Category Archives: Science

Covid-19: Can A Vaccine Be Developed That Lasts?

“Roughly two and a half years into the pandemic, White House officials and health experts have reached a pivotal conclusion about Covid-19 vaccines: The current approach of offering booster shots every few months isn’t sustainable.

Though most vaccines take years to develop, the Covid shots now in use were created in record time—in a matter of months. For health authorities and a public desperate for tools to deal with the pandemic, their speedy arrival provided a huge lift, preventing hospitalizations and deaths while helping people to escape lockdowns and return to work, school and many other aspects of pre-Covid life.”

Weight Gain: How Lack Of Sleep Makes You Hungrier

Did you know that not getting enough zzz’s can actually make you hungrier? According to sleep scientist Matt Walker, the relationship between what you eat and your sleep is a two-way street. Here’s why understanding it can help you improve your overall health.

Sleep — we spend one-third of our lives doing it, but what exactly do we get out of it? And how can we do it better? In this TED series, sleep scientist Matt Walker uncovers the facts and secrets behind our nightly slumber. (Made possible with the support of Oura) Check out more episodes on TED.com: https://go.ted.com/sleepingwithscience

Brain Research: The Many Benefits Of Healthy Sleep

COVID-19: HOW BIONTECH USED ITS CANCER RESEARCH TO CREATE A VACCINE (CNBC)

Over a month and a half before the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic, BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin met with his wife, BioNTech’s co-founder and chief medical officer Özlem Türeci, and together they agreed to redirect most of the company’s resources to developing a vaccine. Up until that point, BioNTech was little-known internationally and primarily focused on developing novel cancer treatments. The founders were confident in the potential of their mRNA technology, which they knew could trigger a powerful immune response. That confidence wasn’t necessarily shared by the broader medical community. No mRNA vaccine or treatment had ever been approved before. But the couple’s timely breakthrough was actually decades in the making. CNBC spoke with Şahin and Türeci about how they, along with Pfizer, created a Covid-19 vaccine using mRNA.

COMMENTARY:

This commentary concerns a video showing aspects of the development of MRNA vaccines. It is all about Pfizer’s German partner, BioNtech, which manufactures the vaccine. They have produced the bulk of the worlds mRNA vaccines, due to Pfizer‘s great financial strength and  experience in marketing.

Moderna, a wholly American company and by comparison a small fry, has also been doing decades of work with mRNA platform technology, mainly on cancer treatment.

With $800 million from the U.S. government, Moderna was able to scale up their manufacturing process and deliver a vaccine, approved by the FDA, shortly after Pfizer did so.

These vaccines were made possible by two technical advances.
The first advance was in substituting pseudouridine for uridine in the mRNA, so that the target cells natural defenses would not destroy it. The second involves coating the mRNA with a nano size particle to get it into the target cell.

Each of these advances will probably receive a Nobel prize, and is an elegant example of the sophistication of modern  biotechnology.

—Dr. C.

SCIENCE & MEDICINE: STORY BEHIND THE MRNA VACCINES

As mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are deployed to protect hundreds of millions of people across the world from the deadly global pandemic, the University of Pennsylvania scientists whose research breakthroughs laid the foundation for swift vaccine development have been awarded the 2021 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Here, mRNA vaccine pioneers Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, and Katalin Karikó, PhD, share the story behind their development of this groundbreaking technology, and what it means for the future of medicine.

SCIENCE: CLEANING INDOOR AIR WILL IMPROVE HUMAN HEALTH AND COGNITION

Read full article

COMMENTARY:

Joseph Allen, the “air investigator”, was apparently on board early in the COVID-19 epidemic, stressing the importance of suspended  air particulates, less than 2 microns in size, causing transmission of the disease.

His article in Science: “clean indoor air will improve human health and cognition” is well worth reading, or at least inspecting the info graphic. As a practicing allergist, I was aware that inside dust mite particles and mold spores made allergies worse. We had a service where we would go into homes and sample the air. An excess of certain Indoor mold spores, compared with those outside, would indicate a “problem home”. We would then try to find the water leakage source that produced the molds.

I also had a patient who could not tolerate a new house, with its carpets and other artificial materials. The only place where she felt better was in an old seaside house 100 miles south of San Francisco. I thought there were some psychological factors, but who knows? Volatile organic compounds, VOCs, probably affect some people more severely.

Beginning shortly after the energy crisis in the 80s, the “sick building syndrome”, characterized by headache and fatigue in certain buildings, was on the news. The eventual solution was to create better ventilation, with a reduction of CO2 and VOCs in those buildings. In addition, federal agencies began banning certain artificial  fabrics that out-gassed VOCs.

There was eventually less talk about sick building syndrome, except for the occasional air system which was contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The present article stresses accumulation of CO2 and VOCs In the stale air in the individual home or office as a cause of diminished attention and productivity.

CO2 monitors still cost about $200, and so I think I am going to just try to increase the ventilation in my office, where I get sleepy in the afternoon, by opening the windows and sliding doors. I wonder about  the indoor CO2 in Scandinavian winters, where depression is increased.

—Dr. C.