Health Flash: 11.18.20

the next phase | Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have begun recruiting for phase 3 of their clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. The university is investigating the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies’ vaccine candidate JNJ-78436735, also known as Ad26.COV2.S. This new phase will test the efficacy and safety of a single vaccine dose against a placebo in up to 500 adults. The trial will include people with and without conditions associated with an increased risk for severe cases of COVID-19.

access for all
Saint Louis University School of Medicine is increasing access to free medical care for the St. Louis community. The Health Resource Center, which is run by medical students and faculty, received $25,000 in grants from the American Academy of Family Physicians. The money will help the clinic improve its facilities, increase patient access and purchase supplies, including air purification and personal protective equipment to allow services to continue safely during the pandemic.

make a choice
Every time we make a decision, our brain cells play an important role in weighing the choices. Animal studies have shown that each option activates distinct neurons, and the more appealing the alternative, the faster they fire. Researchers at Washington University have found that the activity of these neurons encodes the value of options, determining the final choice. In a study, monkeys chose between different juice flavors. By changing the neurons’ activity, the researchers altered how appealing each option was to the animals, resulting in different choices. The findings could offer insight into harmful decision-making in conditions like depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia and addiction.

young minds
There is no question that the pandemic has disrupted the lives of children across the country as schools have moved classes online and extracurricular activities have been canceled. Rachel Wamser-Nanney, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has joined a study with researchers at the University of Kentucky and Boston Children’s Hospital to research the effect of the stress and trauma of the pandemic on young children and their parents. The study is being conducted in parallel with research in Australia and will focus on families with at least one child under the age of 5.

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