#Covid19 Clinical Report & Does Convalescent Plasma Work? (Remember the time recovered Tom Hanks & Wife Rita donating plasma?)

Monday, 17 August, 2020

You might have heard of people recovered from #Covid19, like Tom Hanks and his wife Rita, donating their plasma in May for treatment research. OK, we are now in August with three more months of Convalescent Plasma experiences, do we have better scientific understanding whether these Convalescent Plasma actually works???

On TWiV (This Week in Virology) episode 654, experts (Virologist Vincent, and Medical Doctors Daniel Griffin and Chuck Knirsch) talk about the new medRxiv preprint paper (i.e. paper has NOT gone through proper peer review yet), “Effect of Convalescent Plasma on Mortality among Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: Initial Three-Month Experience”

I’m NOT a virologist NOR any expert, so watch/listen to the podcast yourself and learn from the pros DIRECTLY so you can evaluate the finer details yourself. Bottomline from Daniel (roughly) whose hospital system is part of this trial: “I actually find this publication offensive in their discussion. They [the paper’s authors] are a little too happy in patting themselves in the back. I think some shoulders got dislocated. […] A lot of doctors would rather give what they think works [K’s note: “think works” is NOT the same as actually/properly/scientifically “double-blind randomized controlled trial” proven to work”]  than enrol their patients in a trial and we [K’s note: sadly] gave them that option.”

TWiV 654: TWiVering with excitement (timecode 26m10s) re Convalescent Plasma Trial


(Last updated 20200915) 20200815 News Clippings – Ventilator supply #Covid19 #Canada

Saturday, 15 August, 2020

Last updated 20200915

20200915, Guardian, “Sweden records its fewest daily Covid-19 cases since March – Chief epidemiologist puts low number of cases down to light-touch ‘sustainable’ approach”

FMI: 20200320, “The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho (BS ’74) Speaks About COVID-19” (Note: I wonder if the insight in this March 20th article remains useful or relevant on 20200915?)

20200815 News Clippings

CBC News, “Ventilator supply starts to increase as chief public health officer warns of possible surge of COVID-19 – Canada ordered more than 40,000 ventilators — but only 606 have arrived”

Only a small fraction of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered but several companies involved say their production lines will start delivering the products faster in the next few weeks.

The promise of new arrivals comes as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Friday that a fall surge of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system, including its supply of critical-care beds and ventilators.

“What we know based on what we learned from other countries and cities that had a devastating impact in that initial wave, if you exceeded that capacity the mortality goes up really, really high,” she said.

Flu season and other respiratory infections common in the fall could put added pressure on the system if COVID-19 flares up in a big way.

Tam said there were many lessons learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and without enough protective equipment for health-care workers, and feared a massive surge of COVID-19 would overwhelm the health-care system.

“We are much better prepared than we were before,” she said.

CNN, “CDC’s chief of staff, deputy chief of staff depart from agency

The pair [Kyle McGowan, the chief of staff, and Amanda Campbell, the deputy chief of staff,] had been criticized by Trump administration officials for not being loyal enough. McGowan started working in Health and Human Services under then-Secretary Tom Price. He first served as director of external affairs for HHS before moving to the CDC. CNN has reached out to HHS for comment about the departures.

When our politician ask CDN stars for Covid help, they obliged as only good CDNs would!

CBC News, “Seth Rogen tells B.C.’s young people to ‘smoke weed and watch movies’ instead of partying – Joins fellow Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds in issuing COVID-19 warning”

xxx


20200812 News Clippings – The Russian Vaccine, Dr. Gupta not sending kids back to school, Kamala Harris

Wednesday, 12 August, 2020

20200812 News Clippings

20200811, Science Mag, “The Russian Vaccine”

“Many will have heard Russia’s announcement that they have approved a coronavirus vaccine. I’ve already had several people ask me what I think of it, so let me be clear: I think it’s a ridiculous publicity stunt. If it’s supposed to make Russia look like some sort of biotechnology powerhouse, then as far as I’m concerned it does the opposite. It makes them look desperate, like the nation-state equivalent of a bunch of penny-stock promoters. The new airliner design prototype just got off the ground – time to sell tickets and load it full of passengers, right?

Why so negative? Look at what’s being claimed – the first coronavirus vaccine to receive regulatory approval. But “regulatory approval” is not some international gold standard, and these sorts of decisions show you why. Let’s be honest: there is no way that you can responsibly “approve” a vaccine after it’s only been into human trials for what numerous reports say is less than two months. That’s about enough time to do the first steps, a Phase I trial that gives you some idea of immune response across more than one dose. It is simply not enough time to do a reasonable efficacy workup as well, and absolutely not enough time to get any sort of reading on safety. Here’s a good article going into those timelines in more depth.”

20200812, CNN, “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I am not sending my kids back to school”

20200812, NYT, “Why Kamala Harris Matters to Me”

PBS News Hour tweet (very heart warming story): “In a photo of Joe Biden asking Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, you can see a Hagar the Horrible comic strip on his desk. – In 2018, Biden shared with @JudyWoodruff why that strip is meaningful to him”

xxx


How do you know SARS-CoV-2 (#Covid19) is not man-made, man altered, or genetically engineered?

Monday, 3 August, 2020

Since covid19 kinda took over our world, I geek out and try to learn more about the science of this monster.

Anyway, one great source of scientific information I accidentally discovered (via Gladwell when he talked about himself interviewing Fauci when he was reporting on HIV-AIDS years ago) is a podcast call TWiV “This Week in Virology”. I started listening to TWiV in recent months hosted by a group of virologists that have been recording the TWiV podcast for 10+ years (e.g. Sept 2008: “TWiV 2: Polio is not dead”).

In this May 2020 episode “TWiV 610: Coronavirus FAQ” which at the 1:14:55 timecode, they answered a listener Margaret’s question:

“what are your thoughts on the Wuhan bioterrorism theory?”

The Q&A is about 15 minutes long only. Totally worth your time.

Here is an excerpt from TWiV Helper Kiki’s comments on TWiV 610:

*Margaret: what are your thoughts on the Wuhan bioterrorism theory—intelligent people apparently are going into conspiracy theories? Quote from Ed Young in the Atlantic (quoting someone else) “Journalists still think of their job as producing new content, but if your goal is public understanding for COVID-19, one piece of new content after another doesn’t get you there, it requires a lot of background knowledge to understand the updates and the news system is terrible at providing that knowledge. Instead the staccato pulse of reports merely amplifies the wobbliness of the scientific process, turns incremental bits of evidence into game changers, and intensifies the already palpable sense of uncertainty that drives people towards misinformation.” Plain English explanations:

how do you know SARS-CoV-2 is not man-made, man altered, or genetically engineered? Evidence points to CoV-2 originating in nature NOT in a lab. First you would need a virus to start with that we can then engineer—from all the papers and genomes that are accessible in the databases, there was no virus that we had accessed that was close enough to CoV-2 that could have been human modified to the current form, except a bat virus from 2013 that is still genetically very different. Nobody took a virus that did not infect people and modified it so that it could: first, because scientists currently do not know how to do that, second, because there is nothing genetically close enough to be a precursor. Again scientists wouldn’t know what to do—the viruses being made have all had research into infecting animal vectors like mice, so there is a large gap in knowledge. While it is possible to chemically synthesize this virus from scratch, it is very unlikely that scientists would know what to make. There are differences from the 2013 bat virus in the receptor binding domain (RBD) and the furin cleavage site that make sense for increased infection capability and to make the virus pathogenic to people, but there are also a lot of accrued mutations (eg mistakes and changes in the RNA) that don’t appear to have any particular effect. It is hard to imagine how all of those random changes would have been picked up if this was being made in a lab—seeing all of the random mutations or genetic drift that would be seen if the virus was evolving in nature but not what you would see if the virus was evolving in the lab is the biggest indicator that this is not man-made. There are too many natural-looking mutations to be likely created. The furin site as an intention insertion is off-base as it is not necessary to infect humans. There are bits and pieces that people would not have thought to combine into a successful virus. Also, some of the changes to the RBD are novel and had a very unexpected impact on viral transmission, so this would be incredibly unlikely to have been found and used with no prior research. Bottom line: there is zero evidence that CoV-2 came from a lab and a ton of evidence that the virus came from nature


Dr. Anthony Fauci at Stanford Med Webinar

Monday, 13 July, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci & Dean Lloyd Minor in a Fireside Chat | StanfordMed LIVE – July 13, 2020

via CNN //Fauci: In 50 years, we’ll talk about coronavirus “the way we used to reflect on the 1918 outbreak”

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci called the global coronavirus pandemic “unprecedented” and “the worst nightmare.”

“One thinks about the worst nightmare of an infectious disease person who’s interested in global health and outbreaks – is the combination of a new microbe that has [a] spectacular … degree of capability of transmitting, and also has a considerable degree of morbidity and mortality – and here it is, it’s happened,” Fauci said while speaking during a webinar with the Stanford School of Medicine.

“Your worst nightmare, the perfect storm,” he added. “I think 50 years from now, people are going to be reflecting historically on this, the way we used to reflect on the 1918 outbreak,” Fauci said.//

via CNN: //US didn’t shut down entirely, and now country is seeing surging cases, Fauci says Read the rest of this entry »


20200624 Kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight

Thursday, 25 June, 2020

Posts from 20200624

1a) #GreatPodcast #LoversInADangerousTime “Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight”
On this Tuen Ng Festival (#端午節), here is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, and insightful podcast to listen.

#FrontBurner //One woman’s fight to free her husband from a Chinese jail//

//In an exclusive interview this week with The National’s Adrienne Arsenault, Michael Kovrig’s wife spoke out for the first time.

Vina Nadjibulla says Ottawa could do more to get her husband — and Canadian Michael Spavor — out of jail in China. Both men were arrested in December of 2018 just days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on behalf of American justice officials.

Today on Front Burner, Arsenault brings us more on Nadjibulla’s fight for her husband’s freedom — and how she is helping him stay resilient.//

1b) 20200622 //Michael Kovrig’s wife on fighting for his freedom: exclusive interview//

//Michael Kovrig’s wife (though separated) Vina Nadjibulla speaks for the first time in an exclusive interview with Adrienne Arsenault about his detention, Canada’s diplomacy and her fears for the future. Nadjibulla also shares letters Kovrig has sent during his 560 days in a Chinese prison.

#MichaelKovrig
#MichaelSpavor
#China
#Huawei//

2) Two great answers from Dr. Mike & Dr. Maria (WHO 20200624 WHO Media briefing on COVID-19)

WHO official transcript PDF link: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/transcripts/virtual-press-conference—24-june—covid-19.pdf

38:08 MR (from WHO official transacript) “If I could add on this, we tend to get positive information on remdesivir and we all chase that for a while and then we get stuff on dexamethasone and then we have a discussion about oxygen and then we have a discussion about other things.I think we need to really start seeing this as how do we optimise the clinical management of all patients who become sick; from the very moment that someone feels sick, getting an early diagnosis, being able to see a qualified physician or nurse and understanding, that physician or nurse being able to understand your underlying conditions, your likely risk and being able to put you into a pathway to see and seek and have the right care available. […]”

42:52 MK “That’s really a fantastic question. We are living in a time right now where there’re so many different groups that are carrying out really incredible research, real-time research right now for a new virus that we didn’t know anything about six months ago.We are learning about severity, we’re learning about transmission, we’re learning about treatments, we’re learning about every aspect of this virus and it’s happening at an incredibly rapid pace so that’s very positive. We’re seeing innovation in areas that we hadn’t seen before. You’ve mentioned the use of masks and we talk about different types of fabrics. That didn’t exist a few months ago.”

3) 20200624 Presser – Trudeau addresses calls to intervene in Meng Wanzhou case, announces investments for students | FULL

xxx


20200618 – Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Science is Truth”

Thursday, 18 June, 2020

Learning Curve (Podcast from HHS.gov) Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Science is Truth” Wednesday, June 17, 2020

“AF: Yeah. Well, one of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are, for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable, they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority. So, when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that. And that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth. And if you go by the evidence and by the data, you’re speaking the truth.

And it’s amazing sometimes the denial there is, it’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines. That’s really a problem. I think the people who believe or people who understand and have trust in someone who has a very, very long track record of always speaking the truth based on evidence, and I’ve done that, as you said, through now six administrations. This is my sixth administration.”

Reuters, 20200618, Chinese fighter jets buzz Taiwan again, stoking tensions


Ditch #complicated #remdesivir #Patent2017 and focus on #GS441524 #Simpler #Safer #ancestor #Patent2009?

Thursday, 14 May, 2020

The following news is highly technical #Chemical #Pharmaceutical #Covid19 science. If I may share with you my trick and general approach to learning: I often try to read something and understand it as much as I can KNOWING I don’t know a LOT. Knowing what questions to ask and what we don’t know is part way to understanding/”some minor progress in understanding” new cutting edge science. To quote a Quote I LOVE by the Nobel Economist Ronald Coase when he was 100 years old, “You don’t know what you can learn until you try to learn.”

Have a read of May 14, 2020, Stat News, “Gilead should ditch remdesivir and focus on its simpler and safer ancestor” By Victoria C. Yan and Florian L. Muller  [HT Gabriel @gmleunghku for his RT this morning, I saw the STAT News op-ed but his RT put it more on my radar]

Here is an excerpt from //Opinion: Gilead has another antiviral that’s easier to make and safer to use than remdesivir. Why isn’t it giving that drug any attention? The world can only hope it isn’t for the sake of protecting its intellectual property.//

“The attractive profile of GS-441524 from both manufacturing and clinical perspectives raises this question: Why hasn’t Gilead opted to advance this compound to the clinic? We would be remiss for not mentioning patents, and thus profits. The first patent on GS-441524 was issued in 2009, while the first patent for remdesivir was issued in 2017.

We aren’t the only ones questioning Gilead’s strategy. We have spoken with a number of chemists, biochemists, veterinarians, and others who are also surprised that GS-441524 has remained out of the spotlight. Veterinarians we spoke to have noted that the strong antiviral activity of GS-441524 has resulted in a “miraculous turn of events” for cats infected with feline coronavirus, which was once considered a death sentence.

Given GS-441524’s optimal properties, we — along with the millions of people awaiting an effective treatment for Covid-19 — are left to wonder why Gilead isn’t giving it the same attention it is giving remdesivir. The world can only hope it isn’t for the sake of protecting its intellectual property.”

[NOTE: Do NOT take experts’ words blindly but let them highlight potentially interesting questions or where cutting edge science is]

P,S, In the 90s, I, for no good reasons that I can remember and may be I had too much money to waste/spend, subscribed to The New England Journal of Medicine for one full year! May be it was to broaden my understanding of medical science, better armed myself to read medical research, or simply to reduce my fear of reading research papers that I really know very little! I particular enjoy, if I remember right, reading the concluding paragraphs of many research papers talking about what’s “NEXT” for the researchers, what were their “unknowns”!

Gilead should ditch remdesivir and focus on its simpler and safer ancestor - pix

Gilead should ditch remdesivir and focus on its simpler and safer ancestor – pix


I am the F**King Virus – a Pandemic #Covid19 Documentary Poetry short film

Thursday, 9 April, 2020

“I am the F**King Virus” is Kempton‘s first foray into Poetry, specifically Documentary Poetry (see note below), and even more specifically the form of Documentary Poetry short film.

==== See Director’s statement plus more reference notes below after the documentary poetry ====

I am the F**King Virus – a Documentary Poem by Kempton

(20200417 version 2.48163264128256512102420484096)

I am the F**King Virus

You covered me up. And let me killed thousands

Thank you. Xie Xie. Or is it Xi Xi

WHO studied me and recommended how to beat me

but few read her report so I infected 100,000s more

How do I say thank you in Italian, Spanish, German, Persian, French, Korean, and Trumpian

I am the F**King Virus

We shall fight on the beaches

We shall fight under the cherry blossom trees

We shall fight in the churches, mosques, and synagogues

We shall fight in close combat less than 2 meters apart (with no Physical Distancing)

We can stop fighting now IF you accept my price of 1.4% of you ALL
(mostly elderly, the weak plus some healthy young human beings)

I am the F**King virus

I am on the Edge of Tomorrow or is it Live Die Repeat Read the rest of this entry »


Your #covid19 control measures have got to be exponential – New Quote I Love

Friday, 27 March, 2020

Here is a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“”This is a virus (#SARS-CoV-2 / #covid19) that once it does take off, it is going to move and increase exponentially, … your control measures have got to be exponential as well to get in front of it. So small incremental measures won’t work.”” – Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO


Bill Gates foretelling TED talk on Pandemic in 2015 & his views on #covid19 now

Thursday, 26 March, 2020

Here are two videos where you can watch Bill Gates foresight on Pandemic in 2015 & his views on #covid19 now. If his advices were heeded in 2015, thousands and thousands of lives could have been saved from #covid19.

The next outbreak? We’re not ready | Bill Gates

2020 March 25, How we must respond to the COVID-19 pandemic | Bill Gates

And as a bonus video given by Dr. Bruce Aylward. Sadly, if his words from one month and one day ago were heeded by leaders of UK and UK, then they can certainly avoid many more daths

20200225, “Coronavirus outbreak: WHO expert says countries must shift mindset to virus preparedness | FULL”


I am the F**King Virus – a #Covid19 Documentary Poem

Sunday, 22 March, 2020

20200413 Update: See this link for the latest text and video short film of “I am the F**King Virus – a Pandemic #Covid19 Documentary Poetry short film”. The following text is NO longer updated with any further changes.

20200403 Update: Kempton has now written his second poem, “We are Your Tomorrow, with love“, another #covid19 poem.

====

(Written Sat & Sun March 21-22, 2020 as the world fights the deadly covid19. My heart is broken. Witness data on two screens captured 4 hours apart this morning on March 22nd. I write without malice but with hope. Never Give Up! We can and will win this WWIII of Covid19 together! Inspired by poet & reporter Yuri‘s poem “I AM THE VIRUS“. Many thanks to Yuri for her encouragement plus wonderful feedback & suggestions for improvements. As I tweeted, “Life is too short so I’m going to make a fool of myself by attempting my first poem! I hope I won’t die of #shame before #covid19 kills me!” Will see about that.)

I am the F**King Virus – a Documentary Poem by Kempton

(version 2.481632641282565121024)

I am the F**King Virus

You covered me up. And let me killed thousands

Thank you. Xie Xie. Or is it Xi Xi

WHO studied me and recommended how to beat me

but few read her report so I infected 100,000s more

How do I say thank you in Italian, Spanish, German, Persian, French, Korean, and Trumpian

I am the F**King Virus

We shall fight on the beaches

We shall fight under the cherry blossom trees

We shall fight in the churches, mosques, and synagogues

We shall fight in close combat less than 2 meters apart (with no Physical Distancing)

We can stop fighting now IF you accept my price of 1.4% of you ALL (mostly elderly, the weak plus some healthy young human beings)

I am the F**King virus

I am on the Edge of Tomorrow or is it Live Die Repeat

You are now awakened. You want to act brave and play Emily Blunt or Tom Cruise

You have finally found those bottles of deathbed messages on your empty beaches

You finally care. WHO cares. Really. Always

Give up now. My first offer of 1.4% of you ALL is gone. Now my market price has gone up to 9% (thank you China, Italy, Spain, Iran, France, and the good old US of A)

I am the F**King Virus

I am not your “Chinese Virus”. But I love your infighting. Hatred is my Superman’s yellow sun

My name is COVID19. My friend WHO gave me that lovely name.
WHO talked to me, cared about me, and studied me when few had heard about me.
I am the Fun King of Virus. Your Holocaust 2.0.
How Game of Thrones should have ended.
Your World War III genocide of humans.

I love sports. See you in Tokyo Olympics. Yes to “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, especially Faster. Like Bond, James Bond. Faster, Spread Faster

Time helps me kill you exponentially fast. But time is also fair. Time told me I cannot mutate faster to kill you better

I wish I am not illiterate. I wish I can read the WHO-China Joint Mission report, your letters/research papers in The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Stat News and so much more. I wish I could stop you from researching for cures. I wish there is no SOLIDARITY global megatrial. I wish I could stop you from “Testing, Testing, Testing”. I wish I could change my battle plans to fight you better. Most of all, I wish I could stop you from washing your damn hands. I wish, I wish, I wish. I kill, I kill, I kill

I am the F**King virus

I am COVID-19 of the House SARS, the Second of Her Name,

Reigning Fun King of Virus, Stopper of Flights, Builder of Walls, Destroyer of Alliances

Divider of United “PPE for Highest Bidders” States, Breaker of Supply Chains and Mother of Bats.

Unless Humanity stops her infighting and work together as One to end me now

I will be back

at 10.19.08 AM 20200322 (318,209 confirmed, Total Deaths 13,664, Total Recovered 94,700) - Screen Shot

at 10.19.08 AM 20200322 (318,209 confirmed, Total Deaths 13,664, Total Recovered 94,700) – Screen Shot

at 6.12.58 AM 20200322 (311,988 confirmed, Total Deaths 13,407, Total Recovered 93,790) - Screen Shot

at 6.12.58 AM 20200322 (311,988 confirmed, Total Deaths 13,407, Total Recovered 93,790) – Screen Shot


#covid19 daily press briefing 20 March 2020 – Live from WHO Headquarters (with timecodes to Q&As)

Friday, 20 March, 2020

#covid19 daily press briefing 20 March 2020 – Live from WHO Headquarters

List of timecodes to help quickly access specific sections where Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Dr. Mike Ryan, and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove answered questions from the press:

0:00 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus starts press conference
11:52 Q1 by reporter from China state owned Xinhua News Agency
12:28 A1 Dr. Mike Ryan answer re implication of China has no new cases since yesterday.
14:07 Q2 from Iran re Nowruz [which means “new day”/Iranian New Year, a holiday marking the arrival of spring]
15:12 A2 from Dr. Mike Ryan
17:38 A2 from Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
18:48 Q3
19:24 A3 Dr. Mike Ryan
22:30 A3 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
23:38 Q4
24:16 A4 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
26:02 Q5 Email question from India
26:35 A5 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
28:08 Q6
28:35 A6 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
29:30 Q7
30:00 A7 Dr. Mike Ryan re lack of supply globally
34:55 A7 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
35:34 “Some countries are banning exports and that cannot be a solution”
37:00 A7 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove re recommendations on the use of masks on an individual level.
38:18 Q8
38:44 A8 Dr. Mike Ryan 41:00 These are the healthcare systems collapsing …
42:20 A8 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
43:22 Q9 from Greece
44:02 A9 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
45:00 A9 Dr. Mike Ryan
47:38 A9 & Concluding comments from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


Better Angels Swimming Naked #covid19

Friday, 20 March, 2020

 

20200319 - Ottawa taking charge of housing asylum seekers during 14-day isolation period

20200319 – Ottawa taking charge of housing asylum seekers during 14-day isolation period

Breaking news update (20200320 ~9:20am): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his March 20th press conference announced Canada & US have agreed to turn back asylum seekers to stop spread of covid19. (news link, CBC News, “Canada to turn back asylum seekers, close border at midnight to stop spread of COVID-19”).

The reciprocal agreement on irregular migrants, which Trudeau called an “exceptional” and temporary measure, was signed earlier today. The development comes just one day after the government announced all border-crossers would be under quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and that the federal government was looking for space to shelter the arrivals.

I decided to leave this post up for the record.

====

After reading a news report of “Ottawa taking charge of housing asylum seekers during 14-day isolation period“, I have to admit small part of me would rather see the asylum seekers stop coming to Canada during #covid19. But the better angels in me realize legitimate asylum seekers crossing the border are fleeing grave dangers like wars, deadly personal persecutions (e.g. for merely being gay) and have little choice.

Famed investor Warren Buffett likes to say,

“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

Warren inspired me to cook up this version:

Only in a global pandemic like covid19 do you discover a country’s true character and if her better angels have been swimming naked.

It is heartbreaking to see covid19 has killed thousands around the world and has harmed even more and some survivors will forever live with serious multi-organ injuries. One may argue it is even more heartbreaking see people around the world succumbed to succumbed to covid19-induced hatred and racism in United States, Hong Kong, and around the world. For our collective souls may be irrevocably harmed or extremely difficult to mend.

NOTE: News story is using an old photo from Aug 2017, Canada still has wintry conditions.

References:

1) 20200311, The Lancet, “Comorbidities and multi-organ injuries in the treatment of COVID-19”

2) 20200318, Yamiche Alcindor’s tweet (with video), “My Q: Are WH officials using term “Kong-Flu” to describe coronavirus wrong? And, are you concerned that term “Chinese virus” will put Asian-Americans at risk of being targeted?
Pres Trump: “Not at all. I think they probably would agree with it 100 percent.”
Full video below.”

3) 20200229, The Lancet, Roger Yat-Nork Chung, Phd, Minnie Ming Li, Phd “Anti-Chinese sentiment during the 2019-nCoV outbreak” (or via Lancet direct)


Italian death toll overtakes China’s as #covid19 spreads – Can China’s number be trusted?

Thursday, 19 March, 2020
Italy vs China data - JHU Med - Screen Shot 2020-03-19

Italy vs China data – JHU Med – Screen Shot 2020-03-19

#Sobering day as //Italian death toll overtakes China’s as virus spreads// (20200319, City News 1130)

* 3405 reported deaths out of 41,035 cases in Italy (quoting JHU Med map data taken as of 20200319 ~3pm data)

* 3249 reported deaths out of 81,155 cases in China

* Let me try to address the widespread distrust in China’s numbers by some HongKongers and Chinese around the world. The dictatorial ruthless Xi BJ gov is rightfully to be distrusted but hear me out …

An #Exponential growth in cases and deaths mean that cases and deaths double in N number of days, say 5-6 days. Thinking like an Epidemiologist (which I am NOT) so lets have a #ThoughtExperiment.

China might be under reporting few (even a large number of) cases here and there BUT the exponential power of #covid19 in its growth and kill figures as China was in an uncontrolled growth phase means that thousands and thousands of deaths need to be hidden.

#ThoughtExperiment In just one (1) month, assuming exponential growth in 5 days. An initial Day01 deaths of 2,000, after just SIX (6) doubling, means that you have 2,000 x 64 = 128,000 deaths on Day30!

Try hiding ~128,000 deaths without having their families and loved ones willing to die to overturn the government!

Of course, if you still don’t trust my #ThoughtExperiment, no problem. Trust that #covid19 doesn’t really give a beep of what we think. It will keep on infecting and killing until it has no one to kill. So Xi as any dictatorial ruthless emperor wants to do, he wants some people to rule over and not to have them all died under his rule.


#covid19 news, research, vaccines, drugs

Monday, 2 March, 2020

Here are some #covid19 news, interesting research, vaccine, drug info. I’ll try to add to this post periodically if I can. (Last update: 20200310, Created: 20200302)

====

20200310 (Tweet thread with paper link) Insightful & important #covid19 paper from Harvard

//Conclusion: Even after the lockdown of Wuhan on January 23, the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients continued to rise, exceeding local hospitalization and ICU capacities for at least a month. Plans are urgently needed to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 outbreaks on the local healthcare system in US cities.//
//The demand for inpatient and ICU beds for COVID-19 in the US: lessons from Chinese cities// Many thanks to //Ruoran Li *1; [@ruoranepi] Caitlin Rivers 2; Qi Tan 3,4; Megan B Murray 3; Eric Toner 2; Marc Lipsitch 1 [@mlipsitch]//

20200309 NYT Opinion – This Is Life Under Lockdown in Italy – Your tickets for concerts and soccer games are useless. Your children can’t go to school. Even Mass is canceled.

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20200309, WHO “Coronavirus outbreak: WHO calls threat of COVID-19 pandemic “very real” | FULL”

20200309, Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. officials announce Canada’s first COVID-19 death

20200309, Coronavirus outbreak: 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta | FULL

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20200306, “Live from WHO HQ – Daily Press Briefing on COVID-19 –Coronavirus 6MARCH2020”

20200306, CNN podcast, “Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction”

20200304 NPR, “How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19’s Spread Could Help Fight The Virus” (~4 minutes)

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20200305, Live from WHO HQ – Daily Press Briefing on COVID-19 –Coronavirus 05MARCH2020

20200302, CNBC, How this Canadian start-up spotted coronavirus before everyone else knew about it

Ref: 20200304, U of T’s Kamran Khan on how his startup used AI to spot the coronavirus before anyone else: CNBC

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20200304, NPR, (~4 mins) “How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19’s Spread Could Help Fight The Virus”

20200304 CBC News, “Trudeau appoints new cabinet committee for COVID-19 response and warns of economic impact”

The committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, will complement the work done by the Incident Response Group, meeting regularly to co-ordinate and prepare for a response to the health and economic impacts of the virus.

‘All possible measures’ to limit COVID-19 impact

Trudeau said the committee will work with provincial, territorial and international partners to make sure Canada’s response “takes all possible measures to prevent and limit the spread of the virus in Canada.”

Other ministers on the eight-member committee include Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Kirsty Duncan, deputy government House leader and scientist who wrote a book [BMJ book review of “Hunting the 1918 Flu: OneScientist’s Search for a Killer Virus” by Kirsty Duncan] on the origins of the 1918 Spanish flu, will also be a core participant of the meetings.

20200304 NYT “Inside China’s All-Out War on the Coronavirus Dr. Bruce Aylward, of the W.H.O., got a rare glimpse into Beijing’s campaign to stop the epidemic. Here’s what he saw.” #covid19 #TheydWhipYouThroughaCTScan #WayneGretzkyOfViruses
Good questions and insightful/nuanced answers. Don’t be dogmatic and blindly mistrust WHO. *Blindly* anything is bad science. #TeachableMoments

//Dr. Aylward, who has 30 years experience in fighting polio, Ebola and other global health emergencies, detailed in an interview with The New York Times how he thinks the campaign against the virus should be run.//
//[Q] Are the cases in China really going down?

[A] I know there’s suspicion, but at every testing clinic we went to, people would say, “It’s not like it was three weeks ago.” It peaked at 46,000 people asking for tests a day; when we left, it was 13,000. Hospitals had empty beds.

I didn’t see anything that suggested manipulation of numbers. A rapidly escalating outbreak has plateaued, and come down faster than would have been expected. Back of the envelope, it’s hundreds of thousands of people in China that did not get Covid-19 because of this aggressive response.

[Q] Is the virus infecting almost everyone, as you would expect a novel flu to?

[A] No — 75 to 80 percent of all clusters are in families. You get the odd ones in hospitals or restaurants or prisons, but the vast majority are in families. And only 5 to 15 percent of your close contacts develop disease. So they try to isolate you from your relatives as quickly as possible, and find everyone you had contact with in 48 hours before that.

[Q] You said different cities responded differently. How?

[A] It depended on whether they had zero cases, sporadic ones, clusters or widespread transmission.

First, you have to make sure everyone knows the basics: hand-washing, masks, not shaking hands, what the symptoms are. Then, to find sporadic cases, they do fever checks everywhere, even stopping cars on highways to check everyone.

As soon as you find clusters, you shut schools, theaters, restaurants. Only Wuhan and the cities near it went into total lockdown.

[Q] How did the Chinese reorganize their medical response?

[A] First, they moved 50 percent of all medical care online so people didn’t come in. Have you ever tried to reach your doctor on Friday night? Instead, you contacted one online. If you needed prescriptions like insulin or heart medications, they could prescribe and deliver it.

[Q] But if you thought you had coronavirus?

[A] You would be sent to a fever clinic. They would take your temperature, your symptoms, medical history, ask where you’d traveled, your contact with anyone infected. They’d whip you through a CT scan …

[Q] Wait — “whip you through a CT scan”?

[A} Each machine did maybe 200 a day. Five, 10 minutes a scan. Maybe even partial scans. A typical hospital in the West does one or two an hour. And not X-rays; they could come up normal, but a CT would show the “ground-glass opacities” they were looking for.

(Dr. Aylward was referring to lung abnormalities seen in coronavirus patients.)

[Q] And then?

[A] If you were still a suspect case, you’d get swabbed. But a lot would be told, “You’re not Covid.” People would come in with colds, flu, runny noses. That’s not Covid. If you look at the symptoms, 90 percent have fever, 70 percent have dry coughs, 30 percent have malaise, trouble breathing. Runny noses were only 4 percent.

[Q] The swab was for a PCR test, right? How fast could they do that? Until recently, we were sending all of ours to Atlanta.

[A] They got it down to four hours.

[Q] So people weren’t sent home?

[A] No, they had to wait. You don’t want someone wandering around spreading virus.

[Q] If they were positive, what happened?

[A] They’d be isolated. In Wuhan, in the beginning, it was 15 days from getting sick to hospitalization. They got it down to two days from symptoms to isolation. That meant a lot fewer infected — you choke off this thing’s ability to find susceptibles.

[Q] What’s the difference between isolation and hospitalization?

[A] With mild symptoms, you go to an isolation center. They were set up in gymnasiums, stadiums — up to 1,000 beds. But if you were severe or critical, you’d go straight to hospitals. Anyone with other illnesses or over age 65 would also go straight to hospitals.

[Q] What were mild, severe and critical? We think of “mild” as like a minor cold.

[A] No. “Mild” was a positive test, fever, cough — maybe even pneumonia, but not needing oxygen. “Severe” was breathing rate up and oxygen saturation down, so needing oxygen or a ventilator. “Critical” was respiratory failure or multi-organ failure.

[Q] So saying 80 percent of all cases are mild doesn’t mean what we thought.

[A] I’m Canadian. This is the Wayne Gretzky of viruses — people didn’t think it was big enough or fast enough to have the impact it does.

[Q] Hospitals were also separated?

[A] Yes. The best hospitals were designated just for Covid, severe and critical. All elective surgeries were postponed. Patients were moved. Other hospitals were designated just for routine care: women still have to give birth, people still suffer trauma and heart attacks.

They built two new hospitals, and they rebuilt hospitals. If you had a long ward, they’d build a wall at the end with a window, so it was an isolation ward with “dirty” and “clean” zones. You’d go in, gown up, treat patients, and then go out the other way and de-gown. It was like an Ebola treatment unit, but without as much disinfection because it’s not body fluids.

[Q] How good were the severe and critical care?

[A] China is really good at keeping people alive. Its hospitals looked better than some I see here in Switzerland. We’d ask, “How many ventilators do you have?” They’d say “50.” Wow! We’d say, “How many ECMOs?” They’d say “five.” The team member from the Robert Koch Institute said, “Five? In Germany, you get three, maybe. And just in Berlin.”

(ECMOs are extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines, which oxygenate the blood when the lungs fail.)

[Q] Who paid for all of this?

[A] The government made it clear: testing is free. And if it was Covid-19, when your insurance ended, the state picked up everything.

In the U.S., that’s a barrier to speed. People think: “If I see my doctor, it’s going to cost me $100. If I end up in the I.C.U., what’s it going to cost me?” That’ll kill you. That’s what could wreak havoc. This is where universal health care coverage and security intersect. The U.S. has to think this through.

[Q] What about the nonmedical response?

[A] It was nationwide. There was this tremendous sense of, “We’ve got to help Wuhan,” not “Wuhan got us into this.” Other provinces sent 40,000 medical workers, many of whom volunteered.

In Wuhan, our special train pulled in at night, and it was the saddest thing — the big intercity trains roar right through, with the blinds down.

We got off, and another group did. I said, “Hang on a minute, I thought we were the only ones allowed to get off.” They had these little jackets and a flag — it was a medical team from Guangdong coming in to help. […]

[Q] Isn’t all of this impossible in America?

[A] Look, journalists are always saying: “Well, we can’t do this in our country.” There has to be a shift in mind-set to rapid response thinking. Are you just going to throw up your hands? There’s a real moral hazard in that, a judgment call on what you think of your vulnerable populations.

Ask yourself: Can you do the easy stuff? Can you isolate 100 patients? Can you trace 1,000 contacts? If you don’t, this will roar through a community.

[Q] Isn’t it possible only because China is an autocracy?

[A] Journalists also say, “Well, they’re only acting out of fear of the government,” as if it’s some evil fire-breathing regime that eats babies. I talked to lots of people outside the system — in hotels, on trains, in the streets at night.

They’re mobilized, like in a war, and it’s fear of the virus that was driving them. They really saw themselves as on the front lines of protecting the rest of China. And the world.

[Q] China is restarting its economy now. How can it do that without creating a new wave of infections?

[A] It’s a “phased restart.” It means different things in different provinces.

Some are keeping schools closed longer. Some are only letting factories that make things crucial to the supply chain open. For migrant workers who went home — well, Chengdu has 5 million migrant workers.

First, you have to see a doctor and get a certificate that you’re “no risk.” It’s good for three days.

Then you take the train to where you work. If it’s Beijing, you then have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Your temperature is monitored, sometimes by phone, sometimes by physical check.

[Q] What’s going on with the treatment clinical trials?

[A] They’re double-blind trials, so I don’t know the results. We should know more in a couple of weeks.

The biggest challenge was enrolling people. The number of severe patients is dropping, and there’s competition for them. And every ward is run by a team from another province, so you have to negotiate with each one, make sure they’re doing the protocols right.

And there are 200 trials registered — too many. I told them: “You’ve got to prioritize things that have promising antiviral properties.”//

20200301 CBC Radio, Cross Country Checkup – ASK ME ANYTHING 5 lessons about COVID-19 from doctor who led WHO mission to China – Bruce Aylward took questions from callers on Cross Country Checkup

20200304 CNN, “Canceling SXSW festival won’t make the community safer, Austin health officials say” [Note: Time will tell if this decision is wise or not. I worry not. They may change this decision later too. Will see.]

20200303 Science Mag “Indonesia finally reports two coronavirus cases. Scientists worry it has many more

But epidemiologists have long said COVID-19’s absence in the world’s fourth most populous nation was implausible, given the large number of visitors—both for tourism and business—from nearby China. A modeling study based on the number of travelers from Wuhan, published by a team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on bioRxiv on 11 February, concluded that even then, it was unlikely that Indonesia did not have a single COVID-19 case. (Indonesian Minister of Health Terawan Agus Putranto called the study insulting and later said the lack of cases was the result of prayer.)

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20200302 (hope we don’t need this but SK is cool in this efficient way to do test and get sample) //South Korea is pioneering a coronavirus drive-through testing station that officials say is faster and safer than going to a hospital or clinic// [HT @klustout]

20200303 WHO, “Coronavirus outbreak: World Health Organization says virus death toll has surpassed 3,100 worldwide”

20200303 Vox, “China’s cases of Covid-19 are finally declining. A WHO expert explains why. “It’s all about speed”: the most important lessons from China’s Covid-19 response.” [HT Kai “Also highly recommend reading this great interview by @juliaoftoronto with mission head Bruce Aylward:”]

“Q: Julia Belluz
In the elderly, what explains the high death rate? Is it something about deterioration of the immune system with age or the higher probability you have [of developing] other illnesses as you age?

A: Bruce Aylward
I think it’s the latter. These people are dying of an inflammatory process in their lungs. It’s not an infectious process, like a bacterial or viral infection. It’s inflammatory, like we see with SARS. We’re not sure of the mechanism. We do know the proportion of people who die who had cancer was half compared to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes is a little bit lower than those two, and cancer lower again.”

Read the rest of this entry »


News Clippings 20200121

Tuesday, 21 January, 2020

Some News Clippings on 20200121:

20200121, Guardian, Coronavirus: Chinese hospitals not testing patients, say relatives – Number of cases, and deaths, could be much higher than those cited in official reports if claims are true

//On 12 January Huang got news his healthy 65-year-old mother had been checked into a hospital in the central Chinese city of Wuhan with a fever and a cough. […]

The hospital pressured the family to immediately cremate Huang’s mother, but they refused, asking for more information. A few days later, they relented and workers from a funeral home, also in protective clothing, retrieved, cremated and buried her within a few hours, leaving the family no time to say goodbye. Afterwards, the staff disinfected the van they had travelled in and threw away their hamzat suits.

“My mother’s death was dealt with without any dignity,” said Huang, 40, who did not want to give his or his mother’s full name. “She wasn’t even counted as a number on the government’s list,” he said, referring to the six people authorities say have been killed by the virus.//

20200121, BBC News, (with vide of HKU Med), New China virus: Warning against cover-up as number of cases jumps

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News Clippings 20200120

Monday, 20 January, 2020

I’ll try to add to my collection of News Clippings regularly if I can. Here are a few added on 20200120:

20200120 Guardian, (part 1 of 2) #HumanToHumanTransmission Very sad to learn [14] medical staff had been infected! “China confirms human-to-human transmission of coronavirus

//China’s National Health Commission has confirmed human-to-human transmission of a mysterious Sars-like virus that has spread across the country and fuelled anxiety about the prospect of a major outbreak as millions begin travelling for lunar new year celebrations.

Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak, confirmed that two cases of infection in China’s Guangdong province had been caused by human-to-human transmission and medical staff had been infected, China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.//

20200120 China CCTV, “新型冠状病毒如何防控?会否重复SARS疫情?钟南山:呈现人传人特点

(part 2 of 2) #HumanToHumanTransmission Very sad to learn 14 medical staff had been infected! Via Chinese source: //Pulmonologist ZHONG Nanshan, leads an expert group to investigate the #WuhanPneumonia, said human-to-human transmission is confirmed. Also 14 medics have been infected by the novel coronavirus, reports state media CCTV.//

//疫情发展到什么阶段?
钟南山 [国家卫健委高级别专家组组长钟南山院士]:呈现人传人特点 有14个医护人员感染 […]

武汉减少输出是非常重要的一个方面,武汉会有很严格的筛查检测措施,特别是体温检测,体温高的不建议离开武汉。预防和控制最有效的方法是早发现早治疗,确诊病例的隔离治疗非常重要,这个冠状病毒没有特效药,但是现在正在进行一些动物试验观察,科学研究要跟上。春节期间,估计得病的人数还会有增加,要防止传播,防止出现超级传播者。//

[HT @chiangst]

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Clinical study: Single blood test from U Calgary could offer rapid breast cancer diagnosis

Friday, 15 March, 2019

Hope the two year clinical study will prove to be successful, time will tell. Good luck and best wishes to Dr. Kristina (Tina) Rinker and her Early Cancer Detection Initiative team!  #fuckCancer

2019 March 14th, CBC News, “Calgary-made blood test aims to improve breast cancer detection – Clinical study now underway at University of Calgary on test that could reduce wait times, patient stress

//The clinical study, which began in May 2018, will involve more than 800 women from Calgary and Edmonton, and roughly 600 women in Manchester, U.K.

Participants are given a simple blood test along with their regular mammogram.

“The earlier you can identify the breast cancer at a point that it’s treatable, the better the outcomes,” said Kristina Rinker, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Calgary.

According to Rinker, a computer algorithm allows scientists to identify a molecular marker for active breast cancer in the blood at an early stage. She says 800 samples — already collected — show the test has an accuracy rate of about 90 per cent.

“Finding it early, finding it at stage one, getting the treatment as fast as possible, that’s going to save lives,” she said.

Rinker hopes the blood test will eventually be used along with mammography to help identify cancer in women who have dense breast tissue — which makes cancer more difficult to detect — or those who have inconclusive mammogram results.//

Further reading, U of Calgary, 14 March, 2019 “Single blood test could offer rapid breast cancer diagnosis – Two-year clinical program seeking participants for study” which has a link to the ‘Identification of Breast Cancer from a Blood Sample (IDBC)’ study for “Women interested in participating in the IDBC clinical program can find more information” which has additional links for people to read through the IDBC Consent Form, IDBC Questionnaire or IDBC Brochure.

P.S. Here is a UC link to Dr. Rinker’s peer-reviewed article. and her profile at the Creative Destruction Lab.


Queen’s University PhD student Caitlin Miron makes groundbreaking discovery that may prevent spread of cancer (with brief technical details)

Tuesday, 21 November, 2017
20171121 CTV News interview of Caitlin Miron

Caitlin Miron, a PhD student in the chemistry department at Queen’s University, interviewed on CTV News. Image credit: CTV News, image composite from screen captures.

Congrats to Ms. Caitlin Miron, Ph.D. Candidate, Queen’s University for making a groundbreaking discovery that may have the potential to prevent cancer cells from spreading. Have a watch and read of the CTV news report, “(with video) PhD student makes groundbreaking discovery that may prevent spread of cancer“. According to Miron’s interview with CTV news, “85% of cancers” may benefit from this discovery and while it is too early to talk about the time frame of a commercially available drug, about 5-8 years was mentioned.

Here is an excerpt (with emphasis and links added) from the CTV report,

Studying at the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology in Bordeaux, France, Miron was able to use advanced screening technology to examine a number of compounds from the Petitjean lab at Queen’s University. During her internship, she was able to discover one compound that binds well to four-stranded DNA structure, or guanine quadruplex [G4], which has been linked to the development of cancer and other diseases.

She explained her discovery by comparing a single-stranded DNA to a necklace with beads that move along it until they hit a knot. The beads are the cell machinery that move along the necklace processing the DNA, she said.

“You can go in and untangle that knot, but in this case someone has gone in there first and they’ve used superglue to hold it together,” Miron said. “What we’ve discovered in that case is that glue.”

By binding the newly discovered compound or “superglue” to the quadruplex to secure the “knot” in the chain, scientists may be able to prevent the cell machinery from reaching a particular section of DNA to process it, which would, in turn, prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, Miron said.

Scientists have been researching quadruplex binders as a possible treatment for cancer for approximately 20 to 30 years, the PhD student explained. However, many of the known binders haven’t yielded results as promising as the one Miron has identified.

“It’s really exciting. It’s exciting to be on the forefront of this field,” she said. “There are other quadruplex binders out there, but what we’re seeing is that ours is very high-performing.”

P.S. Here are some additional references.

Ref 1: Miron is scheduled to have an upcoming Queen’s University Grad Chat “November 28th, 2017 – Caitlin Miron (Chemistry)” that I’m very much looking forward to listen to.

Ref 2: Here is an excerpt from Queen’s University 2017, November 21st, “Caitlin Miron – Recipient of the 2017 Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation (PhD)“, (emphasis and links added)

Caitlin Miron is the recipient of the 2017 Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation. This award is given to a PhD student who has made a significant achievement in research and development innovation during Mitacs-funded research. Last year, Caitlin received a Mitacs Globalink Research Award which funded a collaboration with Dr. Jean-Louis Mergny at the Institut Européen de Chimie et Biologue in Bordeaux, France. This collaboration was the second of two with Dr. Jean-Louis Mergny, and collectively, these collaborations have not only propelled Caitlin’s PhD thesis forward but also merited the receipt of the Mitacs Outstanding Innovation award. […]

 Caitlin’s doctoral dissertation is titled: Dynamic recognition of unusual nucleic acid architectures by cation-responsive switches and other metallo-organic platforms. In sum, DNA has been found to adopt unusual architectures. One type of architecture, called a guanine quadruplex, has been shown to form in the promoter regions of oncogenes (cancer genes), and is implicated in cancer. Caitlin’s research involves finding molecules that stabilize quadruplexes, thereby blocking the expression of these oncogenes, in the hopes that these molecules can be used as anticancer therapeutic agents, either alone or in combination with other treatments. In her first internship in Dr. Mergny’s lab, Caitlin tested a library of potential binders originating from the Petitjean lab and identified a compound that shows some of the best stabilization of quadruplexes that has been seen over the past 30 years. During her second internship (funded by the Mitacs Globalink program), Caitlin explored the effects that small modifications of the lead compound’s structure might have on guanine quadruplex recognition. By taking these compounds from expert to expert, she was able to identify suitable biophysical techniques that she has since brought back to her lab at Queen’s to further her research. Since then, preliminary results suggest that these compounds inhibit cell growth in several human cancer cell lines, and earlier this month, a patent was filed on the novel compounds Caitlin first investigated in France. These results serve as but a case example of rewards made possible by the financial support of funding agencies such as Mitacs.

When I asked Caitlin what skills have helped her during her PhD, she listed good communication, time management and perseverance. “Research doesn’t always go smoothly, so you need to be able to sit back and figure out how to fix things.” Caitlin also recommends ensuring you select a supervisor that will support you throughout the process of graduate school, and pursing opportunities that meet your needs – for example, Caitlin didn’t focus on maximizing her opportunity to teach in the undergraduate course setting during her PhD because she knew she did not want to pursue an academic career. […]

As a final note, Caitlin recommends getting into labs with big names in their respective fields, if possible. Dr. Mergny is one of the top researchers in Caitlin’s field. For Caitlin, conducting research in Dr. Mergny’s lab and having access to experts has enabled her to develop a better understanding of her work and accelerate her research.

After completing her PhD, Caitlin is looking to complete an industrial post-doctoral research position in order to bridge her experience between academia and industry. Caitlin’s long-term goal is to pursue an industrial research career, one slanted towards health applications or perhaps the development of pharmaceuticals. Given Caitlin’s positive attitude and astounding success thus far, I have no doubt she will continue to make great contributions to health-care oriented research in the future.

Ref 3: From Dr. Jean-Louis Mergny’s IECB “Unusual nucleic acid structures” team page,

G-quadruplexes: Friends or foes?
Comparison of sequencing data with theoretical sequence distributions suggests that there is a selection against G-quadruplex prone sequences in the genome, probably as they pose real problems during replication or transcription and generate genomic instability (see below). Nevertheless, “G4-hot spots” have been found in certain regions of the genome: in telomeres, in repetitive sequences such as mini and microsatellite DNAs, in promoter regions, and in first exons of mRNAs. There might be a specific positive role for these sequences that compensates for the general selection against G4 forming sequences. Our goals are to understand the factors that modulate these effects. A number of proteins that interact with these unusual structures have been identified, including DNA binding proteins, helicases, and nucleases. We are currently developing a fluorescent-based assay to follow the activity of helicases in real time (Mendoza, Nucleic Acids Res. 2015).

G-quadruplex ligands: Treats or tricks?
One may achieve structure-specific rather than sequence-specific recognition of DNA. Because of their particular geometric configuration and electrostatic potential, G-quadruplexes may indeed specifically accommodate small artificial ligands, such as planar molecules, and an impressive number of candidates have been evaluated. Together with chemists we successfully identified a variety of G4 ligands and we wish to improve and functionalize these compounds, analyse their biological effects, and ultimately find new classes of anti-proliferative agents with anticancer properties.

Ref 4: Miron’s 2016 Mitacs project, “Building on an Innovative Platform: Tuning Guanine Quadruplex Recognition for Anticancer Applications


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