Daily briefing: COVID-19 treatment helps people without defenses

Hello Nature readers, would you like to get this Briefing in your inbox free every day? Sign up here

A beam of light illuminates a biological sample in this artist's impression

An artist’s impression of a quantum microscope.The University of Queensland

Quantum microscope squeezes out noise

A microscope that harnesses quantum entanglement can image biological structures with unprecedented sharpness. The technique ‘squeezes’ light to produce correlations between photons in one of the lasers used by an optical imaging method called stimulated Raman scattering gain microscopy. The squeezed light suppresses noise in the microscope’s signal, improving the sensitivity. “In order to achieve this kind of measurement without quantum correlations, you’d have to turn the intensity up,” says physicist Warwick Bowen. “But if you turned up the intensity enough to match these results, you’d destroy the sample, so we’re able to examine things that previously would have been impossible to see.”

New Scientist | 3 min read

Go deeper with optical imaging researcher Eric Potma in the Nature News & Views article

Reference: Nature paper

Take our salary and job-satisfaction survey

Please contribute to Nature’s sixth salary and job-satisfaction survey — available in English, Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish. “This year is a crucial time in the lives and careers of many researchers,” says Karen Kaplan, senior editor of Nature Careers. “With so much uncertainty in the wake of the pandemic and other issues, we want to learn how our readers are faring.” Survey results will be made available in an online database later this year, and Nature will cover them in a series of stories starting in September. Find out more and take the survey here.

COVID-19 coronavirus update

How COVID could change global science

The pandemic could leave its mark on research collaborations for years to come. Many scientists strengthened existing connections and forged new ones. But the pandemic interrupted projects and curtailed travel. And it might have intensified the challenges to international cooperation arising from long-standing political tensions, particularly between the United States and China. There is also growing concern, heightened during the pandemic, about making collaborations equitable for — and beneficial to — all partners.

Nature | 15 min read

Antibodies help those without their own

A combination of monoclonal antibodies could be the first new treatment proven to benefit at least some people with severe COVID-19: 24% of treated hospitalized people who did not produce natural antibodies to the disease died within 28 days. Among the control group of people without their own antibodies, 30% died within 28 days. The treatments were studied as part of the large UK RECOVERY trial. The research has been announced but not yet published as a preprint or peer reviewed.

Monoclonal antibodies are designer versions of disease-fighting molecules in the immune system. (They differ from ‘convalescent plasma’ — taken directly from the blood of people recovering from COVID-19 and used to treat others — which has not proven to be beneficial for people hospitalized with disease.) A downside of monoclonal antibodies is that they are expensive to make, and it’s unclear how many people would benefit from them.

Science | 5 min read

Read more: Antibody therapies could be a bridge to a

coronavirus vaccine — but will the world benefit? (Nature | 6 min read, from 2020)

Reference: RECOVERY trial press release

Notable quotable

“How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence?”

Virologist Shi Zhengli responds to questions about the hypothesis that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 is linked to her work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. (The New York Times | 3 min read)Read more: The COVID lab-leak hypothesis: what scientists do and don’t know (Nature | 11 min read)

Features & opinion

Ways to save collaborations

Research collaborations are the lifeblood of science. But if trust breaks down or respect is lost, partnerships can be difficult to resuscitate. To keep cooperation alive, team members should identify potential pressure points in advance and promote open discussions to ensure that everyone is still on board. For example, each of the thousands of researchers involved in the Human Cell Atlas project must explain how they will approach well-defined policies and principles on data sharing and publishing.

Nature | 6 min read

The partnership that helped Flint

Flint, Michigan, is infamous for its water crisis — but it should be known for more than this public-health tragedy, write public-health researchers E. Yvonne Lewis and Richard Sadler. “Flint is a working example of how community members and academics can collaborate on problems — such as how to collect data or develop robust models of health risks and injustices — and on finding solutions,” they write.

Nature | 10 min read

Funding giant Wellcome is tackling racism

The global antiracism movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd and the pandemic also spurred Wellcome, one of the world’s largest biomedical-research funders. “It was like the door I had been pushing had fallen open,” says Kalaiyashni Puvanendran, who is a diversity and inclusion project manager at the charity. “Suddenly, I was allowed — encouraged! — to progress anti-racism work that I’d wanted to do for years.” She lays out the five principles that Wellcome is using to help turn intentions into actions.

Nature | 5 min read

Quote of the day

“He has already proven that he is very deserving of the degree; we only completed the last requirement.”

The University of Chicago has awarded a posthumous PhD to Yiran Fan, who was murdered during a random shooting spree in Chicago in January. His supervisor Zhiguo He and a colleague defended Fan’s dissertation on his behalf, based on papers they discovered in his Dropbox. (Quartz | 4 min read)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01643-2

Dig out those AstraZeneca paperweights and Pfizer pens: apparently people are snapping up old merch and conference swag from companies that make COVID-19 vaccines to commemorate their jabs. I think I’ll stick with just the antibodies.

This newsletter is always evolving — tell us what you think! Please send your feedback to briefing@nature.com.

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

Nature Careers


Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing