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DAILY DOSE: Meat industry apologist scientist on the take; Chinese space station nears completion.

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SCIENTIST ON THE TAKE.

The more you read about so-called experts on multinational companies’ payrolls, the more you wonder whether anyone has integrity these days. This time, it’s a UC Davis scientist named Frank Mitloehner. Per the New York Times,

In 2019, three dozen leading researchers sounded a stark warning in a prominent scientific journal: To fight climate change and improve human health, the world needed to dramatically cut back on eating red meat.

The findings were quickly attacked by Frank Mitloehner, the head of an agricultural research center at the University of California, Davis, and a prominent critic of the journal’s research.

The report’s authors were spreading a “radical anti-meat agenda,” Dr. Mitloehner wrote on Twitter, where he led a backlash under the hashtag, #yes2meat. “Their so-called planetary diet is a quasi-vegan diet,” he said, calling the findings “anti-livestock.”

According to internal University of California documents reviewed by The New York Times, Dr. Mitloehner’s academic group, the Clear Center at UC Davis, receives almost all its funding from industry donations and coordinates with a major livestock lobby group on messaging campaigns.

Integrity still matters. People just don’t care much for it these days. https://bit.ly/3gMTQUY


EARTHQUAKE WARNING DEVICE IN YOUR POCKET.

Turns out, that mobile phone you’re carrying on your person is a pretty nifty scientific device. It proved its worth as a seismograph during a recent quake in San Francisco. Per Ars Technica,

Android phones around San Francisco’s Bay Area buzzed with an alert on Tuesday morning: A 4.8 magnitude earthquake was about to hit. “You may have felt shaking,” some of the messages read. More than a million Android users saw the alert. And for some, it arrived seconds before the ground even started moving.

It’s not the first time Android devices have received these alerts, says Marc Stogaitis, the project lead for the Android Earthquake Alerts System. But because the Bay Area is so densely populated, the alert hit enough phones that the larger public took notice. Earthquakes have historically come without warning, catching people off guard and leaving them with no advance notice to drop and take cover. Alerts like this aim to take some of the unpredictability out of earthquakes—even if by just a few seconds.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is build an earthquake early warning industry,” says Robert de Groot, who is part of the ShakeAlert operations team, a project under the United States Geological Survey that detects the first signs of earthquakes. “We’re doing things that we haven’t really ever thought of.”

If only my phone could actually make calls without dropping it a few minutes later… https://bit.ly/3gMTQUY


FAILURES MOUNT.

There’ve been a bunch of clinical trial disasters for pharmaceutical companies lately. Here’s a taste of them and proof that drug development is not for the faint of heart. Per Fierce Biotech,

A month after Eisai reported positive, topline phase 3 data of its Alzheimer’s treatment lecanemab, STAT News is out with a new bombshell report that gut-checks the drug’s hype.

The health and science news outlet reported Friday that one of the trial investigators flagged the death of a participating patient following bleeding in the brain and concluded it may have been down to the drug.

https://bit.ly/3SSqXUS

And then there’s this…

Vultures are circling Quantum Genomics. A high-stakes phase 3 hypertension readout has gone against the French biotech, prompting it to stop work on firibastat in cardiology and reallocate its remaining 11 million euros ($11 million) to other projects. 

Quantum moved the brain aminopeptidase A inhibitor firibastat into the 515-subject phase 3 clinical trial on the strength of a single-arm midphase study. The earlier study linked the candidate, which was then called QGC001, to a reduction in systolic blood pressure, suggesting it may treat hypertension by hitting an enzyme in the brain. However, the lack of a control arm left room to doubt the drug’s impact.

The phase 3 study cemented those doubts. Firibastat was statistically no better than placebo at reducing blood pressure, causing the trial to miss its primary endpoint and prompting Quantum to stop a second phase 3 clinical trial of the molecule. Development of firibastat in cardiology indications is over.

https://bit.ly/3DoalyD

And this…

The dream of taming IL-2 keeps slipping further away. After seeing Bristol Myers Squibb and Nektar Therapeutics give up on their candidate, Sanofi has reported “lower than projected” efficacy data on its prospect and rethought its plans for the molecule.

Sanofi entered the IL-2 space through its $2.5 billion takeover of Synthorx. The deal gave Sanofi control of SAR444245, then known as THOR-707. By installing a novel amino acid at one position in recombinant IL-2, Synthorx sought to retain the efficacy that has been evident since the IL-2 Proleukin won approval in the 1990s while addressing the onerous dosing and adverse events that have held back that product.

Over the past year or so, Sanofi has initiated a clutch of midphase clinical trials to assess SAR444245 in various combinations and indications. The early signs from the trials were bad enough to prompt the Big Pharma to change course.

Again, definitely not for the faint of heart. https://bit.ly/3h1m5PK


CLIMATE POSTURING.

The First Lady of Climate Change Activism is calling out attendees for the upcoming COP27 conference. Per Reuters,

Climate activist Greta Thunberg on Sunday called out next month's United Nations climate summit in Egypt for being "held in a tourist paradise in a country that violates many basic human rights."

Speaking at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre where she was promoting her new book, "The Climate Book", 19-year-old Thunberg dismissed the looming climate summit, known as COP27, as an opportunity for "people in power... to [use] greenwashing, lying and cheating."

While Thunberg did attend protests in Glasgow last year for COP26, she said she won't attend COP27, scheduled to be held from Nov. 6 to Nov. 18 in Sharm El Sheikh.

"The space for civil society is going to be extremely limited," she said. "It's important to leave space for those who need to be there. It will be difficult for activists to make their voices heard.

Public demonstration is effectively banned in Egypt and limits on accreditation and attendance badges for activists have been a point of contention at previous U.N. climate summits.”

She’s not wrong on this one. Tons of posturing going on already. https://reut.rs/3DnMRto


CONSTRUCTION NEARS COMPLETION.

The People’s Republic of China is making moves in lower Earth orbit. Per the Associated Press,

“China on Monday launched the third and final module to complete its permanent space station and realize a more than decade-long effort to maintain a constant crewed presence in orbit, as its competition with the U.S. grows increasingly fierce.

Mengtian was blasted into space on Monday afternoon from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan.

A large crowd of amateur photographers, space enthusiasts and others watched the lift-off from an adjoining beach.”

Is this the start of a new age where national space stations dominate international efforts? If it is, that can’t be a good thing. https://bit.ly/3DrCdlv

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


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