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Preparing for the next pandemic: a molecular medicine approach

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SARS-CoV-2 infection has become a defining moment in pandemic history with over 100 million people infected worldwide, with at least two million deaths and an unknown future of post COVID-19 morbidity. While warp speed vaccine programs have delivered highly efficacious vaccines in record time, manufacturing and distribution plans, especially to developing countries, are inefficient and geopolitical. The emergence of virus variants which may partly or completely evade vaccine elicited immunity and even have higher pathogenicity are causes for concern. With an explosion of scientific studies, much has been learned, but only three drugs have current emergency use authorization for use in COVID-19. As new future viral pandemics are almost certain, including from influenza, coronaviruses, nipah, paramyxovirus amongst others, collective viral, immunological and molecular scientific knowledge can propel better preparedness for future viral pandemics.
Ongoing studies have identified gaps in our knowledge. Can pan-viral immune effectors be identified and manufactured, could manipulation of the innate immune system provide some emergency immune protection, could existing vaccines be used to boost innate immunity, can existing drugs be repositioned to target common viral or host pathways, can population level immune surveillance help identify populations at greater risk for more rapid intervention, how do genetic studies identify polygenic risk for infection or disease progression?
This thematic series calls for submissions focusing on the molecular mechanisms at the interface between the immune system and virus in pandemic infections, and the therapeutic exploration of this insight. It will also cover how lessons from the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic could be used to prepare for the next pandemic, including mathematical modeling and systems surveillance. It welcomes contributions of any of the following article types: Original Research Article, Perspective, Review, Mini-review, Opinion, covering, but not limited to, the following topics:  

  • Molecular mechanisms which can be exploited for new drug discovery
  • Novel pan virus vaccine design
  • Identification of conserved immunogenic epitopes that can be targeted by vaccines
  • Optimized strategies with combination immunotherapies and emergency immunotherapies
  • Stimulation of innate immunity, including through unrelated vaccinations
  • Mathematical modeling of immunity
  • Population immunology and systems surveillance studies

This collection is closed to submissions.

  1. The Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) can develop several weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection and requires a distinct treatment protocol. Distinguishing MIS-C from SARS-CoV-2 negative sepsis ...

    Authors: Maitray A. Patel, Douglas D. Fraser, Mark Daley, Gediminas Cepinskas, Noemi Veraldi and Serge Grazioli
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2024 30:51
  2. Survivors of acute COVID-19 often suffer prolonged, diffuse symptoms post-infection, referred to as “Long-COVID”. A lack of Long-COVID biomarkers and pathophysiological mechanisms limits effective diagnosis, t...

    Authors: Maitray A. Patel, Michael J. Knauer, Michael Nicholson, Mark Daley, Logan R. Van Nynatten, Gediminas Cepinskas and Douglas D. Fraser
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2023 29:26
  3. Regardless of improvements in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of comprehensive insight into SARS-COV-2 pathogenesis is still a sophisticated challenge. In order to deal with this challenge, we util...

    Authors: Samaneh Maleknia, Mohammad Javad Tavassolifar, Faezeh Mottaghitalab, Mohammad Reza Zali and Anna Meyfour
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2022 28:86
  4. Mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are unconventional T cells with innate-like capacity to rapidly respond to microbial infection via MR1-restricted antigen recognition. Emerging evidence indicate that...

    Authors: Caroline Boulouis, Tobias Kammann, Angelica Cuapio, Tiphaine Parrot, Yu Gao, Elli Mouchtaridi, David Wullimann, Joshua Lange, Puran Chen, Mira Akber, Olga Rivera Ballesteros, Jagadeeswara Rao Muvva, C. I. Edvard Smith, Jan Vesterbacka, Oscar Kieri, Piotr Nowak…
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2022 28:54
  5. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has already caused 6 million deaths worldwide. While asymptomatic individuals are responsible of many potential transmissions, the difficulty to ide...

    Authors: Lucía Beltrán-Camacho, Sara Eslava-Alcón, Marta Rojas-Torres, Daniel Sánchez-Morillo, Mª Pilar Martinez-Nicolás, Victoria Martín-Bermejo, Inés García de la Torre, Esther Berrocoso, Juan Antonio Moreno, Rafael Moreno-Luna and Mª Carmen Durán-Ruiz
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2022 28:40
  6. Adaptive immune responses have been studied extensively in the course of mRNA vaccination against COVID-19. Considerably fewer studies have assessed the effects on innate immune cells. Here, we characterized N...

    Authors: Angelica Cuapio, Caroline Boulouis, Iva Filipovic, David Wullimann, Tobias Kammann, Tiphaine Parrot, Puran Chen, Mira Akber, Yu Gao, Quirin Hammer, Benedikt Strunz, André Pérez Potti, Olga Rivera Ballesteros, Joshua Lange, Jagadeeswara Rao Muvva, Peter Bergman…
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2022 28:20
  7. COVID-19 clinical presentation differs considerably between individuals, ranging from asymptomatic, mild/moderate and severe disease which in some cases are fatal or result in long-term effects. Identifying im...

    Authors: Catherine Chen, Aisah Amelia, George W. Ashdown, Ivo Mueller, Anna K. Coussens and Emily M. Eriksson
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2021 27:160
  8. The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the gap between modern biology’s ability to investigate and respond to a novel pathogen and modern medicine’s ability to marshal effective fron...

    Authors: Douglas F. Nixon, Daniela Marín-Hernández and Nathaniel Hupert
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2021 27:112
  9. Posttranslational modification (PTM) and regulation of protein stability are crucial to various biological processes. Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6), a unique histone deacetylase with two functional catalytic d...

    Authors: Ping Liu, Ji Xiao, Yiliang Wang, Xiaowei Song, Lianzhou Huang, Zhe Ren, Kaio Kitazato and Yifei Wang
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2021 27:110
  10. Vaccination programs have been launched worldwide to halt the spread of COVID-19. However, the identification of existing, safe compounds with combined treatment and prophylactic properties would be beneficial...

    Authors: Rodrigo R. R. Duarte, Dennis C. Copertino Jr., Luis P. Iñiguez, Jez L. Marston, Yaron Bram, Yuling Han, Robert E. Schwartz, Shuibing Chen, Douglas F. Nixon and Timothy R. Powell
    Citation: Molecular Medicine 2021 27:105