Connect with us

News

ONEUS unveil ‘coming soon’ teaser titled ‘New Moon’

Published

on

Rookie boy group ONEUS is lastly making their first comeback of 2020!

On March 10, ONEUS unveiled a shock “coming quickly” shifting teaser with the hashtags #Come_back and #NewMoon. Additionally based on the teaser, ONEUS shall be releasing their 1st single album quickly. 

This can mark ONEUS’s first comeback in roughly 6 months, since ‘Fly With Us‘ and “LIT” final September. Keep tuned for extra updates!

Continue Reading

News

Beamlines cast precious light on SARS-CoV-2, emerging variants and vaccines that will stop them

Published

on

Newswise — Ultrabright light from the Advanced Photon Source continues to illuminate mysteries around coronaviruses and shape the vaccines and therapeutics protecting us against variants of concern.

It’s been nearly two years since the first outbreaks of COVID-19. In that time, facilities such as the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, have proved integral to the fight against the disease.

Building on more than a decade of research into similar viruses, scientists using the ultrabright X-rays of the APS have been instrumental in the development of vaccines and treatments against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Now research has pivoted to the variants of the virus, and determining whether the approved vaccines will be effective against them.

“Time is of the essence in combating this virus. We are enormously appreciative of APS remaining open throughout the pandemic for COVID-related experiments.”  — Ian Wilson, Scripps Research.

Nearly all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, attempt to mutate in wily efforts to “escape” eradication. Some of these variants disappear as quickly as they emerge. Others linger and are classified as variants of concern (VOCs).

VOCs become highly problematic when established human means of eradicating them fail to have the desired effect. A vaccinated person’s immune system knows to produce virus-fighting antibodies when it sees certain molecular characteristics. However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s spike protein molecule — which the APS helped researchers identify as the target site of current vaccines — has been able to mutate ever so slightly and still attach itself to human cells more readily or tightly. Depending on the degree of mutation, antibodies can then fail to recognize the mutated viruses.

Such variants and mutations of SARS-CoV-2 were always expected, and APS beamlines were used from an early date to study them.

Ian Wilson, a scientist at the Scripps Research Institute, leads a laboratory whose APS-informed work has advanced understanding of dominant and emerging variants of the virus. The Wilson lab, spearheaded by postdoctoral fellows Meng Yuan and Nicholas Wu (now an assistant professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), first looked at SARS-CoV-2 at the APS in February 2020, shortly after its genome was released.

They specifically narrowed their lens on the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein. The RBD is a part of the virus that latches onto and invades cells to increase infection. This focus helped the Wilson lab determine crystal structures of many human antibodies combined with the RBD and see exactly how antibodies target and neutralize the virus.

Ten months later, when it was reported that SARS-CoV-2 was infecting farmed mink in Denmark and that the mutated viruses were transmissible to humans, the Wilson lab built on this initial research to study the emerging variants. They initially identified vulnerable sites on the virus surface that could be targeted by neutralizing antibodies. They also identified the more conserved sites — regions on the viral surface that are often less mutated — which, when targeted by antibodies, are effective at neutralizing the virus’s emerging variants.

Conserved sites of the viral surface, it turns out, are critical to study because while the virus may relentlessly change, certain regions of its spike protein cannot accommodate mutations, as they would lose essential viral function and fitness. By changing too much, the virus wouldn’t be itself anymore. Antibodies target these sites and more changeable sites with different degrees of success.

“Only a small portion of antibodies isolated from COVID-19 patients can cross-react with related SARS-like viruses,” explained Yuan of results published in Cell Host & Microbe. “Some can neutralize these different viruses and are termed cross-neutralizing. Our study was able to reveal conserved regions on these different viruses that can be targeted by cross-neutralizing antibodies.”

In another study of the virus’s escape mechanism published in Science, the Wilson lab tested a panel of 17 neutralizing antibodies isolated from COVID-19 patients, or from mice designed to carry human cells or human genetic and physiological properties. In these tests, two mutations of the virus in the RBD were particularly able to evade a number of neutralizing antibodies. However, when more conserved sites were tested, the variants fared less well; the antibodies were still able to target the variants.

Analysis of the antibodies that bind to these conserved regions using beamline data helps researchers identify ways to resist variants more effectively and guide next-generation vaccine and treatment design.

Jonathan Abraham, an assistant professor of microbiology at Harvard University, is another researcher who used the APS to examine antibody response to SARS-CoV-2. He was buried in a different project using data collected at the APS when he attended a clinical presentation about a local patient infected with SARS-CoV-2.

“[The patient] had a five-month-long infection and was receiving therapy to treat an autoimmune condition,” explained Abraham. “One of our colleagues sequenced the virus, and I remember seeing the SARS-CoV-2 RBD sequences and having an “aha!” moment.”

As detailed in Cell, Abraham studied viral sequences collected from the patient at various times during infection — from up to 152 days after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. He found that the immunocompromised patient’s virus over time evolved to acquire RBD mutations that could fool antibodies into no longer recognizing it.

When X-ray crystal structures of the antibodies were examined at the APS, it became clear that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can build a mature resistance to antibodies — and scientists can see exactly where it did so at a molecular level.

“We were compelled to move forward with experiments to better understand the significance of these mutations to receptor and neutralizing antibody binding,” said Abraham. “Many of the RBD mutations we were studying because they arose in this individual later emerged as part of variants of concern.”

Wilson and Abraham give credit to those at Argonne who worked hard to make APS beamlines available for SARS-CoV-2 research. Their dedication, professionalism and fast response times were critical.

“APS staff on numerous occasions have gone above and beyond to help us secure beam time to study SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and spike protein fragments,” said Abraham. “The Argonne technicians and scientists who work on the beamlines have simply been outstanding, and they often provided training and instruction to graduate students who were leading the SARS-CoV-2 research projects in our lab.”

“Time is of the essence in combating this virus,” said Wilson. “We are enormously appreciative of APS remaining open throughout the pandemic for COVID-related experiments.”

Continue Reading

News

Donald Trump’s Social Media Venture Seeks $1 Billion Raise: Report

Published

on

Donald Trump's Social Media Venture Seeks $1 Billion Raise: Report

Trump Media and Digital World have asked investors to finalize commitments.

Former President Donald Trump’s new social media venture is seeking to raise up to $1 billion by selling shares to hedge funds and family offices at several times the valuation it commanded in a deal with a blank-check acquisition firm in October, two people familiar with the matter said.

Trump Media & Technology Group, which has yet to roll out the social media app it says it is developing, already stands to receive $293 million if its deal to list in New York through a merger with blank-check firm Digital World Acquisition Corp is completed.

The deal valued Trump Media at $875 million, including debt. Trump Media is now seeking to raise up to an additional $1 billion at a valuation of close to $3 billion, to reflect Digital World’s share rally after Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock, the sources said.

It is the clearest indication yet that Trump and the Digital World dealmakers are seeking to capitalize on the market euphoria around their venture, which has so far been fueled by its ambitious goals rather than a business that is up and running.

Digital World shares were valued at $10 each in the deal with Trump Media. Trump Media is now looking to secure a so-called private investment in public equity (PIPE) that would value Digital World shares closer to their recent price, the sources said.

The sources added that Digital World shares may be valued based on a 20% discount of their 10-day, volume-weighted average price.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Trump Media and Digital World did not respond to requests for comment. Bloomberg News reported last month that the companies were seeking to raise a PIPE without any details on its terms.

Digital World shares soared on Wednesday, as investors welcomed the news that the PIPE could dilute existing Digital World shareholders less than they expected by pricing at a level much higher than the customary $10 per share seen in most mergers with blank-check firms.

The shares, which had been trading down 6% before news of the $1 billion raise, rallied to close up 7% at $44.35 on Nasdaq, then extended gains in after-hours trade, rocketing up 31%, to $58.01.

Most PIPE transactions are inked before a deal to take a company public is rolled out, and it is far from certain that the companies will raise the entire $1 billion they are seeking following their deal announcement. Many Wall Street firms have snubbed the opportunity to invest, and many of the investors participating in the confidential road shows for the PIPE are hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, the sources said. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.

Weighing on the deal’s appeal is the reluctance of many investors to associate with Trump after he was banned from top social media platforms for encouraging his supporters to participate in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.

Some hedge funds that backed the launch of Digital World, including Saba Capital Management and Lighthouse Investment Partners, have said they sold their shares to distance themselves from the Trump deal.

The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.

Trump Media and Digital World have asked investors to finalize commitments to the PIPE by the middle of December, the sources said.

In a PIPE road show attended by one of the sources, investors were asked to commit between $10 million and $20 million. Neither Trump nor Digital World executives made an appearance, and the investor presentation was led by David Boral, the president of EF Hutton, an investment bank that advised Digital World on the deal, the source said. A Trump Media representative was also in attendance, the source added.

But Trump has been personally involved. He has been calling some investors to ask them to make a commitment to the PIPE of more than $100 million, the second of the sources said.

Investors attending the road show were shown a demo from the planned social media app, called TRUTH Social, which looked like a Twitter feed, the sources said.

Big Plans

Trump has said he is launching his own social media app to stand up against the companies that have barred him from their platforms. He had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency for a third time in 2024.

Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.

TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022, and is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Continue Reading

News

Panchkula: Admin stresses on need for vaccination as Covid spikes

Published

on

WITH Covid cases seeing a spike in numbers, the district administration as well as the health administration have stressed on the need for complete vaccination of the population. While 100 percent vaccination of target population with first dose was achieved mid-September, only 70 percent vaccination for the second wave has been recorded.

A total of 4.6 lakh people have been vaccinated with the first dose and 3.2 lakh have been vaccinated with the second dose. The CMO, Dr Mukta Kumar has stressed on the importance of getting everyone vaccinated. Speaking with The Indian Express, she said, “Vaccine is the only way lives can be saved and the only way to delay the rise of wave three in the country. While we have vaccinated 100 percent of our target population with first dose, numbers in the second dose yet stand 30 percent lower. We have not set a deadline to complete the targets within a time span but are continuously encouraging people to come forward and get their shots.” The district health department has been conducting door-to-door surveys to act as a reminder for the second dose. The district has also been making calls to all those whose second doses are due. As many as 26 vaccination centres remain active each day. More than 1.8 lakh doses of Covishield and 46,000 doses of Covaxin currently remain in stock in Panchkula.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mahavir Kaushik, also held a meeting with the officials of the health department Monday, to discuss the new variant of Covid-19 and instructed them to make all necessary arrangements in view of this. In the meeting, Kaushik has reportedly inquired from the health department officials about all necessary arrangements in the hospital like number of beds and ICU beds, availability of oxygen and Covid vaccination, etc. Kaushik has directed the health department to motivate those not yet vaccinated with the second dose of vaccine.

In view of the hike in cases, the department has increased sampling by at least 250 samples were day. While an average of 400 samples were being collected in the past month, number in the past two days has risen to above 700 per day. The number still falls short of about 1,000 samples per day, as per the Haryana government’s target given for sampling in Panchkula. Dr Mukta points out hesitation amid the population as a reason for the same. “A vaccination hesitancy has crept into the people. In an attempt to increase sampling, all PHCs and CHCs have been directed to sample all those walking in for OPDs. But we witnessed fights and a severe dip in OPD cases soon after. The residents need to be vigilant, get themselves tested. It has been months since sampling has remained low,” she says. The health department is also sending out samples at random for genome sequencing. “As per guidelines, we have to send 2-5 per cent of the total samples. We also take special care to send samples of foreign returnees for sequencing as well,” she added.

Continue Reading

Trending