzheimer’s disease is critical for therapeutic development,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “AMP AD 2.0 aims to add greater precision to the molecular maps developed in the first iteration of this program. This will identify biological targets and biomarkers to inform new therapeutic interventions for specific disease subtypes.”Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans 65 and older. Because the prevalence of this disease is greater among Black and Latino Americans than among white Americans, AMP AD 2.0 will expand the molecular characterization of Alzheimer’s in brain, blood and spinal fluid samples collected in these diverse populations. These datasets will allow the AMP AD 2.0 research teams to refine the characterization of new targets, discover new fluid biomarkers, define disease subtypes and increase the understanding of causative factors and steps in disease progression. The knowledge gained will inform the development of therapies that can be tailored to different stages of the disease and diverse disease risk profiles.“AMP AD has helped transform the way we learn about the disease process and ide...
NIH     Mar 03, 2021

Law enforcement seizures of methamphetamine and marijuana rose during pandemic

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}An analysis of law enforcement seizures of illegal drugs in five key regions of the United States revealed a rise in methamphetamine and marijuana (cannabis) confiscations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seizures of the two drugs were higher at their peak in August 2020 than at any time in the year prior to the pandemic. While investigators found that trends in heroin, cocaine and fentanyl seizures were not affected by the pandemic, provisional overdose death data show that the increased drug mortality seen in 2019 rose further through the first half of 2020. The findings suggest that the pandemic and its related restrictions may have impacted the availability and demand of some, but not all, illegal drugs, and that availability may have increased in summer and fall of 2020 in the five regions included in this study.The study, published today in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.“At the beginning of the pandemic, it was unclear how social distancing, travel restrictions and economic hardship in communities would impact drug supply and demand,” said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., NIDA director. “Drug seizure data like these give us additional insight into the changing drug use landscape during COVID-19 and may inform our understanding of rising rates of methamphetamine- and opioid-involved overdose deaths during the pandemic.”Measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic have limited social gatherings, closed international borders, and reduced economic activity across many sectors. While provisional data reveal drug overdose deaths have risen during the pandemic, there is little scientific evidence to illuminate the impact of these measures on drug availability and use in the United States.Seeking answers, investigators led by Joseph J. Palamar, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine and ...
NIH     Mar 03, 2021

NIH effort seeks to understand MIS-C, range of SARS-CoV-2 effects on children

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}The National Institutes of Health has launched a new research effort to understand how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, affects children, who account for roughly 13% of the total cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The effort is called the Collaboration to Assess Risk and Identify Long-term Outcomes for Children with COVID (CARING for Children with COVID). This research program is developing and funding studies to investigate why some children are at greater risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection than others, why symptoms vary among children who are infected, and how to identify children at risk for severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Research on the latter question is focused particularly on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a life-threatening condition marked by severe inflammation of one or more parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs.The program is led by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Research conducted through CARING for Children with COVID is supported in part by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.“This effort stems from NIH’s commitment to understanding the spectrum of risk that SARS-CoV-2 poses for children and to identifying interventions to improve their short- and long-term health outcomes,” said NICHD Director and CARING for Children with COVID co-chair Diana Bianchi, M.D.Based on current data, most children with SARS-CoV-2 infection do not develop serious illness. However, those who do go on to develop MIS-C can experience prolonged fever and severe abdominal pain and may progress to shock. Although most children with MIS-C survive, its cause and long-term effects remain largely unknown. T...
NIH     Mar 02, 2021

Statement from NIH and BARDA on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, February 27, 2021

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson for its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, called Ad.26.COV2S or JNJ-78436725. The Janssen vaccine is a recombinant vector vaccine that uses a human adenovirus to express the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that cause infections in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts; the adenovirus vector used in the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has been modified so it no longer can replicate in humans and cause illness. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, supported late-stage clinical testing of the Janssen vaccine. It is the third COVID-19 vaccine in the United States to be granted an EUA by FDA. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D. Ph.D., NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and BARDA Director Gary Disbrow, Ph.D., released the following statements:“This week marked a devastating milestone of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 here in the United States. The loss attributed to the disease is almost unfathomable. To have a third vaccine that meets the expectations of an EUA for safety and effectiveness at preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19 brings us one step closer to protecting the American public, staying ahead of concerning viral variants, and finding our way out of the pandemic. I would like to thank the clinical staff who conducted the clinical trials of the vaccine as well as the thousands of study participants who helped us find the scientific answers necessary to reach this important day.” – NIH Director Francis S. Collin...
NIH     Feb 28, 2021

Study identifies cardiovascular risk factors that may lead to pregnancy problems for first-time moms

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}A new study of first-time pregnant women found risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity and elevated blood sugar, can put expectant moms at higher risk for pregnancy complications and gestational diabetes and also lead to increased chances of high blood pressure, or hypertension, two to seven years after giving birth. The findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association, may assist doctors working with patients to adopt heart-healthy lifestyles or to avoid pregnancy problems, such as preeclampsia or premature birth. Severe pregnancy complications affect more than 50,000 women in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“What we know about high blood pressure is that the earlier you have it, the worse your outcomes for heart disease can be,” said Victoria Pemberton, a study author, nurse, and researcher in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. “If we can change that course and intervene earlier, such as after a woman has an adverse pregnancy outcome, then we’re doing her a great service.”Researchers created the nuMoM2b Heart Health Study, which is supported by the NIH, to examine factors that influence pregnancy outcomes and support the cardiovascular health of new mothers. In this sub-study, researchers followed 4,471 women who had their first child at one of eight U.S. medical centers between 2011 and 2014. About one in two women were overweight or obese at the start of their pregnancy. The researchers monitored the women from the early stages of their pregnancies and stayed in touch, through self-reporting surveys, phone calls, and clinical visits, for up to seven years after the women gave birth.The researchers found that roughly 25% of the study participants, 1,102 women, had a pregnancy complication or developed gestational diabetes. Wom...
NIH     Feb 26, 2021

NIH study finds that people with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies may have a low risk of future infection

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}A single elongated CCL-81 cell heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles. The small spherical structures in the image are SARS-CoV-2 virus particles. The string-like protrusions from the cells are cell projections or pseudopodium. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.NIAIDPeople who have had evidence of a prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, appear to be well protected against being reinfected with the virus, at least for a few months, according to a newly published study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This finding may explain why reinfection appears to be relatively rare, and it could have important public health implications, including decisions about returning to physical workplaces, school attendance, the prioritization of vaccine distribution, and other activities. For the study, researchers at NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health, collaborated with two health care data analytics companies (HealthVerity and Aetion, Inc.) and five commercial laboratories. The findings were published on Feb. 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine.“While cancer research and cancer care remain the primary focus of NCI’s work, we were eager to lend our expertise in serological sciences to help address the global COVID-19 pandemic, at the request of Congress,” said NCI Director Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, M.D., who was one of the coauthors on the study. “We hope that these results, in combination with those of other studies, will inform future public health efforts and help in setting policy.”“The data from this study suggest that people who have a positive result from a commercial antibody test appear to have substantial immunity to SARS-CoV-2, which means they may be at lower risk for future infection,” said Lynne Penberthy, M.D., M.P.H., associate director of NCI’s Surveillance Research Program, who led the study. “Additional research is n...
NIH     Feb 25, 2021

New experiences enhance learning by resetting key brain circuit

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}A study of spatial learning in mice shows that exposure to new experiences dampens established representations in the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, allowing the mice to learn new navigation strategies. The study, published in Nature, was supported by the National Institutes of Health.“The ability to flexibly learn in new situations makes it possible to adapt to an ever-changing world,” noted Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., a senior author on the study and director of the National Institute of Mental Health, part of NIH. “Understanding the neural basis of this flexible learning in animals gives us insight into how this type of learning may become disrupted in humans.”Dr. Gordon co-supervised the research project with Joseph A. Gogos, M.D., Ph.D., and Alexander Z. Harris, M.D., Ph.D., both of Columbia University, New York City.Whenever we encounter new information, that information must be consolidated into a stable, lasting memory for us to recall it later. A key mechanism in this memory consolidation process is long-term potentiation, which is a persistent strengthening of neural connections based on recent patterns of activity. Although this strengthening of neural connections may be persistent, it can’t be permanent, or we wouldn’t be able to update memory representations to accommodate new information. In other words, our ability to remember new experiences and learn from them depends on information encoding that is both enduring and flexible. To understand the specific neural mechanisms that make this plasticity possible, the research team, led by Alan J. Park, Ph.D., of Columbia, examined spatial learning in mice.Spatial learning depends on a key circuit between the ventral hippocampus (a structure located in the middle of the brain) and the medial prefrontal cortex (located just behind the forehead). Connectivity between these brain structures strengthens over the course of spatial learning. If the con...
NIH     Feb 25, 2021

Monoclonal antibodies against MERS coronavirus show promise in Phase 1 NIH-sponsored trial

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}MERS Virus Particles Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus particles (yellow) attached to the surface of an infected VERO E6 cell (blue). Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.NIAIDWhatA randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 1 clinical trial of two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) found that they were well tolerated and generally safe when administered simultaneously to healthy adults. The experimental mAbs, REGN3048 and REGN3051, target the MERS coronavirus (MERS CoV) spike protein used by the virus to attach to and infect target cells. The mAbs were discovered and developed by scientists at the biopharmaceutical company Regeneron, located in Tarrytown, New York. The trial was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.The trial was the first to test the experimental antibodies in people. Conducted at WCCT Global, a clinical trial site in California, the study enrolled 48 healthy adults, 36 of whom received the mAbs. All volunteers were followed for 121 days after receiving mAbs (or placebo) by intravenous infusion. No serious adverse events occurred.In preclinical studies, investigators at Regeneron and the University of Maryland, College Park, also administered REGN3048 and REGN3051 sequentially and in combination to genetically modified mice that, unlike wild-type mice, can be infected with MERS CoV. When administered one day prior to coronavirus exposure, both REGN3048 and REGN3051 reduced the levels of virus later detected in the lungs, with co-administration providing more potent protective effects than either mAb alone. Similarly, co-administering the mAbs one day after MERS CoV exposure provided a therapeutic benefit in mice by lowering viral levels ...
NIH     Feb 24, 2021

Mouse study shows bacteriophage therapy could fight drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}Colorized scanning electron micrograph showing carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae interacting with a human neutrophil.WhatUsing viruses instead of antibiotics to tame troublesome drug-resistant bacteria is a promising strategy, known as bacteriophage or “phage therapy.” Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have used two different bacteriophage viruses individually and then together to successfully treat research mice infected with multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae sequence type 258 (ST258). The bacterium K. pneumoniae ST258 is included on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list of biggest antibiotic resistance threats in the United States. High rates of morbidity and mortality are associated with untreated K. pneumoniae infections.Phage therapy has been pursued for about a century, though conclusive research studies are rare and clinical results — from a handful of reports — have provided mixed results. In the new paper published in the journal mBio, the NIH scientists note that phages are of great interest today because of a dearth of alternative treatment options for drug-resistant infections. Bacterial resistance has emerged against even the newest drug combinations, leaving some patients with few or no effective treatment options.In research conducted in Hamilton, Montana, at Rocky Mountain Laboratories — part of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — and in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, scientists completed a series of studies on research mice infected with ST258. They treated the mice with either phage P1, phage P2, or a combination of the two, all injected at different times following ST258 infection. The scientists had isolated phages P1 and P2 in 2017 from raw sewage that they screened for viruses that would infect ST258 — an indication that phages can be found just about any place. Phages P1 and P2 are vir...
NIH     Feb 23, 2021

NIH funds study to evaluate remdesivir for COVID-19 in pregnancy

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var addthis_config ={ ui_508_compliant: true}A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health will evaluate the effects of remdesivir in pregnant women who have been prescribed the drug to treat COVID-19. The study, which will be conducted at 17 sites in the continental United States and Puerto Rico, aims to determine how pregnant women metabolize the drug and whether there are any potential side effects.“Pregnant women with COVID-19 are at high risk for hospitalization, for intensive care admission and for needing ventilator support,” said Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “There is an urgent need to identify effective treatments for this population and to determine whether drugs prescribed for other adults are appropriate for use in pregnancy.”The study is funded by NICHD, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the National Institute of Mental Health, all part of NIH. Called IMPAACT 2032, the study will be conducted by the NIH-funded International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) Network.Originally developed to treat Ebola and Marburg virus infections, remdesivir was shown in a NIAID-funded clinical trial to accelerate recovery in patients with advanced COVID-19 disease. Remdesivir has since been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults and children over age 12 years.Although it has not been approved specifically for use in pregnancy, remdesivir can be prescribed to pregnant women if their physicians believe the drug may benefit them. However, physicians currently lack scientific evidence for the safety and efficacy of remdesivir for treating pregnant women with COVID-19. Because pregnancy may influence a drug’s effects, IMPAACT 2032 will compare remdesivir use in pregnant and non-pregnant women of reproductive age who are hospitalized with COVID-19.The...
NIH     Feb 17, 2021