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Cancer Immunotherapy Developers in Asia Explore Diverse Approaches

How might one gauge the contributions of selected geographical regions to cancer immunotherapy? Initially, one might assess cancer incidence and prevalence…

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How might one gauge the contributions of selected geographical regions to cancer immunotherapy? Initially, one might assess cancer incidence and prevalence numbers, research and development expenditures, papers published in peer-reviewed journals, etc. By consulting such proxy figures, one might at least get a rough idea of how much attention one should devote to developments in different regions.

For example, market research figures suggest that roughly equal attention should be paid to developments in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific regions. By 2027, the market sizes for these regions—according to Market Data Forecast—will be about $50 billion, $42 billion, and $33 billion, respectively. (The Asia-Pacific region’s market size is somewhat smaller, but this region’s growth rate is the highest, at 13.2%.)

Such broad figures tell us only so much. To learn more, we need to shift from high-level to low-level views. For example, we could get a feel for cancer immunotherapy developments in Asia by looking at the interesting things individual companies are doing. That’s what we’ll do in this article, which focuses on the advances that are being made by just a few commercially oriented institutions, all of which are located in Asia—in East Asia and Southeast Asia, to be slightly more precise. Each exemplifies creativity, drive, and humanity. Together, they make for a story that is more compelling than any high-level summation.

Drugs targeting intracellular oncoproteins

Qi Zeng, PhD
Research Director, A*STAR

Most antibody-based cancer drugs target molecules that appear on the outer surfaces of cancer cells or are secreted by cancer cells. “Antibodies are generally believed to be too large to enter cells,” says Qi Zeng, PhD, research director at A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. “What this means is there is a large untapped pool of intracellular therapeutic targets, such as phosphatases, kinases, and transcription factors.”

For the last 20 years, Zeng has been studying the intracellular PRL3 protein that is overexpressed in many tumors but undetectable in most normal tissues for tumor-specific novel cancer immunotherapy. “In 2008,” she recalls, “we demonstrated that PRL3 antibody could specifically inhibit tumors expressing intracellular PRL3 oncoproteins.”

“We found that when cancer cells are stressed or are dying, PRL3 could be found on their surfaces or in the tumor microenvironment, enabling antibody binding and therapy,” she continues. “When PRL3-zumab was tested in multiple mouse models of cancer, we found that the antibody could bind to PRL3 to trigger an immune response against tumors, causing tumor shrinkage by as much as 90%.”

In 2015, Zeng founded an A*STAR spinoff company, Singapore-based Intra-ImmuSG (IISG), to develop PRL3-zumab, a first-in-class humanized antibody, to treat multiple PRL3-positive cancers. “The main advantage of this system,” she points out, “is that compared to the use of small chemical inhibitors in chemotherapy, antibody therapy like PRL3-zumab is more target specific, which helps to minimize off-target side effects.”

Since its inception, IISG has reached several milestones. In 2019, PRL3-zumab commenced Phase II trials for gastric and hepatocellular carcinoma in Singapore. A year later, Phase II trials were also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and China’s National Medical Products Administration for all solid tumors.

“We are hoping to accelerate our process to recruit patients for clinical trials,” Zeng states. “Patients eligible for PRL3-zumab treatment typically have run out of all standard-of-care treatments. By then, the patients’ immune system is very weak and their response to treatment may not be as strong as we would hope.

“Targeting intracellular cancer-specific antigens would significantly enhance antibody immunotherapy [by opening] doors to a wide range of targets, including tumor-specific mutated intracellular proteins and intracellular mediators of cancer cell survival. We look forward to pioneering a new era of cancer immunotherapy.”

Light-activated tumor-targeting moieties

Many cancer therapies lack specificity and are associated with adverse side effects. “We have developed an investigational platform that makes use of photoimmunotherapy for cancer treatment,” says Takashi Toraishi, PhD, president of Rakuten Medical, a global biotechnology firm with offices in San Diego, Tokyo, Taipei City, and elsewhere. The company’s platform, which is called Alluminox, consists of a drug, a device, and other related components.

“The drug component of the platform consists of a targeting moiety conjugated with one or more dyes leading to selective cell surface binding,” Toraishi details. “The device component consists of a light source that locally illuminates the targeted cells with nonthermal light to activate the drug.

“Research is being done on therapies developed on the Alluminox platform to determine if local and systemic innate and adaptive immune activation occur due to immunogenic cell death of the targeted cells and/or the removal of immunosuppressive elements within the tumor microenvironment. In September of 2020, we received the first approval of our lead asset (ASP-1929) in Japan, and in January of 2021, we started marketing products including a device for illumination. Currently, our new treatment is provided by a growing number of sites and doctors across Japan.”

Alluminox photoimmunotherapies proceed as follows: Patients are administered a drug that binds to targeted cancer cells. After about 24 hours, a nonthermal light dose is applied, activating the drug so that it induces rapid and selective necrosis with minimal side effects on surrounding tissues.

“[Our] longer-term vision … is to generate a ‘palette’ of Alluminox conjugates targeting a variety of cancer antigens,” Toraishi declares. “Alluminox Palette is a drug discovery program that develops drugs using various tumor-targeting moieties such as antibodies, peptides, proteins, and small molecules.

“The first Alluminox Palette programs under clinical development consist of monoclonal antibody-IRDye 700DX conjugates targeting various tumor and immune cell antigens. These include ASP-1929, an antibody dye conjugate consisting of cetuximab (an anti-EGFR antibody) and RM-1995 (a conjugate of an anti-CD25 antibody targeting CD25-positive regulatory T cells).”

Toraishi notes that RM-1995 is Rakuten Medical’s second pipeline asset to reach clinical trials. He adds that the company aims to “combine multiple conjugates from the Alluminox Palette” and to “expand therapies based on the Alluminox platform for the treatment of a range of solid tumors.”

Engineered T cells targeting liver cancer

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) can establish persistent infections that cause chronic hepatic inflammation, leading to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although antiviral therapies for HCV have delivered remarkable cure rates, curative therapies for HBV remain unavailable.

To develop new therapies against HBV—and to eliminate HBV-related HCC—the scientists at Singapore-based Lion TCR decided to conduct research into “new and more radical therapies designed to eliminate or at least stably maintain low levels of HBV replication under the control of a functional anti-host response.”

The quote above comes from a journal article (Cytotherapy 2017; 19: 1317–1324) written by Antonio Bertoletti, MD, Anthony Tan, PhD, and Sarene Koh, PhD—the scientific founder and chairman, a scientific advisor, and the director of technology and manufacturing at Lion TCR, respectively. In their work at Lion TCR, the scientists have focused on the development of T-cell therapies for HBV.

Lion TCR illustration
Lion TCR, a spinoff company from Singapore’s A*STAR, specializes in the development and commercialization of engineered T-cell receptor (TCR) products against infectious disease and its associated cancers. For example, the company engineers hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific T cells that can recognize HBV-expressing tumor cells and achieve targeted killing.

Even before Lion TCR was founded in 2015, the company’s scientists had amassed considerable experience characterizing HBV T-cell responses and T-cell receptors (TCRs) in HBV-related diseases, says Tina Wang, MD, PhD, chief operating officer and chief medical officer of Lion TCR. She adds that the scientists also provided—first in xenograft mice and then in patients—the proof of concept that HBV-specific TCR T cells can recognize HBV antigen expressed in HCC and thus treat HBV-related HCC.

“A few years later,” she declares, “the technology was demonstrated to have clinical efficacy in humans.” Moreover, Lion TCR has established the world’s largest HBV-specific TCR library, covering about 80% of the population in China, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Finally, the company has developed LioCyx-M, an autologous T-cell product transiently modified with in vitro–transcribed mRNA encoding HBV-specific TCR.

“The advantage of our product is that the expression of the HBV-specific TCR wanes within a week after the mRNA introduced to the cells via electroporation is translated,” Wang explains. “This safety feature makes LioCyx-M suitable for use in advanced cancer patients to reduce primary tumor burden and metastases and potentially also in HBV chronic infection.”

Wang remarks that another advantage of LioCyx-M treatment is that its therapeutic efficacy is independent of tumor heterogeneity. “HBV-DNA integrations are presented in 80–90% of HBV-related HCC cells,” she elaborates. “Epitopes encoded by these HBV-DNA integrations that assemble with MHC class I molecules on cell surfaces thus serve as ideal targets for T cells as HBV-specific TCR T-cell-mediated tumor killing is independent of oncogenic status of HCC tumor cells.”

Last September, Lion TCR received clearance from the FDA for its Investigational New Drug (IND) application to assess LioCyx-M as a treatment for HBV-related HCC. At the time, the company indicated that it intended to start a Phase Ib/II multicenter study to analyze LioCyx-M as a monotherapy as well as a combination therapy with lenvatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Since then, the company has received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for LioCyx-M for the treatment of HBV-related HCC.

Stem cell–based modeling and screening systems

“In recent years, stem cell research has made remarkable advances,” says Pengtao Liu, PhD, professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Hong Kong and director of the Center for Translational Stem Cell Biology (CTSCB). “At CTSCB, we are deriving Expanded Potential Stem Cells (EPSCs) from patients to study immune disorders and develop personalized ‘assays’ for evaluating immune responses and assessing drug candidates.”

Conventional embryonic stem cells are derived from the blastocyst, a pre-embryonic structure of about 70–100 cells that forms about five days after fertilization. In contrast, EPSCs are established from much younger pre-embryonic structures that consist of as few as four cells. Accordingly, EPSCs are more primitive than embryonic stem cells and have higher developmental potential.

“The advantages of using human EPSCs are that they are robust in culture and genetically and epigenetically stable,” Liu maintains. “They also permit efficient precision genome editing and can generate all types of cells examined so far—including engineered immune cells that may provide a new cell source for cell-based cancer immunotherapy.”

CTSCB researchers are engineering and differentiating EPSCs into genetically defined stem cell–based immune cell and tissue organoid models to study crosstalk phenomena. “At CTSCB,” Liu declares, “we strive to translate scientific discoveries into both commercial successes and healthcare benefits, and we are expecting a spinoff this year.”

PD-1-based DNA vaccines

Cancer vaccines can prevent cancer by relying on the ability of dendritic cells to induce antigen-specific immune responses. Unfortunately, this antigen process pathway is usually inefficient, resulting in low vaccine efficacy.

Determined to overcome this problem, Zhiwei Chen, PhD, DVM, professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, began focusing on the development of PD-1-based DNA vaccine technology. To help commercialize the technology, Chen co-founded Immuno Cure BioTech in 2015.

“In our patented technology, the DNA vaccine encodes a PD-1-fused antigen,” says Michael Wong, PhD, Immuno Cure’s research and development director. “The unique design of the PD-1-fused antigen allows effective antigen targeting toward the PD-1 ligands expressed on dendritic cells for antigen capture and presentation.

Michael Wong
Michael Wong, PhD
R&D Director
Immuno Cure BioTech

“At the same time, the PD-1-fused antigens also enhance dendritic cell activation. These two effects facilitate a potent induction of protective immune responses against cancers, allowing substantial improvement of prevention and treatment outcomes.”

Immuno Cure’s PD-1-based DNA vaccine platform can be used in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat mesothelioma and breast cancer in preclinical animal models synergistically. In particular, PD-1-based DNA vaccination has also been shown to significantly enhance antitumor T-cell immunity, providing sustained therapeutic effect against established mesothelioma when combined with CTLA-4 blockade in mice.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Immuno Cure maintains satellite offices in Shenzhen and Beijing. According to Wong, the company is “aiming to provide quick responses to emerging infectious diseases, cancers, and inflammatory diseases using our technology platforms at reasonably low cost for the benefit of mankind.” It is currently conducting a Phase I trial of a COVID-19 vaccine.

CAR T cells and host T cells working in tandem

Although chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells are generally effective against so-called liquid cancers, they are usually defeated by solid tumors. “This is because solid tumors are a mass of cells and CAR T cells need to be able to infiltrate inside them,” says Koji Tamada, MD, PhD, professor of immunology at Yamaguchi University and president and CEO of Noile-Immune Biotech. “Furthermore, solid tumors are highly heterogeneous, and most CAR T-cell products recognize only one cancer antigen target.”

“When I started my professorship at Yamaguchi University in 2011,” Tamada relates, “I knew I had to find strategies to enhance accumulation of CAR T cells and to enhance polyclonal T-cell response.” In 2015, Tamada established Noile-Immune Biotech in Tokyo. In 2018, Tamada led a team of Yamaguchi- and company-affiliated scientists that engineered CAR T cells to express interleukin-7 (IL-7) and CCL19. The scientists reported (Adachi et al. Nature Biotechnology 2018; 36: 346–351) that in mice, these CAR T cells “achieved complete regression of preestablished solid tumors and prolonged mouse survival, with superior antitumor activity compared with conventional CAR-T cells.”

“Our choice of IL-7 and CCL19 stems from our understanding that T-zone fibroblastic reticular cells in the lymph nodes produce these biomolecules to recruit T cells,” Tamada details. “We wanted to exploit a natural way to make our CAR T cells more powerful. This is the basis of our Proliferating-Inducing and Migration-Enhancing (PRIME) technology.”

In addition to the efficacy from administered CAR T cells, PRIME technology also boosts endogenous T-cell and dendritic cell responses, with the potential to convert “cold” tumors to “hot” tumors. This is a powerful approach to induce host T-cell responses against target-negative cancer cells and to generate long-term memory T-cell responses.

Noile-Immune Biotech currently has three products in Phase I trials—two are licensed exclusively to Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and one is under development in-house. The company is also collaborating with other companies working on autologous immune cell derivation and gene editing.

“Our five-year vision for the company,” Tamada declares, “is to combine and expand PRIME technology with other promising technologies such as induced pluripotent stem cell–derived T cells and natural killer cells to improve care for
cancer patients.”

The post Cancer Immunotherapy Developers in Asia Explore Diverse Approaches appeared first on GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

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Government

Cruise Line Drops Pre-Cruise Covid Testing Rule

The major cruise lines walk a delicate line. They need to take the actual steps required to keep their passengers safe and they also need to be aware of…

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The major cruise lines walk a delicate line. They need to take the actual steps required to keep their passengers safe and they also need to be aware of how things look to the outside public. It's a mix of practical covid policy balanced with covid theater.

You have to do the right thing -- and Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report have been doing that with very meticulous protocols-- but you also have to show the general public you're taking the pandemic seriously. The cruise industry has been under the microscope of both public perception and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since covid first appeared.

That's not because you're likely to get infected on a cruise ship than at a concert, sporting event, theme park, restaurant, or any other crowded space. It's because when you get sick at one of those locations nobody can pinpoint the source of your infection

Cruises last from 3 days to 7 days or even longer and that means that some people will get covid onboard and that will be blamed on the cruise industry. To mitigate that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian have rigid protocols in place that require passengers 12 and over to be vaccinated as well as pre-cruise covid tests taken no more than two days before your cruise leaves.

Once cruise line has dropped that testing requirement (at least on a few sailings) and that could lead Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian to follow. 

Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty

Holland America Drops Some Covid Testing

As the largest cruise lines sailing from the U.S., Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian don't want to be the first to make major covid policy changes. They acted more or less in tandem when it came to loosening, then dropping mask rules and have generally followed the lead of the CDC, even when that agency's rules became optional.

Now, Holland America cruise line has dropped pre-cruise covid testing on a handful of cruises. It's a minor move, but it does provide cover and precedent for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian to eventually do the same.

"Holland America Line becomes the first US-based cruise line to remove testing for select cruises. Unfortunately for those taking a cruise from the United States, the new protocols are only in place for certain cruises onboard the company’s latest ship, the Rotterdam, in Europe," Cruisehive reported.

The current CDC guidelines do recommend pre-cruise testing, but the cruise lines into following those rules. By picking cruises sailing out of Europe, Holland America avoids picking a fight with the federal agency just yet, but it will be able to gather data as to whether the pre-cruise testing actually helps.

Holland America has not changed its vaccination requirements for those cruises which mirror the 12-and-up rule used by Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian.

Some guests have called for the end of the testing requirement because they believe it's more theater than precaution because people can test and then contract covid while traveling to their cruise.

The Current Cruise Protocols Work

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley does expect changes to come in his cruise line's covid protocols, and he talked about them during Royal Caribbean's recent President's Cruise, the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.

"I think pre cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months," Bayley told passengers during a question and answer session. "We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

People do still get covid onboard despite the crew being 100% vaccinated and all passengers 12 and over being vaccinated, but the protocols have worked well when it comes to preventing serious illness.

Bayley said that the CDC shared some information with him in a call.

"The cruise industry sailing out of the US ports over the past 12 months and how many people have been hospitalized with Covid and how many deaths occurred from Covid from people who'd sailed on the industry's ships, which is in the millions," he said, "And the number of people who died from COVID who'd sailed on ships over the past year was two."

That success may be why the major cruise lines are reluctant to make changes. The current rules, even if they're partially for show, have been incredibly effective.

"Two is terrible. But but but against the context of everything we've seen, that's it's truly been a remarkable success." he added.

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Government

The Insufferable Arrogance Of The Constantly Wrong

The Insufferable Arrogance Of The Constantly Wrong

Authored by Clayton Fox via The Brownstone Institute,

The media, and the people who work…

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The Insufferable Arrogance Of The Constantly Wrong

Authored by Clayton Fox via The Brownstone Institute,

The media, and the people who work in and around it, the Blue Checks™ of Twitter, have upped the ante over the past few years regarding how far they are willing to go to enforce various preferred narratives. 

Pick any major story of the past three years - e.g. Lab LeakJussie SmollettRussiagateUkrainian BiolabsIvermectinHospitalizations From COVID v. With CovidJanuary 6th‘Transitory’ Inflation, and of course Hunter’s Laptop - and you will find absolutely hysterical narrative pushing up front followed by retractions, corrections, and outright denials as reality became undeniable. 

In the meanwhile, our civilization was ripped apart, our citizens were gaslit and impoverished, and in countries across the Western world, innocent people were removed from polite society, branded as lepers, and fired from their jobs. 

Why? Because there is one story that just won’t die and for which no corrections have been issued - the shibboleth that vaccination can prevent infection, transmission, and help “end” COVID.

While there is never an excuse for hateful rhetoric towards, and intervention in, the personal medical choices of law-abiding Americans, perhaps one could have, kinda sorta, understood the campaign if the new vaccines had provided long-lasting immunity and prevented community transmission. They do not. 

Early on we were told: “Nine out of ten [vaccinated] people won’t get sick” (Columbia University feat. Run-DMC, February 12th, 2021, no this is not a joke); “Vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don`t get sick” (Dr. Rochelle Walensky, March 29th, 2021); “When people are vaccinated, they can feel safe that they are not going to get infected” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, May 17th, 2021). 

And by mid-summer, 2021, we were still being told that unequivocally, these vaccines were a resounding success worthy of uncritical support. On July 27th in Scientific American, Dr. Eric Topol wrote, “Vaccination is the closest thing to a sure thing we have in this pandemic.” Not to be outdone, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIAID told CBS on August 1st, that the unvaccinated were responsible for “propagating this outbreak.” 

But on July 29th, 2021, the Washington Post reported a scoop that the CDC was privately acknowledging that the vaccinated could spread COVID as easily as the unvaccinated. Occasionally, they are forced to report inconvenient facts. And August 5th, CDC Director Walensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that, “They continue to work well for Delta, with regard to severe illness and death — they prevent it. But what they can’t do anymore is prevent transmission.”

While there is a mountain of medical literature available demonstrating quite clearly the failure of these vaccines to prevent infection and transmission, the August 5th declaration from the CDC Director should have made clear that being vaccinated is contributing in no way to the safety of others, nor to the eradication of this virus. 

In fact, Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz was even caught on tape in September of last year explaining that the use of the Israeli Green Pass wasn’t intended to make a difference epidemiologically, but because it would help convince people to get vaccinated. And even vaccine poobah Bill Gates admitted in a late 2021 interview, that, “We got vaccines to help you with your health, but they only slightly reduce the transmissions.”

So there should be no question that continuing to suggest in any way that these shots are a panacea, and that those who refused to get them were plague spreaders, should have been thoroughly trashed by Fall 2021. 

Nonetheless, on September 24th President Joe Biden coined his now famous phrase “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” To our north, Prime Minister Trudeau called the unvaccinated science deniers, misogynists, and racists, and asked rhetorically whether Canadians should “tolerate” them. 

And during the first week of January 2022, while kicking the unvaccinated out of French daily life and public spaces, French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted the measures to “piss off” his unvaccinated citizens. With world leaders speaking this way, it’s no wonder so many Blue Check™ elites took up the banner! 

Prominent media figures like Amy Siskind, Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten, and more have come out of the woodwork in recent months to share with us their enthusiasm for medical discrimination. Noted neurotic Howard Stern is all in on forced vaccination due to what must be his own debilitating fear of his mortality. Bill Kristol says the unvaccinated have “blood on their hands.” 

David Frum, heir to Maimonides, writes, “Let the hospitals quietly triage emergency care to serve the unvaccinated last.” Charles M. Blow was “furious” at the unvaccinated. CNN contributor Dr. Leana Wen suggested that the unvaccinated should not be allowed to leave their homes. The Ragin’ Cajun even wants to punch the unvaccinated in the face! 

All of the above links/stories were posted after Dr. Walensky’s unequivocal announcement that the vaccines do not prevent transmission. 

And all of the self-satisfied segregationists are supported in their vitriol by the Blue Checks™ of the Medical Establishment, like Dr. Paul Klotman, President and Executive Dean of the Baylor School of Medicine, who said on camera back in January that he isn’t polite to friends and family who aren’t vaccinated. “Keep them away. I don’t do it respectfully, I tell them to stay away, and teach them a lesson.” Less vitriolic but equally problematic, the WHO’s COVID-19 “technical lead” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove continued to push the lie that vaccination can prevent outbreaks as recently as January 26th, 2022. She is, as well, a Blue Check™. And yes, Dr. Anthony Fauci is still at it, even as of April 14th, 2022, telling MSNBC that harsh Chinese lockdowns could be used to get the population vaccinated so that “When you open up, you won’t have a surge of infections.” 

The examples are legion. Blue Checks, Medical Blue Checks, Times Columnists, Radio Jocks, Presidents, and Prime Ministers have all espoused misinformation and/or hate speech regarding vaccination status. But they are all given intellectual cover by the official reporting of the fourth estate. Even in the face of all the evidence that there is no epidemiological basis for discrimination, our intellectual betters in the legacy media press onward the canard. 

On August 26th, the Toronto Star ran an article entitled, “When it comes to empathy for the unvaccinated, many of us aren’t feeling it.” Then, on December 22nd, published an explainer which stated that two doses won’t stop you from spreading COVID-19. Comme ci, comme ca. 

Back in February, MSNBC political contributor Matthew Dowd shared his insight that the unvaccinated do not believe in the United States Constitution, because if they did, they would get vaccinated for “We The People.” For the common good. 

An examination of the New York Times reveals three articles written this year which overtly continue supporting the idea that the vaccines prevent transmission. First, on January 29th in a piece entitled, “As Covid Shots For Kids Stall, Appeals Are Aimed At Wary Parents,” the author cites “public health officials” who say that to aid in “containing” the pandemic, kids must also be vaccinated. (It is worth mentioning that the current vaccines and boosters being distributed were designed in February 2020 to provide an immune response to a version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein circulating prior to that, not entirely similar to what is circulating now.)

Then February 23rd, in a hit piece on the Surgeon General of Florida Dr. Joe Ladapo, the Times writes, “When public health officials across the country were urging vaccines as a way to end the pandemic, Dr. Ladapo was raising warning flags about possible side effects and cautioning that even vaccinated people could spread the virus.” 

So, Dr. Ladapo was correct? 

Finally, in a piece about Novak Djokovic published March 3rd, they write, “Djokovic was the only player ranked in the top 100 in Australia who had not received a Covid-19 vaccination, which experts have long said will not eradicate the virus unless most of the population receives one.” 

They do not address the question of how a vaccine which does not prevent transmission can eradicate a virus. And they won’t. As Israeli Health Minister Horowitz candidly admitted, none of this is about epidemiology. 

And even when mainstream media tacitly acknowledges the failures of the vaccines to prevent transmission, they skillfully elide the significance of this fact in order to allow them to continue to scapegoat the unvaccinated. In a dazzling display of sophistry, Time Magazine moved the Overton window in this January 12th, 2022 piece, “These Charts Show That COVID-19 Is Still A Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.” 

The author states that due to the rapidly narrowing gap between cases in the vaccinated and unvaccinated, some readers might think that the phrase “pandemic of the unvaccinated” is no longer justifiable. But with the grace of a ballerina, Time goes on to tell us that because the vaccines are still showing efficacy against severe illness, the phrase is still kosher. If an unvaccinated person gets sicker than his vaccinated neighbor who contracted COVID at a fully vaccinated wedding, that unvaccinated person is still the problem!

New York Magazine isn’t lacking in similar gymnastics. On February 16th of this year, Matt Stieb published a piece entitled, “Is Kyrie Irving Going to Get Away With It?” Irving is the Brooklyn Nets player who famously chose not to be vaccinated, and has become a fetish object for the Covidian Left. Stieb acknowledges that Irving’s vaccinated teammates were getting COVID at such high rates that it forced Nets management to allow Irving back to play in away games but still calls the New York City ban on unvaccinated athletes “a rare public health mandate with real teeth.” 

Just seven days later on February 23rd, Will Leitch, in the same publication, sighs, “Unfortunately, It’s Time to Let Kyrie Irving Play in New York.” He outlines all the reasons why epidemiologically it makes no sense to prevent athletes like Irving and Novak Djokovic from participating, but says, “It would feel like they got away with all their bullshit.” And also, they are “annoying.” 

And this barely concealed hatred for the unvaccinated from media and government and Big Tech—even in the rare moments when writers such as Leitch acknowledge the failure of the vaccines to prevent transmission—has real consequences. People have lost their jobs. People have been arrested for trying to go to a movie theater. 

Families got kicked out of restaurants, and patrons either cheered or remained indifferent, which is worse. A teenage boy at an uber-progressive and expensive Chicago prep school committed suicide after being bullied over an incorrect rumor he was unvaccinated. The stench of bad journalism rots people’s basic decency. 

A January Rasmussen poll found that, Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine…Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats would favor governments requiring citizens to temporarily live in designated facilities or locations if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine…”

As well as, “Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Democratic voters would support temporarily removing parents’ custody of their children if parents refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine.” Unfortunately, these disturbing results are politically lopsided, but it’s no surprise when you consider who the readers of most legacy media platforms are. 

The saddest thing is that these media outlets and their flag bearers really think their readers are all morons. The New York Times believes that, in the midst of the Omicron wave as boosted person after boosted person was getting COVID, they could tell you these particular vaccines are still the way to eradicate this thing, and expect you to deny reality and nod your head. 

It calls to mind the quote attributed to Solzhenitsyn (or Elena Gorokhova), “The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.”

We have ceded the better angels of our common cerebrum to people who may not have our best interests at heart, and a sycophantic laptop class who gleefully endorses their diktats and “fact-checks.” Collectively: Sophistry Inc. 

Their behavior, endorsed by every single entity which holds power in our society, is destroying us, and has already poisoned us such that there may be no antidote. Yes, first they came for the unvaccinated, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come for you next.

Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 22:20

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Spread & Containment

UTSW researchers develop rapid COVID-19 test to identify variants in hours

*Click here to watch “The hunt for COVID-19 variants” video Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center *Click here to watch “The hunt for COVID-19 variants”…

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*Click here to watch “The hunt for COVID-19 variants” video

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

*Click here to watch “The hunt for COVID-19 variants” video

 

Last year, pathologist Jeffrey SoRelle, M.D., and colleagues developed CoVarScan, a rapid COVID-19 test that detects the signatures of eight hotspots on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Now, after testing CoVarScan on more than 4,000 patient samples collected at UT Southwestern, the team reports in Clinical Chemistry that their test is as accurate as other methods used to diagnose COVID-19 and can successfully differentiate between all current variants of SARS-CoV-2. 

“Using this test, we can determine very quickly what variants are in the community and if a new variant is emerging,” said Dr. SoRelle, Assistant Professor of Pathology and senior author of the study. “It also has implications for individual patients when we’re dealing with variants that respond differently to treatments.”

The testing results at UT Southwestern’s Once Upon a Time Human Genomics Center have helped public health leaders track the spread of COVID-19 in North Texas and make policy decisions based on the prevalence of variants.  Doctors have also used the results to choose monoclonal antibodies that are more effective against certain strains infecting critically ill COVID-19 patients.

While a number of other tests for COVID-19 exist, they generally detect either a fragment of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material or small molecules found on the surface of the virus, and don’t provide information to identify the variant. In addition, many researchers worry that these tests aren’t accurate in detecting some variants – or may miss future strains. To determine which variant of COVID-19 a patient has, scientists typically must use whole genome sequencing, which is time-consuming and expensive, relying on sophisticated equipment and analysis to spell out the entire RNA sequence contained in the viruses.

In early 2021, Dr. SoRelle and his colleagues at UT Southwestern wanted to track how well current tests were detecting emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2. But they realized that sequencing a lot of specimens would not be timely or cost-effective, so they designed their own test, working in the McDermott Center Next Generation Sequencing Core, part of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development directed by Helen Hobbs, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics.

CoVarScan hones in on eight regions of SARS-CoV-2 that commonly differ between viral variants. It detects small mutations – where the sequence of RNA building blocks varies – and measures the length of repetitive genetic regions that tend to grow and shrink as the virus evolves. The method relies on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) – a technique common in most pathology labs – to copy and measure the RNA at these eight sites of interest. 

To test how well CoVarScan works, Dr. SoRelle’s team ran the test on more than 4,000 COVID-19-positive nasal swab samples collected at UT Southwestern from April 2021 to February 2022 – from patients both with and without symptoms. The tests were validated with the gold-standard whole genome sequencing, and the results were used by doctors to choose treatments in some critically ill COVID-19 patients.  

Compared to whole genome sequencing, CoVarScan had 96% sensitivity and 99% specificity. It identified and differentiated Delta, Mu, Lambda, and Omicron variants of COVID-19, including the BA.2 version of Omicron, once known as “stealth Omicron” because it did not show up on some tests designed to detect only the Omicron strain.

“A common critique of this kind of test is that it requires constant adjustment for new variants, but CoVarScan has not needed any adjustment in more than a year; it is still performing very well,” said Dr. SoRelle. “In the future, if we did need to adjust it, we could easily add as many as 20 or 30 additional hotspots to the test.”

Dr. SoRelle plans to continue developing CoVarScan as a commercial test and has a pending patent application based on this work. As the inventor of the genotyping PCR test for variants, Dr. SoRelle is entitled to income from its use.

Other UTSW researchers who contributed to this study include Andrew Clark, Zhaohui Wang, Emily Ostman, Hui Zheng, Huiyu Yao, Brandi Cantarel, Mohammed Kanchwala, Chao Xing, Li Chen, Pei Irwin, Yan Xu, Dwight Oliver, Francesca Lee, Jeffrey Gagan, Laura Filkins, Alagarraju Muthukumar, Jason Park, and Ravi Sarode.

Dr. Hobbs holds the 1995 Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiology Research, the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology, and the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development. Dr. Sarode holds the John H. Childers, M.D. Professorship in Pathology.

 

 

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year.


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