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  • Clinical Trials

    Challenge Testing

    OK, it’s time to address the topic of challenge testing against the coronavirus epidemic. Let’s define our terms: by this, I mean “deliberately exposing volunteers to infection by the virus in order to evaluate prophylactic treatments by comparison to controls”. I will say at the outset that I am not in favor of this idea… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Pfizer and BioNTech’s First Vaccine Candidate

    We now have a preprint with a great deal of data on the first mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidate from the Pfizer/BioNTech effort. This is actually the first real data set on any of the genetic vaccines, since Moderna’s paper on their Phase I trial has not yet appeared (all we had was a brief press… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Coronavirus Vaccine Update, July 1

    More vaccine news to catch up on – previous updates and specific topic posts on this subject were on June 15, on June 11, on May 26, on May 18 (with two other posts), on May 14, on May 1, on April 23, and on April 15 (author’s note: yikes). Keep in mind that some of those posts were updated… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Africa, African-Americans, and the Coronavirus Vaccines

    I mentioned yesterday in my post about anti-vaccine arguments that there seemed to be suspicions on social media platforms about vaccine testing in Africa. I’ve been looking around for more of that, and finding plenty of it. I’ve also heard from a colleague with some pertinent thoughts about how these things get going, and I… Read More
  • Vaccine Derangement

    I’m working on a new vaccine roundup post for tomorrow – it’s been a couple of weeks, and there’s a lot of news to catch up on. But first off, a comment on vaccines in general. As the prospect of these become more real in the public mind, I’m noticing more and more anti-vaccine takes, from… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Ammonia, Electrons, and Metals

    Let’s do some pure chemistry today, because an interesting paper has come out about a reaction that every student learns about in their sophomore organic chemistry course: the Birch reduction. It’s a powerful technique that will do some things that very few other reactions will do for you (such as break up the aromaticity of… Read More
  • Thoughts on Antibody Persistence and the Pandemic

    The fundamental challenge of dealing with this pandemic is uncertainty. There are just too many important things that we don’t know – and what’s more, they aren’t easy to find out, either. We’ve seen that with the waves of optimism and pessimism about various therapies, just to pick one. As everyone has been learning … Read More
  • Chemical Biology

    A Wide Look at Coronavirus Mutants

    Here’s a new preprint that goes a long way to telling us what we need to know about coronavirus antibodies and Spike protein mutations. It’s from Jesse Bloom’s group at the Fred Hutchinson center in Seattle, and it’s another one of those experiments that you could only do with modern molecular biology (and modern bioinformat… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Dexamethasone for Coronavirus Infection

    News came yesterday from the Recovery trial effort in the UK that they had seen positive results from dexamethasone treatment in severely ill COVID-19 patients (news article from Science here). This set off a number of headlines that everyone has since been trying to deal with, unfortunately, so I thought I should try to do… Read More
  • Drug Assays

    Machine Learning On Top of DNA Encoded Libraries

    DNA-encoded libraries are a technique that many in the field should be familiar with, and they’ve come up many times here on the blog. The basic idea is simple: you build up a set of small molecules with some relatively simple synthetic steps, with plenty of branching at each stage. As a thought experiment, this… Read More
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