DAILY DOSE: North Korea struggles with its Covid-19 outbreak; The cure for fat?


Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19, is threatening to shake up another government, prompting a flurry of activity aimed at stemming both the virus and any civil unrest that may arise. Per the Associated Press, “During more than a decade as North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un has made ‘self-reliance’ his governing lynchpin, shunning international help and striving instead for domestic strategies to fix his battered economy. But as an illness suspected to be COVID-19 sickens hundreds of thousands of his people, Kim stands at a critical crossroad: Either swallow his pride and receive foreign help to fight the disease, or go it alone, enduring potential huge fatalities that may undermine his leadership.” There are reports in Channel News Asia that shipments are beginning to take place from neighboring China. https://bit.ly/3wkg06i


Another promising cancer therapy appears to be on the rocks. T-cell immunoreceptor with immunoglobulin and ITIM domain (TIGIT) drugs initially looked like a game changer, but once again, navigating the minefield of clinical trials is proving difficult. Per Fierce Biotech, “Once hailed as the future of immuno-oncology, it looks like TIGITs could now be in trouble. Roche admitted last week to a second phase 3 trial failure for tiragolumab, which was unable to demonstrate the progression-free survival achieved by Tecentriq alone in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. In light of the news, iTeos is now reevaluating how to proceed with its own TIGIT drug, a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline called EOS-448. While the range of ongoing trials for the therapy suggests the companies are a long way from abandoning TIGITs, it hints at the nervousness caused by Roche’s findings.” A number of big companies are highly invested in the TIGIT space. Major players like Merck & Co., Gilead Sciences, Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb have all either invested internally or put out cash to license a potential therapy. https://bit.ly/37RIjzA


Move over Covid-19 lab leak conspiracy theories, there’s a new kid in town. This one’s focused on an outbreak of bird flu. Per the Associated Press, “While it poses little risk to humans, the global outbreak has led farmers to cull millions of birds and threatens to add to already rising food prices. It’s also spawning fantastical claims similar to the ones that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring how conspiracy theories often emerge at times of uncertainty, and how the internet and a deepening distrust of science and institutions fuel their spread. The claims can be found on obscure online message boards and major platforms like Twitter. Some versions claim the flu is fake, a hoax being used to justify reducing the supply of birds in an effort to drive up food prices, either to wreck the global economy or force people into vegetarianism.” Not the first, not the last. Expect more down the line. https://bit.ly/3lhvAJB


Night time has always presented problems for solar energy for obvious reasons. Now, researchers may have taken a significant step toward solving the night-time solar puzzle. Per ABC, “It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but Australian researchers have made a major breakthrough in ‘night-time solar’ technology. In what they claim is a world first, a team of researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has demonstrated that solar power can be generated at night. ‘In a sense, we’ve only been dealing with half of the opportunity, when we use photovoltaic solar cells to collect sunlight [during the day],’ project leader Associate Professor Ned Ekins-Daukes tells ABC RN’s Drive.” https://ab.co/3lpkDpj


That magical pill that makes you skinny has been the subject of starry-eyed dreaming and speculation up there with El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth. Researchers in Singapore have discovered a way of repurposing pineapple leaves to suck up the fat in your body. Per Channel News Asia, “Pineapple leaf fibres could hold the key to cheaper weight-loss supplements with the added benefit of being greener and more sustainable for the environment. The National University of Singapore (NUS) on Tuesday (May 17) said that its researchers have developed a method to use these cheap and abundant fibres to absorb fat. These upcycled, fat-absorbing pineapple leaf fibres could take the form of capsules or crackers. Utilising this part of the fruit, which is usually discarded during the harvesting process, also helps to reduce agricultural waste, said research team leader Associate Professor Duong Hai-Minh.” Personally, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Just sayin’. https://bit.ly/3Ljlr9T

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

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