Posts Tagged ‘x57s’

The Plague Year | The New Yorker

February 14, 2021

Nice discussion on the mistakes on aerosols + a vaccine development chronology

During the study’s initial stages, in February and March, the researchers were discomfited by the implications of their data. “The rapidity and degree of spread suggested it wasn’t a series of one-to-one-to-one transmissions,” Dr. Jacob Lemieux, a lead author, told me. Rather, it was “one-to-many transmission events.” That raised the question of airborne transmission. “At the time, the idea was heretical,” Lemieux said. “We were afraid to consider it, because it implied a whole different approach to infection control”—one in which masks played a central role, especially indoors. But the W.H.O. had repeatedly proclaimed that large respiratory droplets—as from a sneeze or a cough—drove the spread. This wasn’t based on data about the new virus, Lemieux said: “It was received wisdom based on how previous respiratory viruses had behaved. The global public-health
infrastructure has egg on its face. There’s a component of human nature that, until you get burned, you don’t know how hot the fire is.”

Until recently, one of the main imaging tools used by vaccinologists, the cryogenic electron microscope, wasn’t powerful enough to visualize viral proteins, which are incredibly tiny. “The whole field was referred to as blobology,” McLellan said. As a work-around, he developed expertise in X-ray crystallography. …McLellan showed me an “atomistic interpretation” of the F protein on the RSV virus—the visualization looked like a pile of Cheetos. It required a leap of imagination, but inside that murky world Graham and McLellan and their team manipulated the F protein, essentially by cloning it and inserting mutations that kept it strapped down. McLellan said, “There’s a lot of art to it.”

In 2013, Graham and McLellan published “Structure-Based Design of a Fusion Glycoprotein Vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus,” in Science, demonstrating how they had stabilized the F protein in order to use it as an antigen—the part of a vaccine that sparks an immune response. Antibodies could now attack the F protein, vanquishing the virus. Graham and McLellan calculated that their vaccine could be given to a pregnant woman and provide enough antibodies to her baby to last for its first six months—the critical period. The paper opened a new front in the war against infectious disease. In a subsequent paper in Science, the team declared that it had established “clinical proof of concept for structure-based vaccine design,” portending “an era of precision vaccinology.”

Within a day after Graham and McLellan downloaded the sequence for sars-CoV-2, they had designed the modified proteins. The key accelerating factor was that they already knew how to alter the spike proteins of other coronaviruses. On January 13th, they turned their scheme over to Moderna, for manufacturing. Six weeks later, Moderna began shipping vials of vaccine for clinical trials. The development process was “an all-time record,” Graham told me. Typically, it takes years, if not decades, to go from formulating a vaccine to making a product ready to be tested: the process privileges safety and cost over speed.

After the vaccine was tested in animals, it became clear that Graham’s design choices had been sound. The first human trial began on March 16th. A week later, Moderna began scaling up production to a million doses per month.

The Pandemic Broke the Flu – The Atlantic

February 8, 2021

Nicholas Winton, Rescuer of 669 Children From Holocaust, Dies at 106 – The New York Times

February 8, 2021

Coronavirus Will Resemble the Common Cold, Scientists Predict – The New York Times

February 7, 2021

When a Virus Is the Cure | The New Yorker

January 26, 2021

To make matters worse, fears of antibiotic resistance have, in recent decades, created a perverse incentive in medical research: new antibiotics, to remain effective, must be used sparingly, as so-called antibiotics of last resort. As a result, it is almost impossible to recoup the cost of developing them.

Great article!… But I don’t see how phages will solve the economic conundrum: the “perverse incentive [that]…new antibiotics, to remain effective, must be used sparingly…As a result, it is almost impossible to recoup the cost of developing them.”

How COVID unlocked the power of RNA vaccines

January 21, 2021

.@ElieDolgin’s great feature on the development of new mRNA vaccines highlights how important breakthroughs in lipid nanoparticles were. Interesting that a lot of the key research appears to be funded by @Darpa.

Opinion | The Pandemic, from the Coronavirus’s Perspective – The New York Times

November 21, 2020

Joshua Lederberg, a Nobel Prize laureate in 1958, at age 33, wrote: “The future of humanity and microbes likely will unfold as episodes of a suspense thriller that could be titled ‘Our Wits Versus Their Genes.’ ”

Wits are fundamentally a product of genes, and in the end, genes beat wits. QT:{{”
Chimpanzees were a species in decline, alas, because of habitat loss and killing by humans; humans were a species in ascendance. The SIVcpz virus reversed its own evolutionary prospects by getting into us and adapting well to the new host. It jumped from a sinking lifeboat onto a luxury cruise ship.

SARS-CoV-2 has done likewise, though its success has occurred much more quickly. It has now infected more than 30 million people, just under half as many as the number of people infected by H.I.V., and in 10 months rather than 10 decades. It’s not the most successful human-infecting virus on the planet — that distinction lies elsewhere, possibly with the Epstein-Barr virus, a very transmissible species of herpesvirus, which may reside within at least 90 percent of all humans, causing syndromes in some and lying latent in most. But SARS-CoV-2 is off to a roaring start.

Now, for purposes of illustration, imagine a different scenario, involving a different virus. In the mountain forests of Rwanda lives a small, insectivorous bat known as Hill’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hilli). This bat is real, but it has been glimpsed only rarely and is classified as critically endangered. Posit a coronavirus, for which this bat serves as reservoir host. Call the virus RhRW19 (a coded abbreviation of the sort biologists use), because it was detected within the species Rhinolophus hilli (Rh), in Rwanda (RW), in 2019 (19).

The Children Never Had Covid. So Why Did They Have Coronavirus Antibodies? – The New York Times

November 19, 2020

Wonder whether the chronic inflammation in asthmatic patients also has similar effects & if this explains why #COVID19 didn’t hit asthmatics quite as hard as was expected.

After examining blood taken from 190 people before the pandemic emerged, Dr. Elledge and his colleagues concluded that many already had antibodies, including the one targeting the base of the spike — presumably from infections with related coronaviruses that cause colds.

But while adults might get one or two colds a year, Dr. Elledge said, children may get up to a dozen. As a result, many develop floods of coronavirus antibodies that are present almost continuously; they may lessen cold symptoms, or even leave children with colds that are symptomless but still infectious.

What’s the worst that could happen? – The world should think better about catastrophic and existential ri sks | Briefing | The Economist

November 19, 2020 +

When Pigs Fly, They Want Drinks, Leg Room – WSJ

November 17, 2020
Amazing an elephant could be transported as well, with continuous food service during the trip….