Brief News: African Swine Fever Vaccine, Low Dose Radiation, and Bees as ‘Fish’ | Science

AGRICULTURE

The vaccine targets African swine fever

Vietnam’s agriculture ministry last week granted limited authorization to a vaccine hailed as an important tool for controlling one of the most serious animal diseases, African swine fever (ASF). In recent years, the disease has hit pig farms hard in several Asian and European countries. The National Veterinary Joint Stock Company of Vietnam developed the vaccine based on a viral strain of ASF designed by the United States Agricultural Research Service to not have a gene linked to virulence. A small experiment on 20 animals, reported in September 2021, found strong evidence of protection; the company says an unpublished follow-up study in 131 pigs showed 99% of those who received full doses survived PSA infections. Based on these findings, the ministry approved commercial use of the vaccine in up to 600,000 pigs. It will evaluate the results before deciding whether to allow use at national level. Endemic to Africa, ASF spread across much of Europe in the 2000s and Asia in 2018, requiring culling and creating shortages of pork, a major source of protein across the region.

COVID-19

The FDA panel supports the Novavax vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccine Advisory Committee this week almost unanimously recommended that the agency authorize a Novavax protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, which would be the first of its kind. available for US adults. Panel members stated that the benefits of the vaccine, consisting of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein combined with an immunostimulating substance, outweighed the risks when administered in two doses 3 weeks apart from those of age or older. at 18 years. The FDA does not have to follow the recommendations of its advisors, but it usually does. In a study of 30,000 people in the United States and Mexico, the vaccine was 90.4% effective in preventing symptomatic infection with early SARS-CoV-2 strains. The approval came just days after the FDA released data documenting five cases of myocarditis or pericarditis – inflammation of the heart tissue – in volunteers, most of them young men, soon after receiving the vaccine in clinical trials in the United States and the United Kingdom. Novavax hopes its product will appeal to US recipients skeptical of vaccines using messenger RNA and booster seekers who prefer its proven method, which has led to licensed vaccines for other diseases, such as shingles.

62%

Portion of 1640 clinical trials classified as “bad”, defined as those at high risk of bias due to selective reporting of results and other defects. The bad guys have wasted up to £ 8 billion. (Trials)

BIOMEDICINE

Studies on low-dose radiation are urgently needed

The U.S. government is expected to spend $ 100 million annually for at least 15 years studying the health effects of low-dose radiation, a high-profile review panel concluded last week. The public and workers are regularly exposed to low-dose radiation (less than 100 milligray, a measure of absorbed dose) from sources such as medical scans, air travel, and mining, which contribute to cancer and possibly heart disease and other health problems. health. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE) concluded a long-standing program to study low-dose radiation in 2016 so it can focus on other priorities. But in 2018, Congress ordered its relaunch and later asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for a new project. The research is important and should resume, although not entirely under DOE sponsorship, the academies report says, noting the conflicts of interest associated with its nuclear weapons facilities. The report recommends epidemiological and biological studies from the National Institutes of Health; The DOE should oversee the computational work and modeling. Congress must now decide whether to appropriate the funding.

STORAGE

Bees are protected as “fish”

Four species of bumblebees qualify for protection under California’s Endangered Species Act because they fit a loophole in the state’s definition of “fish,” an appeals court ruled last week. Until now, state law did not protect insect species. But a Sacramento-based state court of appeals pointed to the California Fish and Game Code, which includes any “mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate (or) amphibian” in the definition of fish. That wording covers any terrestrial invertebrate, such as a hornet, the court wrote. The ruling was celebrated by conservation organizations and complained by groups of farmers, who argued that extending protection to bumblebees would burden agricultural operations. Bee populations have declined in the United States and elsewhere, posing threats to agricultural crops and other plants that depend on pollinators for healthy development.

SEARCH SECURITY

NIH beneficiaries are lax on foreign details

A U.S. government watchdog found that many institutions that receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) do not follow federal rules on reporting foreign sources of support, educating scientists about those rules, and investigating. on possible conflicts of interest. A June 22 report from the NIH Main Department Inspector General found, for example, that 36% of the more than 600 institutions surveyed at the end of 2020 do not require faculty members to disclose participation in the talent recruitment program. another country and 37% do not ‘fail to distinguish between domestic and foreign funding. Since 2018, the NIH has been particularly vigilant in tracing beneficiaries’ links to China as part of a government-wide campaign to prevent that country from stealing US-funded research. The report calls on the NIH to enforce existing rules, which institutions must obey as a condition for funding.

Focused

Last week the Egyptian ministry of antiquities unveiled a new collection of artifacts from its late period (from 664 BC to about 332 BC) found inside the Saqqara necropolis near Cairo. New findings from the previously excavated cemetery include 150 bronze statues of ancient Egyptian gods and 250 wooden sarcophagi.MAHMOUD EL-KHAWAS / PICTURE ALLIANCE / GETTY IMAGES
EVOLUTION

Rice led to the domestication of chicken

People all over the world know that chicken and rice are a winning culinary combination. But now, scientists say, without rice, there would be no chickens. It was only when humans began clearing the forest and sowing rice seeds within the red jungle bird range in Southeast Asia that some of these wild pheasants came down from the trees to feed on the seeds and evolved. in more docile chickens, according to research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This domestication of jungle birds has occurred much more recently than other studies have estimated, according to comprehensive analysis of bones and dates at more than 600 sites, which found that some bones believed to be chickens belonged to other animals. The authors claim that the oldest chickens only appeared 3250 to 3650 years ago at a rice-growing site in present-day central Thailand. Hence, chickens spread throughout Asia with rice and millet farming.

ENVIRONMENT

PCB reduction becomes poor quality

Most countries are not on track to safely dispose of their stocks of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a class of hazardous chemicals used for insulation equipment and other purposes, by the 2028 deadline of an international treaty, says a report. Officials in 42% of the nations that signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants since its debut in 2001 have not inventoried or tracked their country’s stocks of electrical transformers and other PCB-contaminated products, according to the analysis published last year. week in Environmental sciences and technologies. Many countries, including the United States, banned PCBs, which are neurotoxins, in the 1970s. But the PCB-laden products manufactured remain in use. According to the study, the United States, which was the largest producer and user of PCBs in the world, has never ratified the treaty and has reduced stocks of chemicals by only 3% since 2006.

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