At Chernobyl, nuclear reactions are smoldering again

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Immunofluorescent light micrograph of a nerve cell from the striatum of the brain

The mutant form of the huntingtin protein that causes Huntington’s disease accumulates in nerve cells.Credit: Frederic Sadou, ISM / Science Photo Library

Two pharmaceutical companies have stopped clinical trials of Huntington’s disease (HD) gene therapiesfollowing unsatisfactory drug performance. The researchers hoped that treatment – known as antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) – would alter the play of HD, an incurable genetic condition that affects cognition, behavior, and movement. But the mutual announcements between Roche and Wave Life Sciences dealt a severe blow to those affected. “It’s the saddest possible outcome,” says neurologist Claudia Testa.

Nature 6 min reading

This indicates a rising level of neutrons from an inaccessible room at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant fission reactions are smoldering again at the site of the 1986 disaster. “It’s like coals in a grill pit,” says nuclear materials chemist Neil Hyatt. The room buried under the concrete contains part of the solidified lava, which contains a large part of the reactor’s uranium fuel. The mechanism that governs the reaction, how it could develop and how to suppress it, are all open questions.

Science 6 min reading

COVID-19 coronavirus update

As more people are vaccinated, scientists and health professionals are considering how companies can live with the virus and the level of risk they are willing to take. In some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, the response to potential threats is quick and tough – but it cannot be sustained indefinitely. “We have to accept that people get infected, go to the hospital and die of COVID-19 in the future,” said James McCaw, an epidemiologist with infectious diseases, who advises the Australian government.

Nature 6 min reading

Shocked the US government has announced support for the waiver of patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines. The measure aims to boost supplies so that people around the world can get pictures. “This represents a major shift in US policy in the manner of public health,” said global health researcher Matthew Kavanagh. However, relinquishing patents would only be the first step in increasing the supply of vaccines. “It’s 1-2-3,” explains Rachel Cohen, the American director of the nonprofit Initiative for Drugs and Neglected Diseases. “First we have to remove patent barriers, second we have to pass on knowledge about how to make them, and the third step is huge investments in production capacity.”

Nature 4 min reading

Some researchers are pushing back for calls to share SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences in fully open databases. Critics say they are getting rid of all data sharing restrictions it deprives contributors of credit and undermines their efforts – especially for those in countries with limited resources. Concerns about the use of unfair data are compounded by the fact that only 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccines went to low-income countries. “Imagine Africans working so hard to contribute to a database that is used to make or update vaccines, and then we don’t have access to them,” said Christian Happi, a microbiologist in Nigeria. “It’s very demoralizing.”

Nature 6 min reading

Read more: Researchers are calling for fully open sharing of coronavirus genome data (Nature | 6 min reading)

Remarkable citation

Scientists’ warnings in India were ignored because the arguments did not match the government’s story that the pandemic was under control, according to science journalist TV Padma. (Nature 5 minutes of reading)

Properties and opinion

Devastating sea waves are destroying ecosystems, bleaching corals and endangering key fisheries. A gloomy example was called The Blob: an area of ​​warm, low-nutrient water in the Pacific Northwest that lasted three years and decimated populations of plankton, fish and seabirds. Scientists are pushing the science of oceanic predictions forwardand seek the development of tools to help fisheries policy makers and policy makers respond to these painful symptoms of a warming world.

Nature 10 min reading

Hot water.  A table showing how sea waves have lengthened over the last 40 years and more often.

Source: Ref. 7

Four decades after the AIDS epidemic began, the results of a small clinical trial suggest some progress towards a vaccine that protects against HIV. Researchers announced this at the February AIDS conference 35 out of 36 people who received a new HIV vaccine produced antibodies that could help their immune system repel the infection. However, the findings have not yet been reviewed and experts warn that the vaccine is still a long way off. HIV has proven to be an elusive enemy for immunization due to its rapid rate of mutation – but lack of funding is also a major problem. “If the company really appreciated the HIV vaccine, we would conduct several efficacy studies in parallel, as was the case with COVID,” says virologist José Esparza. “Dear, yes.” But the cost of the HIV epidemic was enormous. “

National Geographic | 11 min reading

Picture of the week

Quote of the day

Entomologist Phillip Hoenle explains the name of the newly described ant species Strumigenys ayersthey, which uses the suffix “they” instead of the Latin -i for men or -ae for women. The ant was named Hoenle, ecologist Douglas Booher and REM singer Michael Stipe in honor of artist and activist Jeremy Ayers. (Yale News blog | 5 minutes of reading)

Link: ZooKeys preprint

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