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COVID-19 disease map: Researchers coordinate international effort

COVID-19 Disease Map Diagram. Credit: LCSB/University of Luxembourg

In the fight against the current pandemic, researchers of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg are coordinating an international collaboration to build a COVID-19 Disease Map: a comprehensive repository incorporating all current knowledge on the virus-host interaction mechanisms. This online tool will support research and improve our understanding of the disease.

In an article published this week in Nature Scientific Data, the researchers present their project and call for contributions from the R&D community worldwide.

Leveraging over a decade of expertise in disease maps and community building, the LCSB researchers are organising this project as a rapid response to the current epidemic. 162 contributors from 25 countries around the world are now participating in a collaborative effort. Extracting and assembling data from the existing literature and the fast-growing number of COVID-19 publications thanks to a rigorous and efficient organisation, they are building a reliable knowledge repository.

The disease map will provide a graphical, interactive representation of the disease mechanisms and a computational resource for analyses and disease modelling. “This platform will allow domain experts, such as clinicians, virologists, and immunologists, to collaborate with data scientists and computational biologists for a precise formulation of models and accurate data interpretation,” explains Prof. Reinhard Schneider, head of the Bioinformatics Core at the LCSB.

The way the COVID-19 Disease Map is being built is unique as the researchers have to rely on a distributed, multi-tool, multi-group approach dictated by emergency time-constraints of the ongoing pandemic. Only a collaboration between several and the combination of multiple areas of expertise can allow to tackle this challenge fast enough. “The response from the is already impressive, but we want to gain more visibility and attract new contributors,” underlines

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HPV and cervical cancer: What you need to know

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., and there are more than 200 strains of it.

Forty of those are known as high-risk HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer in women. Low-risk HPV usually causes symptoms that are not life threatening, such as genital warts.

It’s important to know that high-risk HPV by itself is not cancer. Eight out of 10 women will have high-risk HPV at some point in their lives, but few of them will get cervical cancer.

Luckily, there is a vaccine that protects people against some high-risk strains of HPV.

How do you get HPV?

You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. HPV can be passed on even if the infected person has no symptoms.

Who can get HPV?

Both men and women can get HPV. It’s important to know that women can be tested for HPV, but men can’t. However, men can get the HPV vaccine, which helps prevent them from getting genital warts and some types of cancer, including penile, anal, and throat cancer. The vaccine also helps protect their partners.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend routine testing for men for these cancers because they’re much less common. However, if you think you may have HPV or cancer, contact your health care provider.

What are the symptoms of HPV and cervical cancer?

Genital warts can be a sign of HPV in men and women. However, many strains of HPV, especially those that cause cancer, have no noticeable symptoms. These strains can be detected only by a Pap smear, which tests a woman’s cervix, the