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  1. Abstract Background Wound healing is one of the defining features of life and is seen not only in tissues but also within individual cells. Understanding wound response at the single-cell level is critical for determining fundamental cellular functions needed for cell repair and survival. This understanding could also enable the engineering of single-cell wound repair strategies in emerging synthetic cell research. One approach is to examine and adapt self-repair mechanisms from a living system that already demonstrates robust capacity to heal from large wounds. Towards this end, Stentor coeruleus , a single-celled free-living ciliate protozoan, is a unique model becausemore »of its robust wound healing capacity. This capacity allows one to perturb the wounding conditions and measure their effect on the repair process without immediately causing cell death, thereby providing a robust platform for probing the self-repair mechanism. Results Here we used a microfluidic guillotine and a fluorescence-based assay to probe the timescales of wound repair and of mechanical modes of wound response in Stentor . We found that Stentor requires ~ 100–1000 s to close bisection wounds, depending on the severity of the wound. This corresponds to a healing rate of ~ 8–80 μm 2 /s, faster than most other single cells reported in the literature. Further, we characterized three distinct mechanical modes of wound response in Stentor : contraction, cytoplasm retrieval, and twisting/pulling. Using chemical perturbations, active cilia were found to be important for only the twisting/pulling mode. Contraction of myonemes, a major contractile fiber in Stentor , was surprisingly not important for the contraction mode and was of low importance for the others. Conclusions While events local to the wound site have been the focus of many single-cell wound repair studies, our results suggest that large-scale mechanical behaviors may be of greater importance to single-cell wound repair than previously thought. The work here advances our understanding of the wound response in Stentor and will lay the foundation for further investigations into the underlying components and molecular mechanisms involved.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  2. Micro-blade design is an important factor in the cutting of single cells and other biological structures. This paper describes the fabrication process of three-dimensional (3D) micro-blades for the cutting of single cells in a microfluidic “guillotine” intended for fundamental wound repair and regeneration studies. Our microfluidic guillotine consists of a fixed 3D micro-blade centered in a microchannel to bisect cells flowing through. We show that the Nanoscribe two-photon polymerization direct laser writing system is capable of fabricating complex 3D micro-blade geometries. However, structures made of the Nanoscribe IP-S resin have low adhesion to silicon, and they tend to peel offmore »from the substrate after at most two times of replica molding in poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS). Our work demonstrates that the use of a secondary mold replicates Nanoscribe-printed features faithfully for at least 10 iterations. Finally, we show that complex micro-blade features can generate different degrees of cell wounding and cell survival rates compared with simple blades possessing a vertical cutting edge fabricated with conventional 2.5D photolithography. Our work lays the foundation for future applications in single cell analyses, wound repair and regeneration studies, as well as investigations of the physics of cutting and the interaction between the micro-blade and biological structures.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2022
  3. Traditional parallel-jaw grippers are insufficient for delicate object manipulation due to their stiffness and lack of dexterity. Other dexterous robotic hands often have bulky fingers, rely on complex time-varying cable drives, or are prohibitively expensive. In this paper, we introduce a novel low-cost compliant gripper with two centimeter-scaled 3-DOF delta robots using off-the-shelf linear actuators and 3D-printed soft materials. To model the kinematics of delta robots with soft compliant links, which diverge from typical rigid links, we train neural networks using a perception system. Furthermore, we analyze the delta robot’s force profile by varying the starting position in its workspacemore »and measuring the resulting force from a push action. Finally, we demonstrate the compliance and dexterity of our gripper through six dexterous manipulation tasks involving small and delicate objects. Thus, we present the groundwork for creating modular multi-fingered hands that can execute precise and low-inertia manipulations.« less
  4. Read, Andrew Fraser (Ed.)
    Two of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines currently approved in the United States require 2 doses, administered 3 to 4 weeks apart. Constraints in vaccine supply and distribution capacity, together with a deadly wave of COVID-19 from November 2020 to January 2021 and the emergence of highly contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants, sparked a policy debate on whether to vaccinate more individuals with the first dose of available vaccines and delay the second dose or to continue with the recommended 2-dose series as tested in clinical trials. We developed an agent-based model of COVID-19 transmissionmore »to compare the impact of these 2 vaccination strategies, while varying the temporal waning of vaccine efficacy following the first dose and the level of preexisting immunity in the population. Our results show that for Moderna vaccines, a delay of at least 9 weeks could maximize vaccination program effectiveness and avert at least an additional 17.3 (95% credible interval [CrI]: 7.8–29.7) infections, 0.69 (95% CrI: 0.52–0.97) hospitalizations, and 0.34 (95% CrI: 0.25–0.44) deaths per 10,000 population compared to the recommended 4-week interval between the 2 doses. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines also averted an additional 0.60 (95% CrI: 0.37–0.89) hospitalizations and 0.32 (95% CrI: 0.23–0.45) deaths per 10,000 population in a 9-week delayed second dose (DSD) strategy compared to the 3-week recommended schedule between doses. However, there was no clear advantage of delaying the second dose with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in reducing infections, unless the efficacy of the first dose did not wane over time. Our findings underscore the importance of quantifying the characteristics and durability of vaccine-induced protection after the first dose in order to determine the optimal time interval between the 2 doses.« less
  5. Quantification of the simultaneous contributions of loci to multiple traits, a phenomenon called pleiotropy, is facilitated by the increased availability of high-throughput genotypic and phenotypic data. To understand the prevalence and nature of pleiotropy, the ability of multivariate and univariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) models to distinguish between pleiotropic and non-pleiotropic loci in linkage disequilibrium (LD) first needs to be evaluated. Therefore, we used publicly available maize and soybean genotypic data to simulate multiple pairs of traits that were either (i) controlled by quantitative trait nucleotides (QTNs) on separate chromosomes, (ii) controlled by QTNs in various degrees of LD withmore »each other, or (iii) controlled by a single pleiotropic QTN. We showed that multivariate GWAS could not distinguish between QTNs in LD and a single pleiotropic QTN. In contrast, a unique QTN detection rate pattern was observed for univariate GWAS whenever the simulated QTNs were in high LD or pleiotropic. Collectively, these results suggest that multivariate and univariate GWAS should both be used to infer whether or not causal mutations underlying peak GWAS associations are pleiotropic. Therefore, we recommend that future studies use a combination of multivariate and univariate GWAS models, as both models could be useful for identifying and narrowing down candidate loci with potential pleiotropic effects for downstream biological experiments.« less
  6. Abstract Objective: Current COVID-19 guidelines recommend symptom-based screening and regular nasopharyngeal (NP) testing for healthcare personnel in high-risk settings. We sought to estimate case detection percentages with various routine NP and saliva testing frequencies. Design: Simulation modeling study. Methods: We constructed a sensitivity function based on the average infectiousness profile of symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases to determine the probability of being identified at the time of testing. This function was fitted to reported data on the percent positivity of symptomatic COVID-19 patients using NP testing. We then simulated a routine testing program with different NP and saliva testingmore »frequencies to determine case detection percentages during the infectious period, as well as the presymptomatic stage. Results: Routine biweekly NP testing, once every 2 weeks, identified an average of 90.7% (SD, 0.18) of cases during the infectious period and 19.7% (SD, 0.98) during the presymptomatic stage. With a weekly NP testing frequency, the corresponding case detection percentages were 95.9% (SD, 0.18) and 32.9% (SD, 1.23), respectively. A 5-day saliva testing schedule had a similar case detection percentage as weekly NP testing during the infectious period, but identified ~10% more cases (mean, 42.5%; SD, 1.10) during the presymptomatic stage. Conclusion: Our findings highlight the utility of routine noninvasive saliva testing for frontline healthcare workers to protect vulnerable patient populations. A 5-day saliva testing schedule should be considered to help identify silent infections and prevent outbreaks in nursing homes and healthcare facilities.« less
  7. Abstract Background Global vaccine development efforts have been accelerated in response to the devastating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We evaluated the impact of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccination campaign on reducing incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. Methods We developed an agent-based model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission and parameterized it with US demographics and age-specific COVID-19 outcomes. Healthcare workers and high-risk individuals were prioritized for vaccination, whereas children under 18 years of age were not vaccinated. We considered a vaccine efficacy of 95% against disease following 2 doses administered 21 days apart achievingmore »40% vaccine coverage of the overall population within 284 days. We varied vaccine efficacy against infection and specified 10% preexisting population immunity for the base-case scenario. The model was calibrated to an effective reproduction number of 1.2, accounting for current nonpharmaceutical interventions in the United States. Results Vaccination reduced the overall attack rate to 4.6% (95% credible interval [CrI]: 4.3%–5.0%) from 9.0% (95% CrI: 8.4%–9.4%) without vaccination, over 300 days. The highest relative reduction (54%–62%) was observed among individuals aged 65 and older. Vaccination markedly reduced adverse outcomes, with non-intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations, ICU hospitalizations, and deaths decreasing by 63.5% (95% CrI: 60.3%–66.7%), 65.6% (95% CrI: 62.2%–68.6%), and 69.3% (95% CrI: 65.5%–73.1%), respectively, across the same period. Conclusions Our results indicate that vaccination can have a substantial impact on mitigating COVID-19 outbreaks, even with limited protection against infection. However, continued compliance with nonpharmaceutical interventions is essential to achieve this impact.« less