Had a rough night, add in the SLOWEST moving ever fibro trigger weather front (honestly, another full day before it clears...).... Yeah, is it Friday yet? No? ARGH.
Hubby's co-worker died of Covid. We found out yesterday. Had me a last straw moment. Hubby hadn't seen him in a long time (obvs, with remote working), but... yeah. guy left a family. (No, he wasn't vax'd.) Stupid. He was only in his mid-fifties, but... Yeah.
So it was not a good night. And for some reason I lost my rosary, which bugs me, b/c it helps with my anxiety (rattling through the beads). Only one I ever had, since I was little, so it's really freaking me out for some reason. Like an omen. Yes, I'm *that* messed up in my head right now.
Today we salute:
Kati Koriko, who over thirty years ago now looked at messenger RNA and asked, "If viruses tell our cells to do stuff that hurts us, and messenger RNA tells our cells to do stuff that is natural to us, can messenger RNA be used to fight disease?"
Then in 1990, researchers at the Univesrity of Wisconsin got it to work in mice. You can "program" mRNA to hijack a cell just like diseases do. Problem: Synthetic genetic material is destroyed by the body as o ften as possible. (Titanium implants being an exception, obvs, with a few others.)
A few years later, enter her colleague from her now-former-position at University of Pennsylvania (Penn, an Ivy League school, versus Penn State, the sprawling behemoth). Drew Weissmann and Koriko hadn't given up. They found out how to get mRNA around the defenses of the body ----- tweak it, don't synthesize it, and on their work marched.
EnterDerrick Rossi of Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and researcher at Stanford. It was now 2005, and he read Koriko & Weissmann's work, and said, "Wait. Hold on. I ahve an idea..."
Now Rossi's idea (after going to work at Harvard Medical) was to use the technology to breed stem cells. We'd been using them in research for decades, but they're generally harvested (usually with permission) from aborted fetuses (spontaneous abortion: medical term for miscarriage, so if you see the words together, don't jump to conclusions). After all, who wants to deal with that sh*tstorm in the news?
But his research showed someething he didn't entirely expect. He could indeed get ADULT human cells to do what embryonic stem cells do!
naturally he and a buddy called a guy at MIT, named Langer, who was one of those dudes who thinks he's God, or should be, and thoroughly kind of an a-hole, and i know, b/c I met him once. Before he was "God".
Within a few months, the drug company Moderna was formed. Yep. That Moderna. From Modified RNA. MODeRNA.
The squabble since that time has been who decided it had great potential for vaccines: Langer or Rossi.
Ironically, it was always (always) Koriko.
Eventually, the whole mess split into two companies: Moderna, and the European-foudned BioNTech, now partnered with Pfizer. And both were focused on two things: VACCINES and cancer treatments. Turned out you can't just throw mRNA into people every week (or at least, not mice,s o nobody tried it in humans), but spaced out doses were working in research pretty well at doing th ejob.
All that remained was to get the genetic codes of diseases.
Then Covid-19 came. And its genetic code was sequenced and released in early 2020, b/c yes, we're that badass at doing that now. Used to take years, now takes weeks. Scary but true.
Also, a virus isn't tough to sequence compared to, say, a n ostrich or something.
And the race was on: Who could get a mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 first?
Turns out.... pretty much a tie.
So today I salute Kati Koriko, who never gave up; Weissmann, who didn't ignore her; and everyone else who kept the faith alive in a technology most regard as science-fictiony horror-movie stuff. I dont', but my FIL spent his adult life doing that same genetic stuff, and when you hear about it at dinner, it's pretty boring, actually.
(FYI: messenger RNA was identified and first researched as a potential conduit for cures before I was born. I'm over 50. My FIL's idea of artwork is art renderings of things like mRNA molecules and enzymes and stuff. You get pretyt numb to it in his company.)
So also a salute to men like my FIL, who said DNA research would hold a key to identifying and curing disease, before Koriko ever did.
Oh, y'all... Yinz... however you want me to say "you" collectively... (Ustedes? Ihr? Wy?)We might get a new fridge by Christmas. (Please support the needed infrastructure at our ports. If the recent backups at LA don't convince, consider that this is $$$ at stake, not politics, okay? Thank you. ) I was laughed at when I asked for a repair. "You fridge is over 10 years old!"... Apparently, 10...