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Daily Archives: March 6, 2022

Charts: Food Prices at Record High

Source : Bloomberg

Humour: News in Cartoons

Infographic: A Comparison of NATO and Russia’s Military Strength

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Twitter

Canadians Advised to Regularly Conduct Personal Risk Assessments As COVID Restrictions Are Lifted

Nick Boisvert wrote . . . . . . . . .

The improving state of the COVID-19 pandemic means Canadian jurisdictions can now ease public health restrictions further, federal officials said Friday.

Trends of severe illness are declining in most areas of the country, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported during its weekly pandemic news conference.

Nationally, the rate of patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals has dropped by 15 per cent compared to last week.

“We need to turn our focus on easing societal disruption,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

That message comes as provinces across the country are rapidly lifting restrictions and vaccine mandates in a variety of settings.

Alberta and Saskatchewan have moved most aggressively to scrap COVID-19 measures, including requirements for masks and vaccine passports in virtually all situations.

Ontario followed on March 1 by lifting its vaccine passport system and capacity limits in all indoor settings. Quebec is slated to introduce similar changes later this month.

While Tam noted that a return to normal life is prudent given the recession of the Omicron wave, she also advised Canadians to assume more personal responsibility as they go about life in a society with relatively few restrictions in place.

“Regaining in-person social and economic activities while the pandemic is still ongoing and the virus is not going away means we must use all that we have learned to do this safely and make it last,” she said.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canadians will have to assume more personal responsibility as restrictions are relaxed or removed. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Compared to several provinces, the federal government has been slower to lift restrictions and vaccine mandates.

An unvaccinated person in Alberta, for example, is now allowed to go to any indoor setting with no capacity limit and no mask requirement — but that same person would not be permitted to board a plane.

Tam said federal agencies in charge of those rules, including Transport Canada, are evaluating the epidemiological situation and “will be making any policy adjustments as needed in the coming days and weeks.”

Officials call for ‘individual risk assessments’

Public health officials say Canadians should routinely perform what they call “individual risk assessments” as restrictions are lifted.

“Regularly checking in on the local epidemiology where you are or where you are going is important for keeping up on recommendations,” Tam said.

Those assessments should become “as important and routine as checking the weather,” she added.

Levels of community spread, vaccine rates and a person’s age and health are among the factors to be considered when making decisions, officials said.

Even as mask requirements are lifted in some provinces, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said he plans to keep wearing a mask as an added layer of protection against infection.

“For a while, I will keep wearing a mask when I leave the house,” Njoo said in French during the news conference, noting that he’s over 50 and therefore faces a slightly elevated risk.

Tam and Njoo said similar assessments should be conducted ahead of any travel plans for March break.

The doctors urged families to evaluate the state of the pandemic and the public health rules at their planned destination, and to adjust their plans accordingly. Njoo did not issue any blanket advice against international travel.

“For me, personally, it’s a question of doing a personal risk assessment,” he said.

Source : CBC

Study: mRNA Vaccines Alter Human Liver DNA In Vitro

Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine causes intracellular reverse transcription of BNT162b2 mRNA into human DNA in vitro, renewing concerns that vaccines may introduce spike protein into the nuclei of cells.

The findings emerged Friday in a peer-reviewed article entitled “Intracellular Reverse Transcription of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 In Vitro in Human Liver Cell Line” in the Current Issues in Molecular Biology Journal, an imprint of MDPI, the largest open-access publisher in the world and the fifth-largest publisher overall in terms of journal paper output.

Researchers Warn: Pfizer Vaccine May Affect Integrity of Genomic DNA

“Our study shows that BNT162b2 can be reverse transcribed to DNA in liver cell line Huh7, and this may give rise to the concern if BNT162b2-derived DNA may be integrated into the host genome and affect the integrity of genomic DNA, which may potentially mediate genotoxic side effects,” the authors warn.

The study, authored by a team of Swedish researchers at Lund University, concluded that Pfizer’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine entered the human liver cell line Huh7 in vitro and BNT162b2 mRNA was subsequently transcribed intracellularly into DNA within six hours of exposure.

An “Immortal” Human Cell Line

The Huh7 cell line is a permanent line of liver cells derived from male hepatoma tissue that was surgically removed from a 57-year-old Japanese man in 1982. For the next 40 years, Huh7 and its derivatives were used in thousands of laboratories across the planet as a convenient experimental substitute for primary hepatocytes.

Hepatocytes, the major parenchymal cells in the liver, play pivotal roles in metabolism, detoxification, and protein synthesis. Hepatocytes also activate innate immunity against invading microorganisms by secreting innate immunity proteins.

In Vitro Vs. In Vivo Caveats

Researchers who conduct in vitro studies commonly remind that results that emerge from laboratories and test tubes often differ from results which are derived in living, fully intact organisms. And the Huh7, itself, has limitations that could introduce errors or anomalies into laboratory results.

Still, the study conducted by researchers at one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious research institutions raises serious questions about Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines’ impact on human DNA, which have yet to be subjected to the typical years-long (or decades-long) battery of long-term safety monitoring protocols.

Changes in Gene Expression of LINE-1

The study authors exposed Huh7 cells to Pfizer’s BNT162b2 mRNA and then performed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction on RNA extracted from the cells. The research team discovered high levels of BNT162b2 in Huh7 cells and changes in gene expression of long interspersed nuclear element-1, or LINE-1, which is an endogenous reverse transcriptase.

BNT162b2 mRNA Reverse Transcribed Into DNA Within Six Hours Of Exposure

The authors conclude that BNT162b2 transfects into human liver cell line huh7 in vitro, altering LINE-1 expression and distribution. The authors also find that “BNT162b2 mRNA is reverse transcribed intracellularly into DNA in as fast as six hours upon BNT162b2 exposure.”

BNT162b2 is a lipid nanoparticle (LNP)–encapsulated, nucleoside-modified RNA vaccine (modRNA) which resembles gene therapy platforms. Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine encodes the full-length of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. That spike protein is modified by two proline mutations to ensure antigenically optimal pre-fusion conformation, mimicking the intact virus to elicit virus-neutralizing antibodies.

A recent study showed that SARS-CoV-2 RNAs can be reverse-transcribed and integrated into the genome of human cells, which the authors said led them to investigate whether spike transfected by mRNA vaccines might have comparable effects.

CDC Says mRNA Vaccines Does Not Enter Nuclei or Interact With DNA

mRNA vaccines were not designed to invade human cells’ nuclei. In fact, the United States Centers for Disease Control claimed in December that “COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.”

“The genetic material delivered by mRNA vaccines never enters the nucleus of your cells, which is where your DNA is kept,” the government agency website said. “Viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver genetic material to the cell nucleus to allow our cells to build protection against COVID-19. However, the vector virus does not have the machinery needed to integrate its genetic material into our DNA, so it cannot alter our DNA.”

The Nucleus is the “Brain” of Human Cells, Site of DNA Replication

Some biologists refer to the nucleus, metaphorically, as the “brain” of the cell. The nucleus is the most prominent of cells’ organelles and contain genetic information in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and is the site of DNA replication. The nucleus is also the site for the synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA) which is the template for synthesis of other cell proteins and for protein factories of the cell called ribosomes.

Transfection of spike protein into the nucleus opens the possibility of DNA modification, the authors wrote.

mRNA Vaccines Effect on “Genomic Integrity” Should Be Studied

“At this stage, we do not know if DNA reverse transcribed from BNT162b2 is integrated into the cell genome,” the authors wrote. “Further studies are needed to demonstrate the effect of BNT162b2 on genomic integrity, including whole genome sequencing of cells exposed to BNT162b2, as well as tissues from human subjects who received BNT162b2 vaccination.”

Source: Trial Site News

Read the full article at MDPI . . . . .

Read also at Life Site

Bayer executive: mRNA shots are ‘gene therapy’ marketed as ‘vaccines’ to gain public trust . . . . .

Single Test for Over 50 Genetic Diseases Will Cut Diagnosis from Decades to Days

A new DNA test, developed by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney and collaborators from Australia, UK and Israel, has been shown to identify a range of hard-to-diagnose neurological and neuromuscular genetic diseases quicker and more-accurately than existing tests.

‘We correctly diagnosed all patients with conditions that were already known, including Huntington’s disease, fragile X syndrome, hereditary cerebellar ataxias, myotonic dystrophies, myoclonic epilepsies, motor neuron disease and more,’ says Dr Ira Deveson, Head of Genomics Technologies at the Garvan Institute and senior author of the study.

The diseases covered by the test belong to a class of over 50 diseases caused by unusually-long repetitive DNA sequences in a person’s genes – known as ‘Short Tandem Repeat (STR) expansion disorders’.

‘They are often difficult to diagnose due to the complex symptoms that patients present with, the challenging nature of these repetitive sequences, and limitations of existing genetic testing methods,’ says Dr Deveson.

The study, published in Science Advances, shows that the test is accurate, and allows the team to begin validations to make the test available in pathology services around the world.

A patient who participated in the study, John, first realised something wrong when he experienced unusual problems balancing during a ski lesson.

‘It was very worrying having symptoms that, over the years, increased in severity; from being active and mobile to not being able to walk without support. I had test after test for over ten years and absolutely no answers as to what was wrong,’ says John, who was eventually diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called CANVAS, which affects the brain.

‘It was reassuring to finally confirm my diagnosis genetically, and it’s exciting to know that, in the near future, others with these types of conditions will be able to get a diagnosis quicker than I did,’ he says.

‘For patients like John, the new test will be a game-changer, helping to end what can often be a taxing diagnostic odyssey,’ says Dr Kishore Kumar, a co-author of the study and neurologist at Concord Hospital and the University of Sydney, and Visiting Scientist at Garvan.

Repeat expansion disorders can be passed on through families, can be life threatening and generally involve muscle and nerve damage, as well as other complications throughout the body.

Quicker, more-accurate diagnosis for patients avoids ‘diagnostic odyssey’

Current genetic testing for expansion disorders can be ‘hit and miss’, says Dr Kumar. ‘When patients present with symptoms, it can be difficult to tell which of these 50-plus genetic expansions they might have, so their doctor must decide which genes to test for based on the person’s symptoms and family history. If that test comes back negative, the patient is left without answers. This testing can go on for years without finding the genes implicated in their disease. We call this the ‘diagnostic odyssey’, and it can be quite stressful for patients and their families,’ he says.

‘This new test will completely revolutionise how we diagnose these diseases, since we can now test for all the disorders at once with a single DNA test and give a clear genetic diagnosis, helping patients avoid years of unnecessary muscle or nerve biopsies for diseases they don’t have, or risky treatments that suppress their immune system,’ says Dr Kumar.

Although repeat expansion disorders cannot be cured, a quicker diagnosis can help doctors identify and treat disease complications earlier, such as heart issues associated with Friedreich’s ataxia.

Scanning for known and novel diseases

Using a single DNA sample, usually extracted from blood, the test works by scanning a patient’s genome using a technology called Nanopore sequencing.

‘We’ve programmed the Nanopore device to hone in on the roughly 40 genes known to be involved in these disorders and to read through the long, repeated DNA sequences that cause disease,’ he says. ‘By unravelling the two strands of DNA and reading the repeated letter sequences (combinations of A, T, G or C), we can scan for abnormally long repeats within the patient’s genes, which are the hallmarks of disease.’

‘In the one test, we can search for every known disease-causing repeat expansion sequence, and potentially discover novel sequences likely to be involved in diseases that have not yet been described,’ says Dr Deveson.

Upscaling to wider use in the next five years

The Nanopore technology used in the test is smaller and cheaper than standard tests, which the team hopes will smooth its uptake into pathology labs. ‘With Nanopore, the gene sequencing device has been reduced from the size of a fridge to the size of a stapler, and costs around $1000, compared with hundreds of thousands needed for mainstream DNA sequencing technologies’ says Dr Deveson.

The team expects to see their new technology used in diagnostic practice within the next two to five years. One of the key steps towards that goal is to gain appropriate clinical accreditation for the method.

Once accredited, the test will also transform research into genetic diseases, says Dr Gina Ravenscroft, a co-author of the study and a researcher working on rare disease genetics at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

‘Adult-onset genetic disorders haven’t received as much research attention as those that appear in early life,’ she says. ‘By finding more people with these rare adult-onset diseases, and those who may be pre-symptomatic, we’ll be able to learn more about a whole range of rare diseases through cohort studies, which would otherwise be hard to do.’

Source: Garvan Institute