The Daily Dose: Biden makes moves; AI to the rescue for dieters?

President Joe Biden wasted little time reversing many of former President Donald Trump’s policies implemented by executive order. A number of Biden’s executive orders addressed shortcomings in America’s response to COVID-19. STAT listed 10 Biden Administration officials who will play important roles in responding to the pandemic.

In case anybody failed to notice, a lot of the diseases currently tormenting humans have spilled over from bats. A recent study in Nature took a closer look at the phenomenon and what can be learned from bats’ response to viruses. “Recent studies suggest that 64 million years of adaptive evolution have shaped the host defence system of bats to balance defence and tolerance, which has resulted in a unique ability to act as an ideal reservoir host for viruses. Lessons from the effective host defence of bats would help us to better understand viral evolution and to better predict, prevent and control future viral spillovers. Studying the mechanisms of immune tolerance in bats could lead to new approaches to improving human health. We strongly believe that it is time to focus on bats in research for the benefit of both bats and humankind.” Why it’s taken this long to focus more on bats and their role in zoonotic outbreaks is beyond me.

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Drug development is not an industry for the faint of heart. While a lot has been made of the exorbitant prices it charges for many drugs. However, on the other side, it’s hard to ignore the heavy financial risk involved in R&D and post-approval administrative fees. Per Fierce Pharma, “About half the drugs launched in the last 15 years underperformed analysts’ sales estimates by more than 20%, according to a recent report from L.E.K. Consulting. In fact, only one-fifth of new meds reached $1 billion in U.S. sales, and more than half failed to hit even $250 million.” While failures were spread through different fields, the biggest losers were drugs that addressed cardiovascular, immunologic, and infectious diseases.

The Gradient compiled a visual history of interpretation for image recognition. If you’re trying to get a better hold of the concepts and technology involved in the facial recognition industry, it’s good primer. Elsewhere, Nature put together a handy list of ten computer codes that transformed science. They added brief explanations that make understanding their impact easier.

Finally, artificial intelligence has been used to address bad eating habits and to suggest better options. Per Tech Xplore, “Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IBM Research in New York have recently created pFoodReQ, a system that can recommend recipes tailored around the preferences and dietary needs of individual users… A broader objective of the research by Zaki and his colleagues was to combine machine learning methods with semantics, the branch of linguistics related to meaning. To do this, the researchers combined deep-learning techniques for answering questions with FoodKG, a large-scale food knowledge graph they developed.” To be fair, it isn’t that people are unaware of healthier food options. They just can’t be bothered. No amount of AI can change that.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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