Archive for the ‘Biotech’ Category

Antibody injections could fight COVID-19 infections – an infectious disease expert explains the prospects

 

Antibody injections could fight COVID-19 infections – an infectious disease expert explains the prospects

Antibodies (pink) attacking a virus particle (blue). STEVEN MCDOWELL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Courtesy of Dimiter Stanchev Dimitrov, University of Pittsburgh

Antibodies are part of us – literally.

We have billions of them in our bodies with a combined weight of about 100 grams, or about the weight of a bar of soap. If there are so many antibodies inside our bodies then they must be safe and very important, right?

Indeed, antibodies are perhaps the safest type of therapy and have many important functions. One of them is to protect and cure infections caused by viruses. The human immune system can produce antibodies specific for each type virus that bind strongly to the virus and block it from infecting our cells – so-called neutralizing antibodies.

I am an infectious disease scientist and am interested in antibody therapeutics because they are a relatively safe way to prevent severe disease and save lives, particularly when a new, deadly virus emerges.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, billions of people will need to have antibodies to protect against the new coronavirus. So the question is how can we isolate and produce neutralizing antibodies in large enough quantities to serve everyone who needs them, including research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies?

What are antibodies?

Our immune system makes antibodies in response to a foreign pathogen, whether that be a bacterium, virus or fungi.

Antibodies are Y-shaped blood proteins made by white blood cells called “B cells.” They neutralize pathogens by attaching to their surface, blocking them from entering our cells and signaling our immune system to clear the pathogen from our bodies.

Humans have all sorts of different antibodies floating around inside us at any given time looking for foreign pathogens to attack. When a specific virus, such as SARS-CoV-2, infects our bodies, our immune system will try to produce enough specific antibodies against it before the infection becomes overwhelming.

This process can happen faster and be more successful in preventing infection if we already have existing antibodies against the pathogen.


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Does nicotine protect us against coronavirus?

 

Does nicotine protect us against coronavirus?

Shutterstock

Courtesy of Adrian Bauman, University of Sydney; Leah Shepherd, University of Sydney, and Melody Ding, University of Sydney

If you noticed headlines recently suggesting smoking could protect against COVID-19, you might have been surprised.

After all, we know smoking is bad for our health. It’s a leading risk factor for heart disease, lung disease and many cancers. Smoking also reduces our immunity, and makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections including pneumonia.

And smokers touch their mouth and face more, a risk for COVID-19 infection.

Initial observational findings suggested a history of smoking increased the risk of poor outcomes in COVID-19 patients, as the World Health Organisation and other bodies have identified.

But a recent paper which examined smoking rates among COVID-19 patients in a French hospital hypothesised smoking might make people less susceptible to COVID-19 infection.

So what can we make of this?

What the study did

This study was a cross-sectional survey where the researchers assessed the exposure (smoking) and the outcome (COVID-19) at the same time. This type of research design can’t prove the exposure causes the outcome – only that there may be an association.

There were two groups included in the study – 343 inpatients treated for COVID-19 from February 28 to March 30, and 139 outpatients treated from March 23 to April 9. Among other data collected, participants were asked whether they were current smokers.

The researchers compared smoking rates in both groups with smoking rates in the general French population.

The results

The study found 4.4% of inpatients and 5.3% of outpatients with COVID-19 were smokers, after adjusting for differences in age and sex.

This was only a fraction of the prevalence…
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Is COVID-19 a Blood Vessel Disease?

Worth reading, the theory presented here is strongly supported by the evidence.





Antigen tests for COVID-19 are fast and easy – and could solve the coronavirus testing problem despite being somewhat inaccurate

 

Antigen tests for COVID-19 are fast and easy – and could solve the coronavirus testing problem despite being somewhat inaccurate

Antibodies are incredibly good at finding the coronavirus. Antigen tests put them to work. Sergii Iaremenko/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Courtesy of Eugene Wu, University of Richmond

In late February, I fell ill with a fever and a cough. As a biochemist who teaches a class on viruses, I’d been tracking the outbreak of COVID-19 in China. Inevitably I wondered: Did I have COVID-19, or did I have the flu?

At the time, COVID-19 testing was very restricted but I knew I could get quickly tested for the flu. I drove myself to an urgent care clinic, the nurse easily checked my temperature and took a throat swab and 30 minutes later I got the results: positive for influenza.

The flu test I took is a type of viral screening called a rapid antigen test that looks for viral proteins. For the flu, these antigen tests are easy to administer, decently accurate and give results almost immediately.

Widespread testing for SARS–CoV–2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is critical to knowing if, when and how people can start to return to their normal lives. An antigen test for the coronavirus could be a huge help in expanding testing.

On May 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first antigen test for emergency use in the U.S. These tests are starting to be available across the country and could dramatically change the COVID-19 testing landscape when they become widely available.

What is an antigen?

The human immune system, and in fact the immune systems of most vertebrates, work on a simple idea: Any protein in your body that isn’t encoded by your own genes is probably from a pathogen and should be captured and destroyed.

When the immune system detects a foreign protein, your white blood cells, specifically your B-cells, create antibodies to trap and destroy these proteins. Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that use their arms as grabbers for foreign proteins. The first round of antibodies aren’t particularly well matched to the shape of…
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How coronavirus contact tracing works in a state Dr. Fauci praised as a model to follow

 

How coronavirus contact tracing works in a state Dr. Fauci praised as a model to follow

Pairing widespread testing with fast, effective contact tracing is considered essential for controlling the coronavirus’s spread as the U.S. passes 100,000 deaths. AP Images/Rick Bowmer

Courtesy of Jenny Meredith, University of South Carolina

After weeks of keeping people home to “flatten the curve,” restrictions on U.S. businesses are loosening and the coronavirus pandemic response is moving into a new phase.

Two things will be critical to keep COVID-19 cases from flaring up again: widespread testing to quickly identify anyone who gets the virus, and contact tracing to find everyone those individuals might have passed it to.

It’s a daunting task, but states are working hard to take the necessary steps to reopen safely. When Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, explained that task to the U.S. Senate recently, he pointed to South Carolina as a model for the country, one that he would “almost like to clone.”

So, what is South Carolina getting right?

Part of it has to do with contact tracing. Since early March, when South Carolina’s first coronavirus case surfaced, investigators have reached out to every person who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the state, and all of the people they came into close contact with. To help prevent the virus from spreading farther, they hired 1,800 additional workers who will follow up with those contacts each day for 14 days to make sure they haven’t become ill.

Fauci’s compliment didn’t surprise me. I spent the first nine years of my career as a public health microbiologist in South Carolina at the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s State Public Health Laboratory. South Carolina already had disease reporting requirements in place and the cutting-edge laboratory technology needed for testing. Together with skilled epidemiologists, these laid the groundwork for an effective response to a pandemic that, nationwide, has now claimed more than 100,000 U.S. lives.

Knowing where to look

The first step was scaling up testing…
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Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: A new review of several studies shows flaws in research and no benefit

 

Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: A new review of several studies shows flaws in research and no benefit

President Trump says he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive for the coronavirus. Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Courtesy of C. Michael White, University of Connecticut

President Donald Trump revealed on May 18, 2020 that he was taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent contracting COVID-19. News media reports run the gamut from saying hydroxychloroquine is 91% effective to it being both ineffective and dangerous. How do people know what to believe?

Our Health Outcomes, Policy, and Evidence Synthesis (HOPES) group at the University of Connecticut has conducted many high profile projects in the past, studying conditions such as cystic fibrosis and asthma. We published an assessment on May 27, 2020, of all of the controlled studies that have been conducted around the world through May 8, 2020, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Like our other projects, we used search strategies and methods that are sanctioned by international bodies like the Cochrane Group to determine whether hydroxychloroqune was effective and safe. Based on the media reports you have heard, the results may surprise you.

There are no controlled studies, says the author, that assess the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent the coronavirus. Getty Images / AFP / George Frey

What did we find?

We focused our assessment on controlled studies, those that compare the effects of a drug in one group versus those who did not receive therapy in another. This is critical when establishing the effectiveness of a therapy because without it, the results are meaningless. If 100 people took hydroxychloroquine and 10 died, it could mean that therapy was great if 20 were going to die without it but horrible if two were going to die.

The first thing we found is that there are no controlled studies assessing the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent getting COVID-19. So there is no evidence one way of the other that you can prevent COVID-19 by taking hydroxychloroquine.

We did find 14…
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Trump Vaccine Czar Still Stands to Profit

 

Will there really be several hundred million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, which would be record fast vaccine develop, or is this just wishful thinking? Moncef Slaoui, former executive at GlaxoSmithKline and board member of Moderna (till recently) and newly appointed Trump official, says the vaccine will be ready. Either way, Moderna (MRNA) has received nearly half a billion dollars from the government, and its stock price has soared. Amee Vanderpool tells more of the story: 

 

Trump Vaccine Czar Still Stands to Profit

Courtesy of Amee Vanderpool, SHERO 

The Trump administration has announced an ambitious plan to develop and produce millions of doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, a lofty and risky process that stands to shift conventional wisdom about the vaccine process and seems to have yielded substantial stock profits for the pharmaceutical executive Trump has appointed to lead the initiative.

On May 15, in a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump and his deputies rolled out an initiative to speed up access to a vaccine for the novel coronavirus while calling it, “Operation Warp Speed.” At the time, Trump admitted the project was “risky and expensive” and Gustave Perna, a four-star general who oversees logistics for the U.S. Army, called the task “Herculean.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper has pledged to deliver a vaccine to the U.S. and its foreign partners by the end of the year.

Interestingly, this new messaging on the “impending” vaccine has been hyped by the White House at the same time that some states with Republican governors have been re-opening businesses within their localities, despite the warnings from the CDC and the guidelines set out by the White House.

(Trump delivers remarks and an update on COVID-19 vaccine development from White House Rose Garden on May 15, 2020.)

Continue reading at SHERO > 

Image by pearson0612 from Pixabay

 





Coronavirus in States

Via Jean Luc 

Good Twitter thread about cases around US states:

https://twitter.com/TopherSpiro/status/1265007908707860487

According to the best-performing model, transmission will be widespread throughout the summer. Very high baseline incidence heading into fall.

Look at the entire thread with some good charts. Some states are careening toward trouble it seems!





Rich and poor don’t recover equally from epidemics. Rebuilding fairly will be a global challenge

 

Rich and poor don't recover equally from epidemics. Rebuilding fairly will be a global challenge

www.shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Ilan Noy, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, disaster recovery plans are almost always framed with aspirational plans to “build back better”. It’s a fine sentiment – we all want to build better societies and economies. But, as the Cheshire Cat tells Alice when she is lost, where we ought to go depends very much on where we want to get to.

The ambition to build back better therefore needs to be made explicit and transparent as countries slowly re-emerge from their COVID-19 cocoons.

The Asian Development Bank attempted last year to define build-back-better aspirations more precisely and concretely. The bank described four criteria: build back safer, build back faster, build back potential and build back fairer.

The first three are obvious. We clearly want our economies to recover fast, be safer and be more sustainable into the future. It’s the last objective – fairness – that will inevitably be the most challenging long-term goal at both the national and international level.

Economic fallout from the pandemic is already being experienced disproportionately among poorer households, in poorer regions within countries, and in poorer countries in general.

Some governments are aware of this and are trying to ameliorate this brewing inequality. At the same time, it is seen as politically unpalatable to engage in redistribution during a global crisis. Most governments are opting for broad-brush policies aimed at everyone, lest they appear to be encouraging class warfare and division or, in the case of New Zealand, electioneering.

Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 tsunami: the impact of disaster is not felt equally by all. www.shutterstock.com

In fact, politicians’ typical focus on the next election aligns well with the public appetite for a fast recovery. We know that speedier recoveries are more complete, as delays dampen investment and people move away from economically depressed places.

Speed is also linked to safety. As we know…
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Memorial Day: Why veterans are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic

 

Memorial Day: Why veterans are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic

U.S. war veterans’ graves at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Courtesy of Jamie Rowen, University of Massachusetts Amherst

As the nation takes a day to memorialize its military dead, those who are living are facing a deadly risk that has nothing to do with war or conflict: the coronavirus.

Different groups face different degrees of danger from the pandemic, from the elderly who are experiencing deadly outbreaks in nursing homes to communities of color with higher infection and death rates. Veterans are among the most hard-hit, with heightened health and economic threats from the pandemic. These veterans face homelessness, lack of health care, delays in receiving financial support and even death.

I have spent the past four years studying veterans with substance use and mental health disorders who are in the criminal justice system. This work revealed gaps in health care and financial support for veterans, even though they have the best publicly funded benefits in the country.

Here are eight ways the pandemic threatens veterans:

1. Age and other vulnerabilities

In 2017, veterans’ median age was 64, their average age was 58 and 91% were male. The largest group served in the Vietnam era, where 2.8 million veterans were exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant linked to cancer.

Younger veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed to dust storms, oil fires and burn pits with numerous toxins, and perhaps as a consequence have high rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Age and respiratory illnesses are both risk factors for COVID-19 mortality. As of May 22, there have been 12,979 people under Veterans Administration care with COVID-19, of whom 1,100 have died.

2. Dangerous residential facilities

Veterans needing end-of-life care, those with cognitive disabilities or those needing substance use treatment often live in crowded VA or state-funded residential facilities.

State-funded “soldiers’ homes” are notoriously starved for money and staff. The horrific situation at the soldiers’ home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where…
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Phil's Favorites

The COVID Comeback

 

The COVID Comeback

Courtesy of Wade Slome, Investing Caffeine

Rocky Balboa (“The Italian Stallion”) the underdog boxer from the movie, Rocky, was down and out until he was given the opportunity to fight World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed. Like the stock market during early 2020, Rocky was up against the ropes and got knocked down, but eventually he picked himself up and rebounded to victory in his rematch with Creed.

The stock market comeback also persisted last month as th...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Antibody injections could fight COVID-19 infections - an infectious disease expert explains the prospects

 

Antibody injections could fight COVID-19 infections – an infectious disease expert explains the prospects

Antibodies (pink) attacking a virus particle (blue). STEVEN MCDOWELL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Courtesy of Dimiter Stanchev Dimitrov, University of Pittsburgh

Antibodies are part of us – literally.

We have billions of them in our bodies with a combined weight of about 100 grams, or about the weight of a bar of soap. If there are so many antibodies inside our b...



more from Biotech/COVID-19

Zero Hedge

Chicago May Delay Reopening Because Of Riots: Virus Updates

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Summary:

  • Chicago may delay reopening
  • Florida reports jump of just 0,.4%
  • India now home to world's 7th biggest outbreak
  • Brazil passes 500k cases
  • Russia reports highest jump in new cases in weeks as easing begins
  • UK begins unwinding lockdown as daily deaths slow
  • Japan mulls plan to let some tourists back in

* * *

Update (1215E...



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ValueWalk

How Can We Address the Cybersecurity Skills Gap?

By Dale Strickland. Originally published at ValueWalk.

A 2019 report from Burning Glass noted a 94% growth in the number of cybersecurity job postings since 2013. Unfortunately, the available pool workers with the cybersecurity skills needed to fulfill these roles has risen in proportion, creating a significant gap. What can be done to increase the available pool of candidates?

Q1 2020 hedg...



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Chart School

Silver volume says something is near boiling point

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Fundamentals are important, but they must show up in the chart. And when they do and if they may matter, it is a good sign if price and volume waves show a change of character.

The Point and Figure chart below is readtheticker.com version of PnF chart format, it is designed to highlight price and volume waves clearly (notice the Volume Hills chart).

Silver ETF volume is screaming at us! The price volatility along with volume tells us those who have not cared, are starting to, those who are wrong are adjusting, and those who are correct are loading up. Soon the kettle will blow and the price of silver will be over $20. 

Normally silver suffers in a recession, maybe this time with trillions of paper money being creat...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Tech Indicator Suggesting A Historic Top Could Be Forming?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Tech stocks have been the clear leader of the stock market recovery rally, this year and since the lows back in 2007!

But within the ranks of leadership, and an important ratio may be sending a caution message to investors.

In today’s chart, we look at the ratio of large-cap tech stocks (the Nasdaq 100 Index) to the broader tech market (the Nasdaq Composite) on a “monthly” basis.

The large-cap concentrated Nasdaq 100 (only 100 stocks) has been the clear leader for several years versus the ...



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The Technical Traders

M2 Velocity Collapses - Could A Bottom In Capital Velocity Be Setting Up?

Courtesy of Technical Traders

M2 Velocity is the measurement of capital circulating within the economy.  The faster capital circulates within the economy, the more that capital is being deployed within the economy to create output and opportunities for economic growth.  When M2 Velocity contracts, capital is being deployed in investments or assets that prevent that capital from further circulation within the economy – thus preventing further output and opportunity growth features.

The decline in M2 Velocity over the past 10+ years has been dramatic and consistent with the dramatic new zero US Federal Reserve interest rates initiated since just after the 2008 credit crisis market colla...



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Lee's Free Thinking

US Southern States COVID19 Cases - Let's Give Credit Where Due

 

US Southern States COVID19 Cases – Let’s Give Credit Where Due

Courtesy of  

The number of new COVID 19 cases has been falling in the Northeast, but the South is not having the same experience. The number of new cases per day in each Southern state has been rangebound for the past month.

And that’s assuming that the numbers haven’t been manipulated. We know that in Georgia’s case at least, they have been. And there are suspicions about Florida as well, as the State now engages in a smear campaign against the fired employee who built its much praised COVID19 database and dashboar...



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Digital Currencies

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

 

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

App-etising? LDprod

Courtesy of Michael Rogerson, University of Bath and Glenn Parry, University of Surrey

Food supply chains were vulnerable long before the coronavirus pandemic. Recent scandals have ranged from modern slavery ...



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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.