DAILY DOSE: Elon Musk’s Neuralink valued at $5 billion; LGBTQ+ community faces big decisions in Florida.

Does it matter how far off and tenuous the realization of a new technology is to investors with lots of money to burn? Apparently not, especially if the name “Musk” is associated with it. Per Reuters,

Elon Musk's brain implant startup Neuralink, which was valued at close to $2 billion in a private fundraising round two years ago, is now worth around $5 billion based on privately executed stock trades described to Reuters by five sources with knowledge of the matter.

Some purchases by bullish investors boosted the valuation in recent months, ahead of Neuralink's May 25 announcement that U.S. regulators had approved a human trial on its brain chip, the sources said.

Experts have said it could take several years for Neuralink to secure commercial use clearance. Kip Ludwig, former program director for neural engineering at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), said he "optimistically" expected Neuralink to take at least 10 more years to commercialize its brain implant. The company also faces other challenges that include federal probes into its handling of animal research.

This is as close to really rolling dice as investing can be. https://bit.ly/3CdGFUM

LGBTQ+ are having the opposite of a moment these days. The Right has essentially declared open season on them, paying most attention to trans members. The situation in Florida is close to forcing people to relocate to other states. That’s how far things have deteriorated. Per the Associated Press,

Debate surrounding Florida’s new restrictions on gender-affirming care focused largely on transgender children. But a new law that Republican presidential candidate and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last month also made it difficult – even impossible – for many transgender adults to get treatment.

Eli and Lucas, trans men who are a couple, followed the discussions in the Legislature, where Democrats warned that trans children would be more prone to suicide under a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and Republicans responded with misplaced tales of mutilated kids. Eli said he and his partner felt “blindsided” when they discovered the bill contained language that would also disrupt their lives.

“There was no communication. … Nobody was really talking about it in our circles,” said Eli, 29.

Like many transgender adults in Florida, he and Lucas are now facing tough choices, including whether to uproot their lives so that they can continue to access gender-confirming care. Clinics are also trying to figure out how to operate under regulations that have made Florida a test case for restrictions on adults.

We believe access to healthcare is a human right. We’ll leave it at that. https://bit.ly/3oJFut1

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Healthcare advances only matter if the people who need them the most have access to them. A recent presentation at a conference highlights how effective comprehensive genomic profiling is and how few people actually take advantage of it. According to Fierce Biotech,

“A pair of studies Illumina researchers presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago this weekend generated a feeling of whiplash: While one showed that using comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) to guide treatment decisions can significantly improve outcomes for cancer patients, the other confirmed that between 50% and 80% of eligible insured patients don’t actually receive the recommended tests.

Taken together, the studies highlight the urgent need “to democratize genomic profiling in cancer,” a core tenet at Illumina, according to Kevin Keegan, a vice president at the company and general manager of its oncology business.

“Our data show that an enormous and even alarming number of patients are not getting genomic profiling when they get diagnosed,” he said in an interview with Fierce Medtech on Friday.

“There are massive gaps; there are still unmet needs. Even here in the U.S., where we have probably more genomic medicine being used than anywhere else, there are still just massive, underserved populations in this country,” Keegan continued. "That’s one of the most important things that we have to wrestle to the ground."

The better doctors are able to accurately “target” cancer cells, the more effective the treatment and better the results. https://bit.ly/3C8JwhH

In case you haven’t been paying attention, coral reefs are magical places, often home to stunning biodiversity. A recent study revealed that the biodiversity is not limited to fish and crustaceans. The microbial biodiversity is off the charts. Per Nature,

The largest-ever survey of Pacific Ocean corals has found that there’s likely to be more genetic diversity in the world’s coral reefs than researchers previously thought.

This assessment is based on a collection of studies reporting the results of the Tara Pacific expedition, a two-year research voyage of the vessel, Tara, which surveyed the genetic, chemical and microbial diversity of coral reefs. Researchers estimate that more than half of global coral coverage has disappeared over the past 70 years, along with 60% of the associated species diversity.

Marine scientists, microbiologists and crew members together clocked 100,000 kilometres after setting sail from the port of Lorient in France on 28 May 2016. They collected 58,000 samples of water, aerosols, coral, fish and plankton from 249 locations, including in Indonesia, Japan and Papua New Guinea.

In a study published in Nature Communications, Pierre Galand, a marine microbiologist at Sorbonne University in Paris and his colleagues sequenced a gene commonly used to identify and classify microorganisms, from some 5,000 samples. It is called the 16S ribosomal DNA marker gene. The team found 542,399 DNA sequences known as amplicon sequence variants (ASVs), which are a measure of the genetic variation of bacteria.

We would be well served to take good care of the coral reefs still in existence. https://bit.ly/3IVKj9o

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

IMAGE CREDIT: DonkeyHotey.

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