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Science Policy Around the Web September 10th, 2020

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By Dorothy Butler, PhD

Image from Pixabay

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine study put on hold due to suspected adverse reaction in participant in the U.K.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, scientists work to find an effective therapeutic or vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. In the United States, Operation Warp Speed–a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and private companies–has invested more than $10 billion in special funding for COVID-19 vaccine development.  Vaccine development was moving at record speed with nine coronavirus vaccines in final phase III clinical trials by the beginning of September.

However, global trials for a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has been put on hold after a suspected adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom. Details of the adverse reaction have not been disclosed, but there is a possibility that it is not connected to the vaccine. While investigations are underway to determine the cause of this reaction, enrolment in trials of this vaccine have been paused in other countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. With the immense pressure to push a vaccine through to approval and many hesitant about the safety of such actions, this clinical hold shows that the checks and balances are still functioning and that vaccine safety is still paramount. Some also argue that because of the situation surrounding the development of these SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, details about the studies should be made public to help promote public in the vaccine development, pharmaceutical companies, and governmental regulatory agencies. 

As the world waits for progress on the vaccines to continue, many countries have invested in pre-ordering millions of doses of each of the most promising vaccines. This particular Oxford/AstraZenca vaccine had almost 3 billion total pre-ordered doses by the end of August, the highest of any coronavirus vaccine candidate. However, we must still wait for the results of phase III clinical trials before any vaccines will be approved and distributed. 

 (Rebecca Robbins, Adam Feuersein, Helen Branswell, STAT)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

September 10, 2020 at 11:02 am

Science Policy Around the Web September 8th, 2020

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By Andrew Wright, BSc

Image by Heidelbergerin from Pixabay 

Ice sheet melt on track with ‘worst-case climate scenario’ 

While RCP 8.5, or the ‘worst-case scenario’ climate model may be unlikely in its entirety due to global reductions in coal use, at least one factor, glacial melting, is tightly adhering to the most severe model from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report according to a paper published in Nature Climate Change. Greenland and Antarctica, which are particularly sensitive to global warming, have lost a combined 6.4 trillion tons of ice since 1992 and now account for a third of all sea level rise. Should the rates of glacial ice melt continue to accelerate at their current pace and track with extreme climate models, sea levels are predicted to rise by 17.8 cm by 2100 from ice melt alone. To put that in perspective, since 1993 the ocean has risen by about 8cm and flooding in the United States has increased by over 200%. In addition, glacial lakes, or reservoirs of ice melt are rapidly forming that pose flood dangers to communities at lower elevations.

The Greenland ice sheet may be past the point of no return now that annual snowfall is no longer sufficient to replenish glacial mass lost through warming oceans and higher air temperatures. In addition, extreme melting events where billions of ice are lost in a single day are starting to occur. As the world is faced with at least some level of inevitable sea level rise that will cause trillions of dollars in damage in coastal and river communities, governments will have to invest not only in carbon reduction strategies, but also protective infrastructure. 

(The European Space Agency

Written by sciencepolicyforall

September 8, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Science Policy Around the Web September 1st, 2020

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By Silvia Preite, PhD

Covid-19 re-infection can occur, but the implications for individuals and society remain uncertain.

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, documented re-infection cases are occurring in apparently healthy and immunocompetent individuals. After the first infection, individuals were negative for the virus yet tested positive again a few months later. During the second infection, the viral genetic identity was different from the one sequenced the first time, suggesting two unrelated infections with genetically distinct SARS-CoV2 viruses.

In a case reported by Hong Kong researchers, a 33-year-old man was hospitalized with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms during the early infection, but was asymptomatic during the second infection. These events suggest the immune system’s ability to do its job: train during the first infection, build memory, and work better the second time to protect the disease from occuring. However, in another re-infection case reported in Nevada, a 25-year-old individual had a symptomatic primary infection that resolved during home isolation. In contrast, during the second infection this person required hospitalization, oxygen support, and developed pneumonia. While these reports verify that re-infection with SARS-CoV2 can occur, it is still too early to draw any conclusion about broad implications.

The quality of the immune response to SARS-CoV2 varies between individuals, likely due to a combination of genetic factorsinfection history with other coronavirusesage, and gender. More time is necessary to analyze and characterize the features of primary and secondary infections to understand their implications in the general population better.

Notably, in both cases, the publications did not evaluate whether the two re-infected individuals were infections. If re-infection can lead to new transmission of the virus, herd immunity generated through SARS-CoV2 infection is unlikely to occur and to protect vulnerable individuals from being infected and become sick. In the re-infection case in Hong Kong, the authors conclude that “Even those with previous COVID-19 infection should comply with epidemiological control measures such as universal masking and social distancing.”

(Andrew Joseph, STAT)

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September 1, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Science Policy Around the Web August 27th, 2020

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By Mohor Sengupta, PhD

Image by skeeze from Pixabay 

Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires?

Yet another bout of wildfire season is raging in large forested swathes of California. Firefighters are struggling to bring to control 560 wildfires burning throughout the most populous state in the United States. A beloved redwood forest is directly under attack. The current fires are among the largest wildfires in the history of California. Brought about by lightening strikes, these fires have prompted evacuation orders for 48,000 people residing in Santa Cruz county. The ongoing and relentless pandemic has made evacuees wary of shelters where thousands are expected to stay put. So why are we seeing increasing wildfires in California? Ten largest fires in state records dating back to 1932 have occurred after 2000. Experts point to four basic reasons:

  1. Climate change

California gets most of its rainfall in the fall and winter months. That is when new vegetation springs to life. Over the hot and dry months of the summer, existing vegetation becomes dry, creating highly inflammable material waiting for a random spark, a lightening strike, or some thoughtless human activity, to turn into a smoldering mass that can quickly get out of hand. Gradual climate change has increased general summer temperatures by one to two degrees Fahrenheit, worsening the problem.  

  • Human activities

The Carr fire in 2018 started when sparks flew after a flattened truck tire scraped against the pavement. It was the sixth largest fire on record in California. Over the years people have also moved toward forested areas, which are called urban-wildland interface. Human activities, or results of human habitation, like downed power lines near forests, are a great recipe for fires. 

  • The method of controlling fires

Counterintuitive as it may seem, the long-existing strategy of firefighting that douses all burning vegetation might have caused the accumulation of more burnable material over the years! Experts say that had there been controlled burning, there would be lesser plants to start fires in the zones currently being affected by wildfires. The United States Forest Service has started using controlled burns in recent years to address this issue. 

  • Seasonal winds

A study has suggested that California has two fire seasons. One that is happening now, usually ranges from June through September and targets forested highlands. It is the wildfire season we are familiar with. A second, more devastating fire season is from October through April. That is caused by dry, hot winds, called Santa Ana winds, that blow from the Great Basin area into Southern California. These fires spread a lot faster and wreak havoc in urban areas. Since the last 20 years, this second fire season has caused 80 percent of the total economic damage caused by wildfires in California! 

(By Kendra Pierre-Louis and John Schwartz, The New York Times)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 27, 2020 at 2:32 pm

Science Policy Around the Web August 17th, 2020

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By Maria Disotuar, PhD

Source: Pikist

Will TikTok Be Banned in the USA? It May Depend On Who Owns It

In 2017, the social media app was purchased by TikTok’s parent company, Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., for $1 billion. The acquisition and migration of users from to TikTok propelled the app to become one of the most downloaded and popular social media platforms in the world. Two years later, the U.S. government launched a national security investigation against ByteDance’s purchase of and raised concerns over TikTok’s political censorship and its usage/storage of users’ personal data. The seemingly innocent video-sharing app has now been underscruteny by U.S. officials for more than a year and last month White House officials and Congress expressed concerns that the app may be used by the Chinese Communist Party to spy on Americans. Due to the potential national security threat, the White House has now ordered ByteDance to sell it’s U.S. assets in 90 days or the app will be banned indefinitely from the U.S.

On Thursday, the US Senate unanimously approved a bill banning all federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices. This bill reinforces previous concerns which advised federal employees not to use TikTok on government-issued devices and recommended federal employees use caution when using the app on personal devices. The concern is not necessarily TikTok’s data collection practices as these are not unusual and mirror data collection practices of other social media platforms. The real concern is that within its user agreement and privacy policy TikTok states they “may share your information with a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate” of their corporate group. 

Amidst the growing backlash, TikTok is trying to distance itself from its parent company, and has claimed that all data on Americans is stored in the U.S. and the data has never been requested or given to ByteDance or any Chinese official. Despite these efforts, last week president Trump signed an executive order which could effectively stop the app from advertising for American companies and could be completely removed from the Google and Apple app stores. These latest measures have led to a series of protests by TikTok fans as many claim the ban would be personally devastating. 

Although several American companies, including Microsoft, are currently looking to alleviate the situation by potentially purchasing TikTok from ByteDance, officials claim this may not be enough to resolve the U.S. government’s national security concerns. For now, the merger may be the only solution to keeping the platform in the U.S.

(Bobby Allyn, NPR 

Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 18, 2020 at 9:16 am

Science Policy Around the Web August 14th, 2020

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By Kellsye Fabian, PhD

Image by Bao_5 from Pixabay

Russia’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is less than meets the press release

On Tuesday, August 11th, Russia announced it had approved the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine, which is dubbed “Sputnik V,” has only been tested in 76 subjects so far. Nevertheless, the Russian Ministry of Health issued a registration certificate that would allow the vaccine to be administered to a small population of vulnerable groups, which includes medical workers and the elderly, starting this month. The registration certificate stipulates that the vaccine cannot be widely used until January 2021. In an earlier announcement this month, Mikhail Murashko, the minister of health, has said that the country will begin mass vaccination campaign in October.  

Global health authorities are worried that without the proper large-scale clinical trials, the vaccine’s safety and effectivity are not definitive. In order to be approved for widespread use, vaccines typically go through three stages of clinical trials. Phase I and Phase II studies are performed to determine the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine on a relatively small number of subjects. Phase III trials enroll thousands of subjects and is critical in establishing the effectivity of the vaccine. Phase III studies can also identify more subtle treatment-related adverse effects that cannot be detected in earlier and smaller trials. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a government meeting that the vaccine “works effectively enough” and “has passed all the necessary test.” He even noted that one of his adult daughters had received the vaccine. According to him, his daughter is feeling well and has a high number of antibodies. 

The vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow and is being manufactured by Binnopharm in Zelenograd. The vaccine consists of two shots of different versions of adenovirus that are recombinant for the surface protein, or spike, of SARS-CoV-2. The clinical studies that were conducted compared the single administration of adenovirus 26 with the spike gene to a prime-boost scheme that also gives a second dose 21 days later of an adenovirus 5 with a spike gene. The results of these studies have not yet been published

Russia’s certification process is similar to the emergency use authorization of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in which the agency can approve use of medicines prior to completion of efficacy trials. According to Alexey Chumakov, a researcher at the M.P.Chumakov Institute of Poliomyelitis and Viral Encephalitides in Moscow, the Ministry of Health does not seek input from the scientists and that Russia has a shrinking community of virologists that could give advice on COVID-19 vaccine decisions. In contrast, the FDA has an independent advisory committee, consisting mostly of academics, that reviews vaccine applications. 

A website for Sputnik V claims that a Phase III trial was planned to begin on August 12th, which would involve more than 2,000 individuals from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Mexico. In contrast, each of the ongoing Phase III trials for the other coronavirus vaccines in development plan to enroll approximately 30,000 volunteers apiece. 

(Jon Cohen, ScienceInsider)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 14, 2020 at 10:02 am

Top-down scientific communication in combating misinformation

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By Andrew Wright B.Sc.

Image by 1778011 from Pixabay 

On May 26, 2020, a poll generated by YouGov found that 28% of Americans believe Bill Gates is attempting to implant microchips in people under the guise of funding a coronavirus vaccine. That same poll found that half of respondents did not think wearing a face mask would protect them from getting infected. On July 25, 2020, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest local TV syndicates in the country, considered airing a segment with the creators of the “Plandemic” documentary that claims the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, created the coronavirus pandemic as a nefarious scheme. It has since been delayed to “provide better context.”

Misinformation is by no means novel, but with the advent of instantaneous communication and social media, it has become a rapid and potent driving force of public narratives. Unfortunately, this effectively undermines one of the United States’ constitutional safeguards against social decline. In 1787, James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10 that “factions,” like-minded interest groups that formed from quickly spread public opinion, were a threat to the country’s unity. Part of his argument to craft the United States as a large republic was to limit the capacity of factions to easily communicate and unify, thereby diffusing their influence on the broader public discourse. Now, that strategy is moot as the internet provides a myriad of ways for factions to form, coalesce, and organize.

The public response to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease that will have killed over 160,000 Americans by the time of this publication, is the culmination of sentiments against science born out of factions like those that promote climate change denial and anti-vaccination. Bolstered by burgeoning online communities, the ideas that firmly take root in the minds of subsets of the public are not necessarily the ones that are most rigorous or true, but those that achieve primacy. This often puts scientists and experts in the untenable position of having to reverse the damage done before correct information can be relayed, which is an exhausting and unproductive affair. In order to establish a more effective system, it is useful to examine other countries that have experienced relative success in promulgating scientific information during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequently achieved desirable health outcomes.

New Zealand is one of the few nations that routinely have fewer than five new daily coronavirus cases. Although as an island nation New Zealand enjoyed advantages over other countries in terms of the rapidity of international spread, it is still useful to examine what allowed it to essentially halt coronavirus infections. According to articles from Massey University, government policy was data-driven as was public messaging. After closing its borders the previous week, New Zealand established a lockdown on March 25, 2020, whereby all public gatherings were banned, non-essential services were closed, and police checkpoints were established to restrict travel. Its public health apparatus also engaged in extensive testing and contact tracing. One would expect that with such strict measures, there could have been significant public pushback. Instead, the ruling government held a high approval rating throughout. This was achieved through daily press briefings that provided up-to-date statistics, guidelines, and opportunities for public health experts to have a dialogue with the public. The government also established a dedicated website and broadcast public service announcements in multiple languages. Importantly, the messaging across the government’s platforms was unified and consistent. As a result, compliance with hygiene practices and trust in authorities was at nearly 100% and support for false claims was very low. To use a previous example, only 9% of those surveyed in New Zealand thought Bill Gates was using the coronavirus to his own ends. 

Germany is considerably closer to the United States in population size than New Zealand. It contains about a quarter of the inhabitants of the United States, but its population density is seven times higher (which increases risk of viral spread). While new coronavirus cases in Germany are not zero, the number of cases being added per week are only somewhat higher than the number of cases the United States adds per hour. Germany’s success comes from a similar playbook as New Zealand’s, but with the added benefit of its leader, Angela Merkel, having significant scientific experience. This allowed her to join the chorus of experts in explaining complex concepts in an accessible manner. And while counterfactual groups did emerge, it was largely after the country had begun re-opening and messaging started to relax. Moreover, their presence did not significantly affect the government’s direction. Once again, a central and consistent message in combination with informed public policy yielded a positive result. 

In contrast, the United States has suffered from a disjointed response and muddied messaging. The United States government held daily coronavirus briefings, but they were far from the polished affairs seen elsewhere. However, the United States has a central office that previously played an effective role in communicating science policy. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was established by Congress in 1976 as the White House’s innovation hub. While OSTP has the responsibility to advise the president on domestic and international matters of science and technology, it also has broad discretion to implement related interagency policies and budgets. Under the previous administration, OSTP played an essential role in disaster mitigation, climate change, and decisions on nuclear treaties with foreign governments. It also had its own pressroom that served to update the public on scientific initiatives from the White House. In the early days of the current administration, the number of staff in OSTP dropped from 135 to 45, many of whom did not have backgrounds in science. The position of director was left unfilled (until the appointment of Kelvin Droegemeier in January 2019) and de facto control of the agency was given to Michael Kratsios, whose background was in Hellenic studies and venture capital. While the OSTP website no longer lists staff members, one can assume they have maintained similar qualifications overall. In reducing and transforming the composition of its staff, OSTP may have been unable to apply the full extent of its resources at a critical time.

While the previous iteration of the OSTP that was staffed with relevant experts did not eliminate misinformation during its tenure, it did provide a strong counterweight to the factions that arose from those falsehoods. With that important opposing force diminished, policies such as mask mandates to prevent coronavirus spread have been met with sometimes fatal resistance. In order to work toward combating this problem, it could be effective to strengthen OSTP as well as to establish benchmarks of expertise and quality. One such measure is the bipartisan Scientific Integrity Act that was recently amended to the HEROES Act, a coronavirus stimulus bill that passed in mid-May 2020. This bill prohibits scientific misconduct by employees of federal agencies that conduct scientific research and “manipulating communication of scientific or technical findings.” Implementation and oversight are handled through OSTP, which is required to publish a “scientific integrity policy” from each covered agency on its website. If this bill were to pass and were then augmented by legislation that established requisite expertise requirements for OSTP and bolstered its communication apparatus, the United States could be much better poised to intercept misinformation before it takes root. Given the complexity individual experts face in convincing the public to follow informed advice, an ally in a well-funded and far-reaching agency would be a welcome benefit. In times of national health crisis, such as that in which we find ourselves, that benefit could make a significant difference.

Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 8, 2020 at 9:44 am

Science Policy Around the Web August 6th, 2020

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By Ken Farabaugh, PhD

Image by Mylene2401 from Pixabay

The pandemic is hitting scientist parents hard, and some solutions may backfire

In addition to the toll on life, health, and the economy, the coronavirus pandemic is also taking a toll on the careers of the next generation of principal investigators. One of the main determinants of a scientist’s readiness for tenure, financial and research independence, is a harder mark to achieve when juggling students, teaching, research, collaborations, and kids at home.

New data suggests that scientists who have children under the age of 5 reported working 38% fewer hours than before the start of the pandemic, while those with children between 6-11 worked 32% fewer hours – that is double the amount of time lost by scientists without young children. An experiment conducted at home by married scientists demonstrate just how difficult it is to work from home – their 8-year old and 12-year old daughters interrupted work 15 times per hour requiring assistance. Other parents have resorted to waking up at 3:00 am to get any work done.

Many postdocs and faculty members have requested that campus day care centers be reopened (which would also be problematic, as children do not social distance), or requesting flexible deadlines and contract extensions to help parents in the workplace. However, the track record of such gender-neutral policies is not necessarily favorable. A 2018 study that tracked the extension of tenure clocks after the birth of a child showed that men actually published more, while women published less and their tenure rates went down. There does not appear to be an easy solution that will fit every institution, especially as they hemorrhage money during the pandemic, but the impact on scientific careers, especially of women, may be devastating.

(Katie Langin, Science Careers)

Antiabortion ethicists and scientists dominate Trump’s fetal tissue review board

Last year, the Trump administration put a halt to federal funding of research using fetal tissue until the studies were approved by a new ethics review and advisory board. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar introduced this board at the end of July, which consists of 15 members, 10 of whom oppose abortions and several of whom have publicly come out against using fetal tissue in research. Although several members of the committee are actual scientists that understand the importance of such research, by filling the panel with anti-abortionists, the administration has ensured that their voices will surely be outnumbered. 

Fetal tissue has been used in research on diseases from HIV to Alzheimer’s, cancer to vaccines. At least one researcher has been prevented from using this tissue to study the novel coronavirus. It is the gold standard in some fields, and some argue that it cannot be replaced by any tissue culture substitute. Others argue that such research itself is unethical if it is “even in a small part contributory to motivating elective abortions.”

The advisory panel will review a number of proposals, including a $20 million program to research alternatives to fetal tissue research, which cannot be performed without at least some fetal tissue as a comparison. All proposals being put forth before this board have already undergone two stages of scientific review, and the recommendations to HHS for funding or not will be based solely on ethical considerations. The board is required to be made up of at least one attorney, one ethicist, one practicing physician, one theologian, and biomedical or behavioral researchers.

(Meredith Wadman, Jocelyn Kaiser, Science)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 6, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Science Policy Around the Web July 28th, 2020

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By Tam Vo, PhD

Image by PixxlTeufel from Pixabay 

Phase 3 clinical trial of investigational vaccine for COVID-19 begins

A recent NIH press release on July 27th announced the beginning of a Phase 3 clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was developed in collaboration between a Massachusetts based biotechnology company, Moderna Inc, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is one of the lead vaccine candidates developed under Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership initiated by the US federal government to facilitate the development and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine. 

The goal of Phase 3 is to examine the efficacy of mRNA-1273 in a large population to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 after two subsequent doses. In addition, the trial will investigate whether the vaccine can prevent severe COVID-19 in humans or in laboratories set up in both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. The trial will launch at approximately 89 clinical research sites within the US, 24 of which are part of the NIH Coronavirus Prevention Network (CoVPN). Lead investigators will prioritize site location to be in the proximity of sites where the prevalence of COVID-19 cases is high based on public health data. 

NIAID scientists developed a stabilized spike immunogen (S-2P) for SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus uses the spike proteins on the outer surface to enter its host cell. Moderna uses a messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to encode the S-2P immunogen, which can elicit a broad immune response against SARS-CoV-2 in human cells. Phase 1 trial results, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed mRNA-1273 could stimulate the production of antibodies capable of effectively neutralizing high levels of virus activity while being well-tolerated. The promising results led to the initiation of a Phase 2 trial by Moderna in May 2020. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, has since nearly doubled its funding for the Moderna mRNA-based vaccine.

Both NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins and the NIAID Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci commented with a positive note on the news. Dr. Fauci said in his statement that “Results from early-stage clinical testing indicate the investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine is safe and immunogenic, supporting the initiation of Phase 3 clinical trial.” Dr. Collins noted: “The launch of this Phase 3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”

Volunteers for Phase 3 clinical trials will be administered two 100 microgram injections of mRNA-1273 or two doses of saline for placebo study. The clinical trial is double-blinded, meaning that neither the investigators nor the participants know who will be assigned in each group. CoVPN is currently recruiting adults who are interested in participating in the clinical study.

 (NIH, News Releases)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

July 28, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Science Policy Around the Web July 23rd, 2020

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By Dorothy Butler, PhD

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 

Scientists stumbled across the first known manganese-fueled bacteria

Scientists have long thought that metal-eating bacteria existed. A recent discovery by Hang Yu and Jared Leadbetterproved this hypothesis correct. In a serendipitous discovery, these two environmental microbiologists from Caltech found bacteria that can borrow electrons from manganese and use them to grow. Previously, researchers had shown that bacteria could borrow elections from elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, and iron, but no one had shown manganese as a source of energy. A jar with manganese carbonate was left to soak in the sink, and ten weeks later, the manganese carbonate had been replaced with a new substance.  This substance was manganese oxide, which is found all over the planet and can pollute drinking water. About 70 bacterial species were found in the jar filled with tap water. Two species were isolated that could generate manganese dioxide from manganese carbonate when cultured together. The specific role of each species, named Candidatus Manganitrophus nonudliformans and Ramlibactr lithotrophicus, has yet to be determined. Ultimately, this discovery could lead to new ways to manage manganese oxide pollution in drinking water.

 (Carolyn Beans, Science News)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

July 23, 2020 at 4:02 pm