DAILY DOSE: Nasal Covid vaccine crashes and burns in trials; First space tourist wants to do laps around the moon.

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CHILD BOOSTERS ARE HERE.

For parents inclined to have their young children vaccinated against Covid-19, the latest set of boosters have been cleared by the U.S. FDA and they can get their kids boosted. Per the Ars Technica,

The US on Wednesday expanded access to the "updated" bivalent COVID-19 boosters targeting the omicron subvariant BA.5, now allowing children ages 5 to 11 to get a fall booster shot. Previously only adults and kids no younger than 12 were eligible.

In quick succession, the Food and Drug Administration this morning announced the expanded authorization of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 boosters, with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, endorsing that authorization—officially making the vaccines available to little arms—just a few hours later.

"This is a critical step in our fight against COVID-19," Walensky wrote in a tweet announcing her recommendation. "An updated vaccine can help bolster protection for our children this winter."

Uptake on these bivalent boosters among adults has been relatively weak compared with prior vaccination rounds. https://bit.ly/3Mr1Si9


BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD.

While we’re on the subject of Covid-19 vaccines, a Western version of a nasal Covid-19 vaccine has crashed and burned in clinical trials. According to Ars Technica,

The nasal version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine failed an early-stage clinical trial, dashing hopes for better infection prevention and forcing researchers to re-think the design.

Many experts have hyped the potential of nasal COVID-19 vaccines. They argue that snorting the shots could encrust the nasal mucous membranes with snotty antibodies—namely IgA—and other immune defenses that could blow away SARS-CoV-2 virus particles before they have the chance to cause an infection. Currently, the shots given intramuscularly in arms provide robust systemic immune responses that prevent severe disease and death but spur relatively weak antibody levels on mucous membranes and, relatedly, don't always prevent infection.

A Chinese nasal Covid-19 vaccine has been on the market for some time. https://bit.ly/3Tns3st


SILKY SMOOTH.

In a paper published in Science, researchers have peered into the amino acids that comprise spider silk for insight into its unique characteristics. According to the study’s authors,

Spider silks are among the toughest known materials and thus provide models for renewable, biodegradable, and sustainable biopolymers. However, the entirety of their diversity still remains elusive, and silks that exceed the performance limits of industrial fibers are constantly being found. We obtained transcriptome assemblies from 1098 species of spiders to comprehensively catalog silk gene sequences and measured the mechanical, thermal, structural, and hydration properties of the dragline silks of 446 species. The combination of these silk protein genotype-phenotype data revealed essential contributions of multicomponent structures with major ampullate spidroin 1 to 3 paralogs in high-performance dragline silks and numerous amino acid motifs contributing to each of the measured properties. We hope that our global sampling, comprehensive testing, integrated analysis, and open data will provide a solid starting point for future biomaterial designs.

Okay biomaterial engineers. Ball’s in your court now. https://bit.ly/3TgELZR


SPACE TOURIST WANDERLUST.

The world’s first space tourist is at it again. He wants to go back to space, this time, he wants to go further than the International Space Station. He wants to do laps around the moon. According to the Associated Press,

The world’s first space tourist wants to go back — only this time, he’s signed up for a spin around the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship.

For Dennis Tito, 82, it’s a chance to relive the joy of his trip to the International Space Station, now that he’s retired with time on his hands. He isn’t interested in hopping on a 10-minute flight to the edge of space or repeating what he did 21 years ago. “Been there, done that.”

His weeklong moonshot — its date to be determined and years in the future — will bring him within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar far side. He’ll have company: his wife, Akiko, and 10 others willing to shell out big bucks for the ride.

Obviously, he’s got the itch. https://bit.ly/3er95lF

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

IMAGE CREDIT: NASA.


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