Artificial Intelligence, falling numbers, and much more

another instalment of our weekly round-up things we, and others think you ought to know about

AI and medicines- Regular readers will recall our enthusiasm for using AI to solve the puzzles encountered in developing new pharmaceuticals. They ‘re even helping with new antibiotics. Here that superb Spanish journal Investigaccion y Ciencia summarises work in progress. Warning; translators at the ready!

Blood group and Covid– Staying with the medical theme, that indefatigable scourer of the media, Mr Gary Herbert of Buckinghamshire offers this intriguing New Scientist piece. Does your blood group (in the ABO system) make it more likely you’ll go down with Covid- 19? Important, isn’t it?. And what about rhesus and the other markers so beloved of forensic scientists of yesteryear?

Vaccine progress- When we finally get out of this mess, it’ll be thanks to vaccines. Nature briefings has its usual cool and discerning summary of progress to date. We strongly urge you to subscribe to them in general, don’t just wait for us to pick out the best bits. And Spanish readers, you should be doing el mismo with Investigaccion y Sciencia! Our guess is that vaccines are like buses. You see none for a long time and then three come along at once.

Three new vaccines produce an immune response to the new coronavirus. Two of the vaccines — one from China’s CanSino Biologics and the other from a collaboration between Oxford University and Astrazeneca — use an altered adenovirus that mimics the coronavirus and, when injected in humans, triggers the creation of antibodies against it. The third, from Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech, relies on messenger RNA (mRNA) that synthesizes a crucial part of the coronavirus called the receptor-binding domain. They join US biotechnology company Moderna, which last week published evidence that its mRNA-based vaccine provoked immune responses in its early-stage trial. Next comes the all-important large phase III trials that will show whether these vaccines actually protect people from the new coronavirus. “What this means is that each of these vaccines is worth taking all the way through to a phase III study,” said vaccine researcher Peter Jay Hotez. “That is it. All it means is ‘worth pursuing’.”
New York Times | 6 min read
Reference: The Lancet paper 1The Lancet paper 2 & medRxiv preprint (not yet peer reviewed)

Population falls Earlier this week we discussed the implications of a falling world population, which should start to kick in by the sixties or seventies. Here Michael Safi of the Guardian presents an excellent summary. We at LSS are glad to say that we were on the right lines!

And finally...The Mail has a diverting, if not very scientific summary of the way in which our feline friends like to pass their hours of repose. We wish we had time for such leisure.

#cats #vaccine #covid19 #coronavirus #bloodgroup #artificialintelligence #medicinesresearch

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