The Daily Dose: Massive fraud at another biotech start-up.

According to evidence from over a year’s worth of COVID-19 infections, severe COVID-19 symptoms in children is a rare event. Unfortunately, it is still a possibility. For a while, researchers believed it to be related to Kawasaki Disease. Now, they are getting a better grasp of just what is going on. Per Science, “Both adults and children with acute COVID-19 had high levels of inflammation and immune activation, in which immune cells get revved up to target potential harms—but in MIS-C patients, the degree of activation sometimes exceeded that of the sickest adult patients, the researchers reported this month in Science Immunology. One subgroup of immune cells stood out: the so-called ‘vascular patrolling’ T cells. Their high activation, suggesting they were targeting blood vessels, could explain the cardiac inflammation and aneurysms in some patients.” Thankfully, as scientists’ knowledge grew, they were able to tweak treatments to make them more effective.

At one point, herd immunity to COVID-19 seemed to be a distinct and realistic possibility. Times have changed and experts are now giving up on that dream. According to Nature, “That threshold is generally achievable only with high vaccination rates, and many scientists had thought that once people started being immunized en masse, herd immunity would permit society to return to normal. Most estimates had placed the threshold at 60–70% of the population gaining immunity, either through vaccinations or past exposure to the virus. But as the pandemic enters its second year, the thinking has begun to shift. In February, independent data scientist Youyang Gu changed the name of his popular COVID-19 forecasting model from ‘Path to Herd Immunity’ to ‘Path to Normality’. He said that reaching a herd-immunity threshold was looking unlikely because of factors such as vaccine hesitancy, the emergence of new variants and the delayed arrival of vaccinations for children.” Not exactly the news people want to hear but sugar-coating bad news doesn’t help.

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Yet another example of biotech founders behaving badly, two people have been charged with massive fraud. Per FierceBiotech, “The founders of microbiome-testing startup uBiome have been charged with defrauding investors out of $60 million by convincing them it was a successful business before being forced to shutter operations, declare bankruptcy and flush all its assets in late 2019, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The federal watchdog agency charged Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte with “painting a false picture of uBiome as a rapidly growing company,” including that it had established health insurance reimbursements for its clinical tests, designed to diagnose diseases by screening the microorganisms found in fecal samples.” The two can hangout with Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes.

Everyone understands that childhood trauma affects people as they grow into adults. Mostly, it’s been in the mental health realm. A recent study suggests that it may also alter a child’s genetics. Per the Scientist, “Researchers found that early-life stress in mice induces epigenetic changes in a particular type of neuron, which in turn make the animals more prone to stress later in life. Using a drug that inhibits an enzyme that adds epigenetic marks to histones, they also show that the latent effects of early-life stress can be reversed.” It will be interesting to see whether the genetic effects of trauma can be modified in the future.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Let’s be careful out there.

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