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SARS-CoV-2 Hijacks Nanotubes to Enter Neurons

COVID-19 often leads to neurological symptoms, such as a loss of taste or smell, or cognitive impairments. But, how SARS-CoV-2 enters the brain has remained…

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How SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to neurological symptoms, and how the virus gains access to neurons, is unclear. When infecting other cells, the virus binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, and enters through endocytosis. However, ACE2 is almost undetectable in the brain.

COVID-19 often leads to neurological symptoms, such as a loss of taste or smell, or cognitive impairments (including memory loss and concentration difficulties), both during the acute phase of the disease and “long COVID.”

SARS-CoV-2 viral particles (in dark blue) inside and on the surface of a nanotube. Cryo-electron tomography images segmented using Amira software. [Anna Pepe, Institut Pasteur]

Now, scientists have used state-of-the-art electron microscopy approaches to demonstrate how SARS-CoV-2 enters neurons. The findings suggest that the virus hijacks nanotubes—tiny bridges that link infected cells with neurons. These transient, dynamic, structures are a result of membrane fusion in distant cells. They enable the exchange of cellular material without the need for membrane receptors—the normal means of entering and exiting the cytoplasm. The virus is, therefore, able to penetrate neurons despite the fact that they are lacking the ACE2 receptor that the virus usually binds to when infecting cells.

This work is published in Science Advances, in the paper, “Tunneling nanotubes provide a route for SARS-CoV-2 spreading.

Although the human cell receptor ACE2 serves as a gateway for SARS-CoV-2 to enter lung cells—the main target of the virus—and cells in the olfactory epithelium, it is not expressed by neurons. But viral genetic material has been found in the brains of some patients, which explains the neurological symptoms that characterize acute or long COVID. The olfactory mucosa has previously been suggested as a route to the central nervous system, but that does not explain how the virus is able to enter neuronal cells themselves.

According to this new study, SARS-CoV-2 is also thought to be capable of inducing the formation of nanotubes between infected cells and neurons, as well as among neurons, which would explain how the brain is infected from the epithelium.

The research team revealed multiple viral particles located both inside and on the surface of nanotubes. Since the virus spreads more rapidly and directly from within nanotubes than by exiting one cell to move to the next via a receptor, this mode of transmission, therefore, contributes to the infectious capacity of SARS-CoV-2 and its spread to neuronal cells. The virus also moves on the external surface of nanotubes, where it can be guided more quickly to cells that express compatible receptors.

“Nanotubes can be seen as tunnels with a road on top,” suggested Chiara Zurzolo, MD, PhD, head of the Institut Pasteur’s Membrane Traffic and Pathogenesis Unit, “which enable the infection of nonpermissive cells like neurons but also facilitate the spread of infection between permissive cells.”

This publication combines research on in vitro cultures, showing that healthy neuronal cells are infected if they come into contact with infected cells, with the use of state-of-the-art microscopy tools. The Titan Krios microscope in the Institut Pasteur’s NanoImaging Core Facility offers unprecedented resolution of biological samples and nanomolecules that is closer to real biological conditions. “With this instrument, novel imaging approaches have been developed to evaluate the structure of SARS-CoV-2 and the architecture of nanotubes,” explained Anna Pepe, PhD, from the Institut Pasteur’s Membrane Traffic and Pathogenesis Unit.

Working in cooperation with the Institut Pasteur’s Ultrastructural BioImaging Core Facility, the research teams used precise investigative methods to detect structures in the nanotubes that were subsequently identified as “virus factories.” The nanotubes between neurons represent a propitious environment for SARS-CoV-2 to develop, since it is invisible to the immune system. Zurzolo believes that “it may represent a mechanism for immune evasion and viral persistence that could be favorable to the virus.”

This study paves the way for further research on the role of cell-to-cell communication in the spread of SARS-CoV-2. It also encourages exploration of alternative therapeutic approaches to hinder the spread of SARS-CoV-2, alongside current projects that are mainly focused on blocking entry via the ACE2 receptor.

The post SARS-CoV-2 Hijacks Nanotubes to Enter Neurons appeared first on GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

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Federal Food Stamps Program Hits Record Costs In 2022

Federal Food Stamps Program Hits Record Costs In 2022

In early January, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board warned that one peril of a…

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Federal Food Stamps Program Hits Record Costs In 2022

In early January, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board warned that one peril of a large administrative state is the mischief agencies can get up to when no one is watching.

Specifically, they highlight the overreach of the Agriculture Department, which expanded food-stamp benefits by evading the process for determining benefits and end-running Congressional review.

Exhibit A in the over-reach is the fact that the cost of the federal food stamps program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased to a record $119.5 billion in 2022, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

Food Stamp costs have literally exploded from $60.3 billion in 2019, the last year before the pandemic, to the record-setting $119.5 billion in 2022.

In 2019, the average monthly per person benefit was $129.83 in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That increased by 78 percent to $230.88 in 2022.

Even more intriguing is the fact that the number of participants had increased from 35.7 million in 2019 to 41.2 million in 2022...

All of which is a little odd - the number of people on food stamps remains at record highs while the post-COVID-lockdown employment picture has improved dramatically...

Source: Bloomberg

If any of this surprises you, it really shouldn't given that 'you, the people' voted for the welfare state. However, as WSJ chided: "abuse of process doesn’t get much clearer than that."

In its first review of USDA, the GAO skewered Agriculture’s process for having violated the Congressional Review Act, noting that the “2021 [Thrifty Food Plan] meets the definition of a rule under the [Congressional Review Act] and no CRA exception applies. Therefore, the 2021 TFP is subject to the requirement that it be submitted to Congress.” GAO’s second report says “officials made this update without key project management and quality assurance practices in place.”

Abuse of process doesn’t get much clearer than that. The GAO review won’t unwind the increase, which requires action by the USDA. But the GAO report should resonate with taxpayers who don’t like to see the politicization of a process meant to provide nutrition to those in need, not act as a vehicle for partisan agency staffers to impose their agenda without Congressional approval.

All of this undermines transparency and accountability for a program that provided food stamps to some 41 million people in 2021. The Biden Administration is using the cover of the pandemic to expand the entitlement state beyond what Congress authorized.

The question now is, will House Republicans draw attention to this lawlessness and use their power of the purse to stop it to the extent possible with a Democratic Senate.

And don't forget, the US economy is "strong as hell."

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/28/2023 - 09:55

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A Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Adult Favorite Has Not Come Back

The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn’t been brought back.

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The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn't been brought back.

In the early days of Royal Caribbean Group's (RCL) - Get Free Report return from its 15-month covid pandemic shutdown, cruising looked a lot different. Ships sailed with limited capacities, masks were required in most indoor areas, and social distancing was a thing.

Keeping people six feet apart made certain aspects of taking a cruise impossible. Some were made easier by the lower passenger counts. For example, all Royal Caribbean Windjammer buffets required reservations to keep the crowds down, but in practice that system was generally not needed because capacities were never reached.

Dance parties and nightclub-style events had to be held on the pool decks or in larger spaces, and shows in the big theaters left open seats between parties traveling together. In most cases, accommodations were made and events more or less happened in a sort of normal fashion.

A few very popular events were not possible, however, in an environment where keeping six feet between passengers was a goal. Two of those events -- the first night balloon drop and the adult "Crazy Quest" game show -- simply did not work with social-distancing requirements.

One of those popular events has now made its comeback while the second appears to still be missing (aside from a few one-off appearances).

TheStreet

The Quest Is Still Mostly Missing

In late November, Royal Caribbean's adult scavenger hunt, "The Quest," (sometimes known as "Crazy Quest") began appearing on select sailings. And at the time it appeared like it was coming back across the fleet: A number of people posted about the return of the interactive adult game show in an unofficial Royal Caribbean Facebook group.

It first appeared during a Wonder of the Seas transatlantic sailing.

Since, then its appearances continue to be spotty and it has not returned on a fleetwide basis. This might not be due to any covid-related issues directly, but covid may play a role.

On some ships, Studio B, which hosts "The Quest," has been used for show rehearsals. That has been more of an issue with the trouble Royal Caribbean has had in getting new crew members onboard. And while that staffing issue has been improving, some shows may not have had full complements of performers, so using the space for rehearsal has been a continuing need.

In addition, while covid rules have gone away, covid has not, and ill cast members may force the need for more rehearsals.

Royal Caribbean has not publicly commented on when (or whether) "The Quest" will make a full comeback

Royal Caribbean Balloon Drops Are Back   

Before the pandemic, Royal Caribbean kicked off many of its cruises with a balloon drop on the Royal Promenade. That went away because it forced people to cluster as music was performed and, at midnight, balloons fell from the ceiling.

Now, the cruise line has brought back the balloon drop, albeit with a twist. The drop itself is appearing on activity schedules for upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises. Immediately after it, however, the cruise line has added something new: "The Big Recycle Balloon Pickup."

Most of the dropped balloons get popped during the drop. Previously, crewmembers picked up the used balloons. Now, the cruise line has made it a "fun" passenger activity.

"Get environmentally friendly as you help us gather our 100% biodegradable balloons in recycle baskets," the cruise line shared in its app. 

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What’s Still Missing on Royal Caribbean Cruises Post Covid

The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn’t been brought back.

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on

The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn't been brought back.

In the early days of Royal Caribbean Group's (RCL) - Get Free Report return from its 15-month covid pandemic shutdown, cruising looked a lot different. Ships sailed with limited capacities, masks were required in most indoor areas, and social distancing was a thing.

Keeping people six feet apart made certain aspects of taking a cruise impossible. Some were made easier by the lower passenger counts. For example, all Royal Caribbean Windjammer buffets required reservations to keep the crowds down, but in practice that system was generally not needed because capacities were never reached.

Dance parties and nightclub-style events had to be held on the pool decks or in larger spaces, and shows in the big theaters left open seats between parties traveling together. In most cases, accommodations were made and events more or less happened in a sort of normal fashion.

A few very popular events were not possible, however, in an environment where keeping six feet between passengers was a goal. Two of those events -- the first night balloon drop and the adult "Crazy Quest" game show -- simply did not work with social-distancing requirements.

One of those popular events has now made its comeback while the second appears to still be missing (aside from a few one-off appearances).

TheStreet

The Quest Is Still Mostly Missing

In late November, Royal Caribbean's adult scavenger hunt, "The Quest," (sometimes known as "Crazy Quest") began appearing on select sailings. And at the time it appeared like it was coming back across the fleet: A number of people posted about the return of the interactive adult game show in an unofficial Royal Caribbean Facebook group.

It first appeared during a Wonder of the Seas transatlantic sailing.

Since, then its appearances continue to be spotty and it has not returned on a fleetwide basis. This might not be due to any covid-related issues directly, but covid may play a role.

On some ships, Studio B, which hosts "The Quest," has been used for show rehearsals. That has been more of an issue with the trouble Royal Caribbean has had in getting new crew members onboard. And while that staffing issue has been improving, some shows may not have had full complements of performers, so using the space for rehearsal has been a continuing need.

In addition, while covid rules have gone away, covid has not, and ill cast members may force the need for more rehearsals.

Royal Caribbean has not publicly commented on when (or whether) "The Quest" will make a full comeback

Royal Caribbean Balloon Drops Are Back   

Before the pandemic, Royal Caribbean kicked off many of its cruises with a balloon drop on the Royal Promenade. That went away because it forced people to cluster as music was performed and, at midnight, balloons fell from the ceiling.

Now, the cruise line has brought back the balloon drop, albeit with a twist. The drop itself is appearing on activity schedules for upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises. Immediately after it, however, the cruise line has added something new: "The Big Recycle Balloon Pickup."

Most of the dropped balloons get popped during the drop. Previously, crewmembers picked up the used balloons. Now, the cruise line has made it a "fun" passenger activity.

"Get environmentally friendly as you help us gather our 100% biodegradable balloons in recycle baskets," the cruise line shared in its app. 

Read More

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