Successful test of cancer-killing drug – Yahoo News Australia

Researchers have successfully tested a “Trojan Horse” drug which can kill cancer and bacterial cells without damaging nearby healthy tissue.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh combined the tiny cancer-killing molecule SeNBD with a chemical food compound to trick malignant cells into ingesting it.

The peer-reviewed experimental study was carried out on zebrafish and human cells, but researchers say more studies are needed to confirm if it is a safe and swift method of treating early stage cancer and drug-resistant bacteria.

Cancerous cells are “greedy” and need to consume high amounts of food for energy and they typically ingest more than healthy cells, said the University of Edinburgh.

By coupling SeNBD with a chemical food compound it becomes the “ideal prey for harmful cells” which ingest it “without being alerted to its toxic nature”.

The drug was invented by University of Edinburgh researchers who compared it to a Trojan Horse, and its effects to a “metabolic warhead”.

SeNBD is also a light-activated photosensitiser, meaning it kills cells only after it is turned on by visible light.

This means a surgeon can precisely decide when they want to activate the drug, reducing the chances of it destroying healthy tissues and avoiding side-effects like hair loss caused by other anti-cancer agents, said the university.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lead researcher Professor Marc Vendrell, chair of translational chemistry and Biomedical Imaging at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This research represents an important advance in the design of new therapies that can be simply activated by light irradiation, which is generally very safe.

“SeNBD is one of the smallest photosensitisers ever made and its use as a ‘Trojan horse’ opens many new opportunities in interventional medicine for killing harmful cells without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.”

Dr Sam Benson, a post-doctoral researcher at the university, said the mechanism of the drug’s delivery means it is delivered through the “front door of the cell” rather than having to “find a way to batter through the cell’s defences”.

The legend of the Trojan Horse in Greek mythology recounts the tale of Greek soldiers constructing a giant hollowed-out wooden horse in which they hid to gain access to the city of Troy, having pretended to desert the war.

The Trojans took the massive structure as a gift and ushered it inside the city walls, only for Greek warriors to emerge from inside and sack the city.


COVID-19 cases surge 73% in Washington state – Kitsap Sun


Alzheimer’s drug sparks emotional battle as FDA nears deadline on whether to approve – The Washington Post

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B1617 Strain Spreading Globalwide At ‘Frightening Speed’ – Gulte

As per the new evaluation by experts, the B1617 Covid-19 variant is spreading global-wide at a ‘frightening speed’ and could make the pandemic much worse, especially in countries with low vaccination rates. It is also reported that the B1617 strain is rapidly increasing with steeper slopes than many other variants and this will not be the last time that the virus mutates.

“The terrifying thing is the unimaginable pace at which this variant is able to spread and circulate widely within the community, often surpassing the capability of contact-tracing units to track and isolate exposed contacts to break the transmission chains,” a Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health said. According to WHO, B1617, which was first detected in India in October 2020, is now present in more than 50 countries.

Ying further added that the strain has the enormous potency to show the world a much scary and unprecedented pandemic. In simple words, it may further unleash terrifying pandemic storm than the world has previously seen. This is because the B1617 strain has mutated to spread at ease from person to person and may dampen the protection conferred by vaccines as well as natural infection, experts say. Citing the further danger, the global health body declared the strain as a “variant of global concern” this month.

The first strain detected in Wuhan last year is said to be nothing when compared to the new strain (1.5 times to two times more transmissible). There are three versions of B1617 — B16171, B16172 and B16173. The second version is the most relevant as it has appeared to overtake B16171 in local cases as well as those reported globally. The third version, B16173, is rare, the report said. the only hope as of now is vaccination and several studies suggest that Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against B1617.

But the problem lies with the shortages of vaccines and countries lagging far behind in vaccinating all its citizens. “The countries, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, are more vulnerable due to the low vaccination rates, leaving them more susceptible to severe disease,” chair of the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, Prof Fisher said.

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Some COVID-19 restrictions lifting June 1 –

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Pfizer (PFE) COVID-19 Vaccine Gets Nod for Adolescents in EU – Yahoo Finance

Pfizer PFE/BioNTech BNTX announced that the conditional marketing authorization (CMA) for its two-shot vaccine for COVID-19, Comirnaty in the European Union (EU) has been expanded to allow vaccinating adolescents, 12 to 15 years of age. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Europe for this age group.

The approval follows a positive opinion earlier granted by the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) for extension of the CMA in the European Union. The CMA was originally issued on Dec 21, 2020 for vaccinating individuals 16 years of age and older.

Please note that in the United States, the vaccine was approved for this age group earlier this month. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also endorsed the safety and efficacy of Comirnaty/BNT162b2 for use in adolescents aged 12-15 years old. Vaccinations are in full swing in the country.

The approvals for the adolescent age group was based on data from a phase III study, which enrolled 2,260 adolescents. The study data showed that BNT162b2 was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in adolescents aged 12-15 years old. Moreover, in the pivotal phase III study, the candidate demonstrated robust antibody levels, exceeding those in participants aged 16-25 years old in another study. The vaccine was also well tolerated.

BNT162b2/Comirnaty was developed in record time and is now approved for emergency/temporary use in 91 countries worldwide. As of May 3, 2021, Pfizer/BioNTech shipped approximately 430 million doses of the vaccine to 91 countries.

Meanwhile studies are ongoing to expand the authorization of BNT162b2 to additional population groups, such as children from 6 months to 11 years of age and pregnant women. The companies are also evaluating a potential booster dose and an updated version of the vaccine.

Pfizer’s stock has risen 5.2% this year so far compared with an increase of 5.7% for the industry

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BioNTech’s shares have surged 290% this year so far against the industry’s decrease of 8%.

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Other marketed COVID-19 vaccines are Moderna’s MRNA mRNA-1273, J&J’s JNJ single-shot COVID-19 vaccine and AstraZeneca’s (AZN) COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna is currently evaluating its vaccine in a phase II/III study for adolescents. Last week, the study met its primary endpoint by demonstrating non-inferior immunogenicity compared to COVE study that evaluated the vaccine in adults.

Pfizer has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) while BioNTech sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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Iowa COVID-19 hospitalizations dip below 100 – KCCI Des Moines

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The Pandemic in the U.S. Has Vastly Improved. For These Families, the Worst Has Just Begun. – The New York Times

For families of those who are dying now, the entire issue of vaccination has created a new layer of discomfort — and a set of difficult questions no one was asking in the early months of the crisis, before vaccines.

Hollie Rivers has been devastated in the weeks since her husband, Antwone, died in Michigan. Mr. Rivers had helped raise their blended family of five children, Ms. Rivers said, and had worked his way up to manager level at his job at a vehicle logistics company. She said he became her life partner — the “Charlie,” as she called him, to her “Angel.” At his funeral this month, she helped carry the coffin.

“I wanted to hold him until the very end, until I couldn’t hold him any longer,” Ms. Rivers, 28, said.

But after Ms. Rivers gave an interview to a Detroit-area television station and disclosed that her husband had not been vaccinated, she said she faced critical comments online. She and her husband had been initially hesitant, she said, but were considering getting the vaccine. Then Mr. Rivers, 40, got sick in early April, his wife said, before Michigan opened up vaccination to people his age.

Ms. Rivers described some online comments, including on a family GoFundMe page, as plainly hostile: “He refused the shot, how could you dare ask for money?” she recalled the tone of one message suggesting.

“Now I just feel like I want to cancel it. It’s not about money,” said Ms. Rivers, who is on short-term leave from her job installing car door panels. “I would live in a cardboard box if it meant my husband coming back to me and his kids.”

Dr. Miles, the epidemiologist who studies grief, said she had seen such dynamics play out in deaths from diseases like lung cancer or diabetes.


The name game for coronavirus variants just got a little easier – STAT – STAT

Do you have trouble keeping the names Covid-19 variants straight, and struggle to distinguish B.1.1.7 from B.1.351 or B.1.617.2?

The World Health Organization wants to help. On Monday, it announced a new naming system it devised for so-called variants of interest and variants of concern, the forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with important mutations.

Each variant will be given a name from the Greek alphabet, in a bid to both simplify the public discussion and to strip some of the stigma from the emergence of new variants. A country may be more willing to report it has found a new variant if it knows the new version of the virus will be identified as Rho or Sigma rather than with the country’s name, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s coronavirus lead, told STAT in an interview.


Under the new scheme, B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in Britain, will be known as Alpha and B.1.351, the variant first spotted in South Africa, will be Beta. P.1, the variant first detected in Brazil, will be Gamma and B.1.671.2, the so-called Indian variant, is Delta.

When the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet have been exhausted, another series like it will be announced, Van Kerkhove said.


A plan to simplify the nomenclature of the variants has been in the works for several months, led by the WHO’s Virus Evolution Working Group. But it was surprisingly tricky to come up with an acceptable system, Van Kerkhove said.

The initial plan was to create a bunch of two-syllable names that aren’t words — portmanteaus, said WHO’s Frank Konings, who leads the working group. But it quickly became apparent that too many were actually already claimed — some were the names of companies or locations, others were family names. Combining three syllables didn’t solve the problem and four syllables became unwieldy.

For a while, the group considered names of Greek gods and goddesses, but that was eventually nixed. The idea of just numbering them one, two, three, and so on was considered, but rejected because it was thought it would likely create confusion with the names the viruses are given in genetic sequence databases that track the evolution of the SARS-2.

“We’re not saying replace B.1.1.7, but really just to try to help some of the dialogue with the average person,” Van Kerkhove explained. “So that in public discourse, we could discuss some of these variants in more easy-to-use language.”

The Greek alphabet suggestion drew the approval of the experts the WHO convened to come up with the naming system, some of whom are members of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses. That group is charged with naming new species of viruses — it named SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. But it does not name subspecies of viruses, which is why this fell to the WHO.

“I heard it’s sometimes quite a challenge to come to an agreement with regards to nomenclature. This was a relatively straightforward discussion in getting to the point where everybody agreed,” Konings said.

The WHO will maintain a list of variants with their new names on its website.


Mass vaccination creates healthy oasis in Brazilian city – Yahoo Finance


China Wrecks IPO Plans for High-Flying Education Startups

(Bloomberg) — China is escalating a crackdown on its online education sector, forcing once high-flying startups to mothball plans for multi-billion-dollar initial public offerings this year.Just months ago, edtech outfits were one of the hottest investments in China’s post-Covid internet industry, pulling in more than $10 billion of venture funding last year from powerhouses like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp. Then Beijing stepped in.President Xi Jinping suggested in March the surge in after-school tutoring was putting immense pressure on on China’s kids, signaling a personal interest in curbing excesses. That led to warnings in state-owned media and penalties aimed at predatory practices that play on a nation’s obsession with academic achievement. Now, the country’s education ministry plans to create a dedicated division to oversee all private education platforms for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter.The government campaign has brought several potential mega-IPOs to a screeching halt. Tencent-backed VIPKid and Huohua Siwei have put off U.S. listings despite working in concert with banks for months, the people said. Alibaba-invested Zuoyebang will likely miss its target of debuting as soon as this year, one of them said. And Tencent-backed rival Yuanfudao — at $15.5 billion the most valuable of the lot — isn’t going to kick off IPO preparations anytime soon, they said, asking to be identified talking about internal matters.Beijing is zeroing in on tutoring startups that thrived when schools sent students home, then launched a marketing free-for-all regulators say is funneling millions of kids into mind-numbing virtual classes with uncertain benefits. Their concern centers not just on reckless pricing or advertising but also on the widening divide between the haves and have-nots — those who can afford to load up on extra lessons. To that end, officials laid out a plethora of restrictions this month including limiting the after-school tuition fees companies can charge, and fined Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang for false advertising claims.Chinese media have reported more in the offing, from bans on online courses for kids six years old or younger to restrictions on homework and mandatory licensing for all teachers. Reuters reported that new polices could include a moratorium on weekend classes, which account for more than a third of private tuition in the country according to Bloomberg Intelligence.“This could decimate revenue throughout the industry,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Catherine Lim said, referring to a blanket weekend ban.Yuanfudao declined to comment, while Zuoyebang and Huohua Siwei didn’t respond to requests for comment.A spokesman for VIPKid declined to comment on any IPO plans, but said the company is following updates in the education sector closely.Read more: Edtech Startup Zuoyebang Said to Weigh $500 Million U.S. IPOStay-at-home tutoring was growing in popularity around the world — particularly in Asia — even before Covid 19 scrapped in-person classes. But it’s in China that the industry has taken on a life of its own. On any given day, at least 50 million students — the equivalent of the entire population of Spain — could use Zuoyebang’s platform, the company has claimed.That sheer scale is why the country’s online education startups have become some of the world’s most valuable after attracting $10.5 billion of funding last year, more than was raised in total over the previous three years, according to research firm Preqin. China’s online learning market was expected to reach 315 billion yuan ($49.5 billion) in 2020, almost triple from five years ago, according to global market data tracker Statista.It also helps explain why Xi’s administration is taking unusually direct steps to influence the industry’s evolution in China. His government in general is keen to curtail the growing influence of internet giants like Tencent and Alibaba, among the industry’s biggest backers, through a series of regulatory probes and record fines.Officials are also concerned about hundreds of millions of parents plowing their savings into online classes, while subjecting children to increasingly onerous workloads. As with past booms built on shaky ground — say, in peer-to-peer lending or improperly licensed wealth management products — Beijing stepped in quickly to defuse what it perceived to be a potential ticking time bomb.The fallout was swift. GSX Techedu Inc., New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. and TAL Education Group — which mainly operate physical schools but serve as barometers of industry sentiment — have shed $55 billion of value since the start of March. Investors from SoftBank and Sequoia to Hillhouse Capital and Tiger Global, among the biggest proselytizers of past years, have been sideswiped by the ferocity of the regulatory clampdown and have in many cases been forced to pull back from lucrative exits.On Monday, GSX said it is shutting its pre-school education business for children aged 3 to 8 and cutting staff. China decided to ban kindergarten and private-tutoring schools from teaching the elementary-school curriculum from June 1, a spokeswoman said.Others however remain unfazed for now. Zhangmen Education Inc., which filed for a U.S. IPO on May 19, plans to test investors’ confidence despite the regulatory uncertainties. The e-learning upstart backed by Warburg Pincus and SoftBank has yet to pull back on a listing plan, according to one person with knowledge of the matter. And on May 25, Jiayi, a Beijing firm operating both online and offline tutoring centers, also filed for an IPO in Hong Kong. Both however cite intensifying competition and new regulatory requirements among their risk factors.Zhangmen didn’t immediately provide comment.That fierce rivalry comes through in unexpected — occasionally ominous — ways.In January, a social media furor erupted after companies including Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang and ByteDance Ltd.’s education unit hired the same actress to pose as a teacher on their platforms, local media reported. The same bespectacled woman presented herself as English and math teachers in different promotion material.In one of the promo videos posted online, she took direct aim at parental paranoia — precisely what regulators railed against. The actress, flogging a 33-hour live-streaming course package that cost just $8, warned that missing out has consequences.“It could be parents themselves who ruin their kids,” she said.Read more: Alibaba-Backed Edtech Startup Hires CFO Ahead of Likely U.S. IPO(Updates with GSX changes in 15th paragraph)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.