The U.S. is setting up a $1.7 billion national network to identify and track worrisome coronavirus mutations whose spread could trigger another pandemic wave, the Biden administration announced Friday. “White House officials unveiled a strategy that features three components: a major funding boost for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments to ramp up coronavirus gene-mapping; the creation of six “centers of excellence” partnerships with universities to conduct research and develop technologies for gene-based surveillance of pathogens; and building a data system to better share and analyze information on emerging disease threats, so knowledge can be turned into action.” If only they could convince the country to follow distancing and mask advice. https://bit.ly/3ghh6Io
How did it all begin? That’s been the burning dollar question. Cosmologists have the Big Bang but the Life Sciences is still in search of their own version. That isn’t to say that they aren’t inching closer, because they are. It’s just a little cumbersome because there are so many disparate fields involved. According to a review article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Multiple labs are tackling these interdisciplinary challenges with myriad approaches. At least one team believes they might be on track to learn how life got a start on our planet. ‘For years, people working on the origin of life had many ideas but nothing that fell into place as a single working pathway,’ says astronomer Dimitar Sasselov of Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. ‘In the last two or three years, we have the outline of that pathway. If it works, we will soon have the equivalent of a living thing in the lab at the chemical level.’” https://bit.ly/3sqthF6
With the international World Health Organization sponsored search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 at an impasse, scientists are turning to different routes to gain a better understanding of how and where the virus may have emerged. According to a paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases, “The ongoing global pandemic caused by coronavirus disease has once again demonstrated the role of the family Coronaviridae in causing human disease outbreaks. Because severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 was first detected in December 2019, information on its tropism, host range, and clinical manifestations in animals is limited. Given the limited information, data from other coronaviruses might be useful for informing scientific inquiry, risk assessment, and decision-making.” Of course, this process could potentially be simplified if scientists had access to raw data from the earliest days of the pandemic. https://bit.ly/3wVqRSF
Are other animals capable of dreaming while they recharge and sleep? If Octopuses are any indicators, it appears as if we aren’t the only ones. Recent research indicates that the eight-legged creature dreams while sleeping. “When they’re awake, octopuses change color during courtship, when they’re fighting over territory, and when they’re hiding from predators. Those changes are always in response to what’s going on around them. But, says Medeiros, ‘What we observed with sleep is that this changing color is not related to what is happening in the same moment in the environment.’ Instead, the octopuses were changing into fantastical patterns that had nothing to do with real world stimuli, like the proximity of other creatures or a need to camouflage themselves. Because motor neurons in the brain control those skin pattern changes, Medeiros says it’s possible that these patterns were emerging because the octopuses were dreaming.” https://bit.ly/3dphBhW
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.