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biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.23.394312


Objective: We analyzed the scientific output after COVID-19 and contrasted it with studies published in the aftermath of seven epidemics/pandemics: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Influenza A virus H5N1 and Influenza A virus H1N1 human infections, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola virus disease, Zika virus disease, and Dengue. Design/Methodology/Approach: We examined bibliometric measures for COVID-19 and the rest of studied epidemics/pandemics. Data were extracted from Web of Science, using its journal classification scheme as a proxy to quantify the multidisciplinary coverage of scientific output. We proposed a novel Thematic Dispersion Index (TDI) for the analysis of pandemic early stages. Results/Discussion: The literature on the seven epidemics/pandemics before COVID-19 has shown explosive growth of the scientific production and continuous impact during the first three years following each emergence or re-emergence of the specific infectious disease. A subsequent decline was observed with the progressive control of each health emergency. We observed an unprecedented growth in COVID-19 scientific production. TDI measured for COVID-19 (29,4) in just six months, was higher than TDI of the rest (7,5 to 21) during the first three years after epidemic initiation. Conclusions: COVID-19 literature showed the broadest subject coverage, which is clearly a consecuence of its social, economic, and political impact. The proposed indicator (TDI), allowed the study of multidisciplinarity, differentiating the thematic complexity of COVID-19 from the previous seven epidemics/pandemics. Originality/Value: The multidisciplinary nature and thematic complexity of COVID-19 research were successfully analyzed through a scientometric perspective.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.21.392407


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been undergoing various mutations. The analysis of the structural and energetic effects of mutations on protein-protein interactions between the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 and angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) or neutralizing monoclonal antibodies will be beneficial for epidemic surveillance, diagnosis, and optimization of neutralizing agents. According to the molecular dynamics simulation, a key mutation N439K in the SARS-CoV-2 RBD region created a new salt bridge which resulted in greater electrostatic complementarity. Furthermore, the N439K-mutated RBD bound hACE2 with a higher affinity than wild-type, which may lead to more infectious. In addition, the N439K-mutated RBD was markedly resistant to the SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody REGN10987, which may lead to the failure of neutralization. These findings would offer guidance on the development of neutralizing antibodies and the prevention of COVID-19.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.29.360479


Dysfunctional immune response in the COVID-19 patients is a recurrent theme impacting symptoms and mortality, yet the detailed understanding of pertinent immune cells is not complete. We applied single-cell RNA sequencing to 284 samples from 205 COVID-19 patients and controls to create a comprehensive immune landscape. Lymphopenia and active T and B cell responses were found to coexist and associated with age, sex and their interactions with COVID-19. Diverse epithelial and immune cell types were observed to be virus-positive and showed dramatic transcriptomic changes. Elevation of ANXA1 and S100A9 in virus-positive squamous epithelial cells may enable the initiation of neutrophil and macrophage responses via the ANXA1-FPR1 and S100A8/9-TLR4 axes. Systemic up-regulation of S100A8/A9, mainly by megakaryocytes and monocytes in the peripheral blood, may contribute to the cytokine storms frequently observed in severe patients. Our data provide a rich resource for understanding the pathogenesis and designing effective therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.29.361261


The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a surge of crowd-sourced initiatives aimed at simulating the proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A bottleneck currently exists in translating these simulations into tangible predictions that can be leveraged for pharmacological studies. Here we report on extensive electrostatic calculations done on an exascale simulation of the opening of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, performed by the Folding@home initiative. We compute the electric potential as the solution of the non-linear Poisson-Boltzmann equation using a parallel sharp numerical solver. The inherent multiple length scales present in the geometry and solution are reproduced using highly adaptive Octree grids. We analyze our results focusing on the electro-geometric properties of the receptor-binding domain and its vicinity. This work paves the way for a new class of hybrid computational and data-enabled approaches, where molecular dynamics simulations are combined with continuum modeling to produce high-fidelity computational measurements serving as a basis for protein bio-mechanism investigations.