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  • Covid-19

    The New Mutations

    OK, time to write about the topic that’s been the talk of the coronavirus world the last day or two: the new strain that has been detected in the UK. I’ll go ahead and put the bottom line right here, and then go into the details: I’m not sounding any alarm bells, but this does… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Antibody-Dependent Enhancement

    I’ve had several questions about antibody-dependent enhancement, which has always been a worry as the coronavirus vaccines have been developed. I figured it might be worth a look at just what we know about it, why one might be worried, and why (on the other hand) one might be hopeful. The simple definition of ADE… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Autoantibody Problems

    Here’s a preprint from a large team at Yale with a close look at a less-studied aspect of coronavirus infection. It’s been well established by now that a feature of severe cases is a misfiring immune response (the “cytokine storm”, etc.), and one reason that fatality rates have been going down for hospitalized cases is… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Baricitinib Follow-Up: An AI Prediction for Coronavirus Therapy

    I wanted to follow up on something that came up much earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Back in February, a group at BenevolentAI proposed the kinase inhibitor baricitinib as a possible therapeutic for the coronavirus. They identified this through their company’s machine-learning approach to the medical literature and disease mechanisms, an… Read More
  • Covid-19

    A Wider Variety of Vaccine Platforms Report

    Well, it’s definitely been a Vaccine Week around here, but it’s understandable. And we’ll finish off the week with a look at some types that we haven’t seen report yet. The news is. . .mixed. First off is a preliminary report on the inactivated virus vaccine from Sinopharm – more specifically, their China National Biot… Read More
  • Covid-19

    The Latest on Coronavirus Mutations

    For people looking for an accessible writeup on the coronavirus mutational landscape, I can recommend this Reuters article that came out today. It has a lot of good information in it, and a lot of very well-made graphics to show what’s going on. Past blog posts on this subject are here, here, here, here, and… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    The Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine Efficacy Data

    We now have a complete writeup of the efficacy data from the Oxford/AZ vaccine effort in The Lancet, and I’m glad to see it. There have been a number of questions about this candidate and its effects in the clinic, so the chance to get a closer look is welcome. This is of course the… Read More
  • Covid-19

    The FDA Weighs Its First Coronavirus Vaccine

    Pfizer and BioNTech have a date on Thursday in front of an FDA advisory committee to review their vaccine data, and the briefing document is available for all to read (here’s the FDA’s own document as well). It’s very interesting stuff, and far more information than we’ve had so far. First off, safety. There continue… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Gene Therapy, Absolutely and For Real

    This weekend brought some really significant news in the long-running effort to use gene editing to treat human disease. As most readers will have heard, Boston Children’s Hospital and a Vertex/CRISPR effort both published papers in the NEJM addressing sickle-cell anemia and beta-thalassemia. (Update: edit to fix attribution). These diseases… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Get Ready for False Side Effects

    We’re in the beginning of the vaccine endgame now: regulatory approval and actual distribution/rollout into the population. The data for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines continue to look good (here’s a new report on the longevity of immune response after the Moderna one), with the J&J and Novavax efforts still to report. The… Read More