The Daily Dose: The CRISPR Revolution just got revolutionized; mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may offer long-term protection.

There is some really exciting news coming out of the pharmaceutical industry. Intellia Therapeutics has announced that early results indicate that a CRISPR treatment has been shown to be effective against a debilitating disease. According to Science, “In a medical first, researchers have injected a CRISPR drug into the blood of people born with a disease that causes fatal nerve and heart disease and shown that in three of them it nearly shut off production of toxic protein by their livers. Although it’s too soon to know whether the CRISPR treatment will ease the symptoms of the disease, known as transthyretin amyloidosis, the preliminary data reported today are generating excitement about what could be a one-time, lifelong treatment. ‘These are stunning results,’ says gene editing researcher and cardiologist Kiran Musunuru of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the trial. ‘It exceeds all my expectations.’” While it’s still Phase I trials, aka Early Days, the proof of concept is revolutionary.

According to a report in the New York Times, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines may offer long lasting protection against current strains of SARS-CoV-2. According to the article, “Dr. Ellebedy and his colleagues reported last month that in people who had survived Covid-19, immune cells that recognize the virus remained in the bone marrow for at least eight months after infection. A study by another team indicated that so-called memory B cells continue to mature and strengthen for at least a year after infection. Based on those findings, researchers suggested that immunity might last years, possibly a lifetime, in people who were infected and later vaccinated. But it was unclear whether vaccination alone might have a similarly long-lasting effect.” This means that for a portio of the population, near-term booster shots may not be needed.

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Australia is moving to smother a the worst outbreak they’ve experienced for some time. Per the BBC, “Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met national leaders for emergency talks on how to tackle a spike in Covid-19 infections. An outbreak in Sydney linked to the highly contagious Delta variant has grown to 128 cases. Cases have also been recorded in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.” The most concerning thing about this current outbreak and the thing that has officials moving quickly is that there are concurrent outbreaks popping up across the country, rather than isolated ones.

There is concern in China that the demanding process of being awarded tenure is causing too much strains in academia. According to Nature, “The killing of a maths faculty member on a Shanghai campus has sent shock waves through China’s research community. The motive behind the fatal stabbing remains unknown — but the suspect is a researcher at Fudan University, and the tragedy has stirred up debate over what many researchers argue are flaws in China’s tenure-track system.” The Chinese tenure system is closely modelled after the American one proving that you can change the country but the frustration is still the same.

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

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