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Llama antibodies could help treat coronavirus, UK study shows - The Brussels Times
Antibodies taken from llamas have been shown to neutralise the new coronavirus, and could possibly be developed as a treatment for patients with severe Covid-19, UK researchers announced on Tuesday. T
Antibodies taken from llamas have been shown to neutralise the new coronavirus, and could possibly be developed as a treatment for patients with severe Covid-19, UK researchers announced on Tuesday. The researchers hope that the antibodies – known as nanobodies due to their small size – could eventually be developed as a treatment for people suffering from severe Covid-19. The team, made up of researchers from the Rosalind Franklin Institute, Oxford University, Diamond Light Source and Public Health England, engineered the new nanobodies using a collection of antibodies taken from llama blood cells. Llamas, camels and alpacas naturally produce quantities of small antibodies with a simpler structure, that can be turned into nanobodies. Initially, llama antibodies from a lab-based library were used, but antibodies from a live llama, Fifi, are being used for screening now. Fifi is one of the “Franklin llamas” based at the University of Reading, who has been immunised with harmless purified virus proteins. Fifi’s immune system produced different antibodies from those that were already identified, which will enable “cocktails of nanobodies” to be tested against the coronavirus. Related News: Those nanobodies bind tightly to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, essentially covering up the parts that the virus uses to enter human cells, and stopping infection. Additionally, the nanobodies bind to the spike protein differently from other antibodies that have already been discovered, advanced imaging with X-rays and electrons showed. Even though a cure or vaccine for Covid-19 has not been found yet, serum from recovered patients -which contains human antibodies against the virus- has been shown to improve the clinical outcome for critically ill patients. “These nanobodies have the potential to be used in a similar way to convalescent serum (serum of recovered individuals), effectively stopping the progression of the virus in patients who are ill,” said professor James Naismith, Director of The Rosalind Franklin Institute and Professor of Structural Biology at Oxford University said. “We were able to combine one of the nanobodies with a human antibody and show the combination was even more powerful than either alone,” Naismith said. “Combinations are particularly useful since the virus has to change multiple things at the same time to escape; this is very hard for the virus to do. The nanobodies also have potential as a powerful diagnostic,” he added. The team of researchers carried out experiments that would typically take months to complete in just a few days, according to professor Ray Owens from Oxford University, who leads the nanobody program at the Franklin. “We are hopeful that we can push this breakthrough on into pre-clinical trials,” he added. The team’s findings are peer-reviewed, and have been published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. In May, researchers from Ghents VIB-UGent biotechnology centre and from the University of Texas at Austin also identified antibodies produced by a Belgian llama that offered a promising lead to develop treatments against the new coronavirus. Maïthé ChiniThe Brussels Times
Kurt Cobain guitar sold for record 5 million euros - The Brussels Times
A guitar that belonged to the late Kurt Cobain, a former member of the Nirvana rock band, was sold for 6.01 million dollars (5.36 million euros) at a public auction on Saturday in Beverley Hills.Accor
A guitar that belonged to the late Kurt Cobain, a former member of the Nirvana rock band, was sold for 6.01 million dollars (5.36 million euros) at a public auction on Saturday in Beverley Hills. According to Juliens Auctions, which organised the sale, this is the highest price ever paid for a guitar at an auction. The semi-accoustic guitar, made in 1959, is a rare model, a D-18E, only 302 of which were made by the U.S. manufacturer Martin. It conformed to the rules of the Unplugged programme run by U.S. channel MTV, which wanted invited artistes to use only accoustic or semi-accoustic instruments. The Unplugged concert, recorded in New York on 18 November 1993, was the high point of the career of Nirvana, the rock band that made the greatest mark on the 1990s music scene, with an entire musical movement, the grunge, coalescing around it. Just six months later, on 5 April 1994, Cobain, who was depressive and heroin-dependent, committed suicide. Before the start of the auction, experts had estimated the guitars value at somewhere between 1 and 2 million dollars. The previous record price for a guitar was 3.95 million dollars, paid for Black Strat Fender Stratocaster that had belonged to Pink Floyds David Gilmour. The Brussels Times
Coronavirus: people under 20 only half as likely to be infected - The Brussels Times
Age is an important factor in Covid-19 infections, confirmed a new study, estimating that people under 20 years old are only half as likely to get infected as those over 20.The results of the study su
Age is an important factor in Covid-19 infections, confirmed a new study, estimating that people under 20 years old are only half as likely to get infected as those over 20. The results of the study suggest that “interventions targeted at children may have a relatively small impact on reducing the transmission” of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), as many countries are debating about reopening schools after the lockdown. Additionally, the proportion of patients who report symptoms after being infected is 21% among those aged 10 to 19 years old, while it climbs to 69% among those over 70 years old, according to estimates from this study published in the journal Nature Medicine. To arrive at these estimates, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine developed a mathematical model based on age using data from six countries (China, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Canada and South Korea). The researchers also simulated Covid-19 epidemics in 146 capital cities around the world, and concluded that the expected number of cases, in the absence of measures, varied according to the age of the population. The higher the average age of the population, the higher the number of cases per capita. Numerous studies have shown that children are less sensitive to Covid-19 than adults, for reasons as yet unknown. The Brussels Times
Video game sales reach record high amid lockdown - The Brussels Times
March 2020 was a record month for the video game industry around the world, as sales reached the highest monthly total ever, according to market analysts. People have spent $10 billion US dollars (€9.
March 2020 was a record month for the video game industry around the world, as sales reached the highest monthly total ever, according to market analysts. People have spent $10 billion US dollars (9.26 billion) on video games as a large part of the population went into lockdown due to the new coronavirus (Covid-19), according to SuperData, a company that provides market intelligence about the video game industry. Revenue from console games rose by 64% compared to February, from $883 million to $1.5 billion, and PC game sales increased with 56% over the same period, from $363 million to $567 million, SuperData reported. Related Articles Console and PC games “tend to be most popular in North America and Europe, where Covid-19 prevention measures expanded dramatically in March,” according to SuperData. The game Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold 5 million digital units, making it the most purchased console game in history, SuperData said. “New Horizons also roughly matched the first-month digital sales of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Sword and Shield put together. The games combination of social features and a relaxing setting likely appealed to individuals stuck at home,” they explained. Doom Eternal, the hotly anticipated next game in the Doom franchise, sold 3 million digital units as it “benefited from strong reviews and the positive reception of its predecessor,” according to SuperData. Meanwhile, “Half-Life: Alyx performed modestly by the standards of AAA games but was a blockbuster by the standards of virtual reality (VR) exclusive titles,” they said. Not only console and PC games are doing well. “Earnings for a number of major mobile titles also grew during the month,” they said. Pokémon Go’s gross revenue was up by nearly 20%, for example, “after publisher Niantic made tweaks to the game to make it easier to play without physically moving.” “Individuals are turning to games as a reliable entertainment option during the Covid-19 crisis and are using online multiplayer to keep in touch with others,” SuperData said. Overall video game sales were up 11% year-on-year in March, according to Superdata. Jason SpinksThe Brussels Times