Not surprisingly, COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments dominated headlines in 2021. But in addition to these breakthroughs, pharmaceutical and biotech companies continued to work on new technologies to treat other diseases. A cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, an independent news outlet of the American Chemical Society, highlights the year in pharma for COVID-19 and beyond.
Two years into the pandemic, the drug industry has affirmed its strength in tackling public health crises, writes Associate Editor Ryan Cross. COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech and were rolled out across the U.S. The success of the latter two vaccines, which are based on messenger RNA (mRNA), spurred excitement and investment in other mRNA technologies, such as CRISPR gene-editing systems and protein replacement therapies. Although vaccines remain the first line of defense against SARS-CoV-2, oral antivirals could be a powerful tool to end the pandemic, researchers say. Two of the most promising antiviral pills, Merck’s molnupiravir and Pfizer’s PF-0732133, decreased hospitalization and death rates in clinical trials of unvaccinated people who had risk factors for severe COVID-19.
In other developments this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a controversial drug, Biogen’s Aduhelm, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the antibody medication reduced amyloid-β plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients by more than half in two clinical trials, it slowed cognitive decline by a modest amount in only one of the trials. The controversy and negative press have contributed to little demand for Aduhelm from patients, neurologists report. Other therapies that showed promise in 2021 include psychedelic drugs for mental illness, stem cell therapies for diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and base-editing treatments for sickle cell disease.
The article, “Another Year of Pharma,” is freely available here.
Just sticking to Covid for now, all the coronaviruses and all their variants have different protein spikes, with Delta and Omicron having spikes that are more efficient at getting around the vaccines. But the real problem is in the virus itself, not its protein shell, and why the most dangerous (MERS, SARS, and Covid-19) are so infectious. My independent research has found multiple one-in-a-million nucleotide sequence matches between all the coronaviruses and the human genome. Those sequences are the same as some of the loops of human tRNA. Using those loops and their amino acid code matches, viruses may be able to fool the nucleus membrane in cells to allow the virus to enter and associate with the human DNA, creating more opportunities for further infection. Our immune system may be compromised and may no longer be able to stop the virus and other diseases from attacking organs throughout the body. Vaccines that attack the virus protein shells while ignoring their contents are doomed to failure from the Darwin effect, but recognizing these loops suggests a possible approach to successful coronavirus vaccines. Only the infection process is considered in my work, not the innate virulence of the virus. For more info, check out this YouTube, Coronavirus – Using Your DNA Against You. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dOIzD6ch8s