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Category : Human Longevity

Venture-backed Celularity receives FDA approval for early trials of a new cell therapy for COVID-19 – TechCrunch

Celularity, the venture-backed developer of novel cell therapies for cancer treatments, has received an initial clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to begin early-stage clinical trials on a potential treatment for COVID-19.

The company, which has raised at least $290 million to date (according to Crunchbase), uses Natural Killer (NK) cell therapies to boost the immune systems disease-fighting response.

For Celularity, those NK cells are derived from stem cells cultivated from placental tissue, which hospitals typically treat as medical waste.

Backed by the venture investment firm Section 32, and strategic investors including Celgene, now a division of Bristol Myers; United Therapeutics, a biomedical technology developer; Human Longevity, the troubled venture-backed startup founded by J. Craig Venter; and Sorrento Therapeutics, a publicly traded biomedical company, Celularity was pursuing a number of applications of the novel cell therapy, but its initial focus was on cancer treatments.

The real breakthrough for the company, and one of the reasons it has attracted so much capital, is that its cell therapies dont need to be cultivated from a patient donor a lengthy and expensive process. Celularity is able to produce NK cells and store them, so that they can be ready for transfusion when theyre needed.

With the the FDAs clearance, Celularity is going to begin a small, 86-person trial to test the efficacy of its CYNK-001 immunotherapy to treat COVID-19 infected adults, the company said.

There are at least two studies underway in China that are also testing whether Natural Killer cells can be used to treat COVID-19.

NK cells are a type of white blood cell that are part of the bodys immune system. Unlike t-cells, which target particular pathogens, NK cells typically work to support the immune system by identifying and destroying cells in the body that appear to be stressed, either from an infection or a mutation.

The therapy seems to be successful in treating certain types of cancer, and the companys researchers speculate that it can provide similar results in stopping the ability of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 to spread throughout the body.

However, there are some potential roadblocks and risks to pursuing the NK therapy. Chiefly, COVID-19 is deadly in part because it can push the immune system into overdrive. The cytokine storm that results from the infection means that the body starts attacking healthy cells in the lungs, which leads to organ failure and death. If thats the case, then boosting the immune response to COVID-19 might be dangerous for patients.

Theres also the possibility that NK cells might not be able to detect which cells are infected with the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, rendering the therapy ineffective.

Studies have established that there is robust activation of NK cells during viral infection regardless of the virus class, said Celularitys chief scientific officer, Xiaokui Zhang, in a statement. These functions suggest that CYNK-001 could provide a benefit to COVID-19 patients in terms of limiting SARS-CoV-2 replication and disease progression by eliminating the infected cells.

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Venture-backed Celularity receives FDA approval for early trials of a new cell therapy for COVID-19 - TechCrunch

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Brand Marketing Through the Coronavirus Crisis – Harvard Business Review

Executive Summary

The coronavirus crisis has led to new consumer behaviors and sentiments. The author recommends five ways for brands to serve and grow their customers, mitigate risk, and take care of their people during this difficult time: 1) Present with empathy and transparency; 2) Use media in more agile ways; 3) Associate your brand with good; 4) Track trends and build scenarios; 5) Adapt to new ways of working to keep delivering.

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In times of crisis, it may be hard for marketers to know where to begin. In just a few short weeks, people have shifted into protection mode, focused on themselves, their families, their employees, their customers, and their communities. Social media reflects this, with pleas for fellow citizens to follow government safety guidelines. People have crossed partisan lines to build bridges within their neighborhoods and communities and unify against an invisible force.

With social distancing keeping many people at home, were also seeing major shifts in behavioral trends. Consumers have returned to broadcast and cable television and other premium media sources for credible information. They are also seeking more in the way of escapism and entertainment downloading gaming apps, spending even more time on social media, and streaming more movies and scripted programming. And between remote working arrangements and live-streamed workout classes, college lectures, and social engagements, we are testing the bandwidth of our homes in a largely pre-5G world.

Meanwhile, the need for physical goods is placing pressure on new channels, with demand for e-commerce rising to new levels. For those who do venture out, grocery and convenience stores are the source for essentials, but supply is inconsistent. Health and safety concerns are driving more customers toward frictionless payment systems, such as using mobile phones to pay at check-out without touching a surface or stylus.

Some of these behavior changes may be temporary, but many may be more permanent. As people move beyond the current mode of survival, the momentum behind digital-experience adoption is unlikely to reverse as people are forced by circumstances to try new things. With so much changing so fast during this difficult time, what actions can brands take to serve and grow their customer base, mitigate risk, and take care of their people ?

People feel vulnerable right now. Empathy is critical. Many banks, for example, have moved to waive overdraft fees, recognizing the hardship on their customers. SAP has made its Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse platform free to companies who might be rapidly transitioning to new ways of working. Such instances show humility in the face of a force larger than all of us.

The nuances of brand voice are more delicate than ever. Brands that use this time to be commercially exploitative will not fare well. Better to do as Guinness did in the period surrounding St. Patricks Day, when the company shifted its focus away from celebrations and pub gatherings and instead leaned into a message of longevity and wellbeing. In these moments, we dont have all the answers, and we need to acknowledge that. If you make pledges, even during uncertain times, you have to be able to deliver on what you say.

To quickly pivot creative messages as circumstances change, marketers will want to build more rapid-response operating models internally and with agencies. Access to remote production and creative capacity will become particularly important as the crisis evolves. Nike, for example, immediately moved to adopt a new message: Play inside, play for the world. And in order to promote social distancing and show a commitment to public safety, Chiquita Brands removed Miss Chiquita from their logo. Im already home. Please do the same and protect yourself, its Instagram caption read.

Beyond creative, as the mix of actual media platforms used by consumers changes quickly, marketers should consider modifying their media mix. For example, with digital entertainment spiking, marketers may want to amplify their use of ad-supported premium video streaming and mobile gaming. Similarly, as news consumption peaks while consumers jostle to stay informed, brands should not fear that adjacency, given the level of engagement and relevance. News may simply be an environment that requires more careful monitoring of how frequently ads appear to avoid creative being over-exposed, which can damage brand equity.

People will remember brands for their acts of good in a time of crisis, particularly if done with true heart and generosity. This could take the form of donating to food banks, providing free products for medical personnel, or continuing to pay employees while the companys doors are closed. Adobe, for example, immediately made Creative Cloud available to K-12 institutions, knowing this was a moment to give rather than be purely commercial. Consumers will likely remember how Ford, GE, and 3M partnered to repurpose manufacturing capacity and put people back to work to make respirators and ventilators to fight coronavirus. And people appreciate that many adult beverage companies, from Diageo to AB InBev, repurposed their alcohol-manufacturing capabilities to make hand sanitizer, alleviating short supplies with their Its in our hands to make a difference message.

Feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positive messaging will go a long way to enhancing the brand. However, companies need to show that their contributions are material and not solely for commercial benefit. Consumers recognize authenticity and true purpose.

Frequent tracking of human behavioral trends will help marketers gain better insights in real time. Marketers will want to measure sentiment and consumption trends on a regular basis to better adapt messaging, closely observing the conversation across social-media platforms, community sites, and e-commerce product pages to look for opportunities and identify looming crises more quickly. Companies should consider quickly building dashboards with this kind of data to fuel the right decisions.

Marketers will also want to consider building deeper connections with their C-suite colleagues to provide insights to executives who, increasingly, will be involved with marketing choices. The marketing team should work closely with finance and operations to forecast different scenarios and potential outcomes, depending on how long the crisis lasts.

Its encouraging how quickly many companies were able to transition to remote working arrangements. Deploying collaboration technologies can seamlessly provide chat, file sharing, meeting and call capabilities, enabling teams to stay connected and remain productive. Already, virtual happy hours are emerging as the new normal to build team morale. Partners are pitching remotely, recognizing that an in-face sales call is unlikely to transpire for weeks to come. Leaders have to do their best to transition each element of the operating modelfrom marketing, to sales, to serviceto this new normal. New sources of innovation and even margin improvement will emerge out of our current discomfort.

We are in the acknowledge-and-adapt phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we also have to plan for lifebeyond the crisis. As we navigate what we know, marketing leaders must work externally to keep their brands and customer journeys as whole as possible, while working internally to do three things:

Unquestionably, there is a forced acceleration of the digital transformation agenda as we recognize how quickly customers and employees have embraced digitally enabled journeys and experiences.

Brands are all having to think, operate, and lead in new ways during these uncertain and unprecedented circumstances, and we will all have to learn together with both confidence and humility.

The views reflected in this article are the views of the authors and dont necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.

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Brand Marketing Through the Coronavirus Crisis - Harvard Business Review

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COVID-19: Learn the virtues of patience from great cricketers – Gulf News

Sachin Tendulkar leaves a delivery outside the off stump during his playing days. Image Credit: AFP

Staying at home and maintaining hygiene are two important to dos for all to remain safe from the coronavirus disease. But to practice this, one needs tremendous patience and discipline. The game of cricket teaches these two traits, and most great players have these two qualities in abundance in them.

Staying on the batting crease and keep scoring runs do not come through sheer inborn talent alone. We have often heard about cricketers with great skills but repeatedly failing to post big scores.

During an interview with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for the Friday Magazine, the Little Master told me: Discipline, focus, desire, passion, and fitness are a must if you want to achieve any form of longevity in any field. A disciplined and dedicated effort is what I followed.

At a time when coronavirus is threatening the longevity of everyones life, these qualities are ideal to be emulated. Even bowlers need these traits to be successful. Indias leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is a chess player turned cricketer and hed recently remarked that chess had taught him that even if he didnt get a wicket during a full day of a Test match, he could come back and get wickets the next day. Patience and the hope that the COVID-19 threat will end soon are vital; one cannot get disheartened during this phase.

Everyone has stressed on the importance of being mentally strong during this phase. Sunil Gavaskar, who spoke to Gulf News recently on the need to be mentally strong, is an embodiment of that. Had he been intimidated by the huge, well-built fast bowlers of West Indies, he would never have become the first man to reach the 10,000 Test runs in cricket.

Fear about the future and negativity are something that can grip anyone, especially when staying at home without interacting with people. The famous saying that an idle mind is a devils workshop can turn into reality during this phase. It is during such phases that one should visualise success and dream of achieving glory as soon as this crisis gets over.

This is the right time for everyone to try and read inspiring tales of sportsmen. Sport is about human endurance and the stories you may read are mostly about how sportsmen achieved success through determination.

Many young cricketers complain about not getting selected and on the lack of facilities that have hindered their progress. This is the time get rid of that habit - once and for all. Read an autobiography of a cricketer and there you will see how he managed to ride the toughest of odds to be successful.

This is not the time to complain as to how unlucky you are to be affected by this crisis. Remember, luck has always favoured the brave and the determined!

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COVID-19: Learn the virtues of patience from great cricketers - Gulf News

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

5 free games to cure cabin fever as you wait out the Covid-19 pandemic – The Straits Times

The World Health Organisation last week recommended playing video games as a healthy way of physical distancing while maintaining social connection in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, there are many people who are not gamers or do not want to spend money on games.

So here are five free-to-play games - some with the option of in-app purchases - to consider as we stay home and wait out this wretched pandemic.

Available on PC

If you are a Star Wars fan, playing Star Wars: The Old Republic is a great way to kill time with some familiar galactic action.

This game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, so it is best to get some friends on board. However, it is possible to play alone without teaming up with anyone to complete quests and level up.

You can choose between the path of a Jedi or a Sith. And, of course, expect to wield a lightsaber or two.

Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One


Fancy a last-man-standing battle? Warzone offers that with its Battle Royale mode, in which each match can have up to 150 players - trumping the 100-player limit in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, one of the most popular games of this genre.

Warzone comes with the rich heritage of the Call Of Duty game franchise, and has both solo and team play options in its Battle Royale mode.

Its other main mode is the Blood Money mode, in which teams have to search for cash around a game map to accumulate as much money as possible. The team with the most money wins the game.

Available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360


Sometimes old is gold. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive might be nearly eight years old, but there are still a lot of people playing the game. According to statistics from online video game retailer Steam, more than one million gamers played it concurrently on March 14.

Its longevity lies in its simplicity. This first-person shooter game pits two teams of five against each other.

One team, the Terrorists, needs to plant a bomb or defend hostages, while the other team, the Counter-Terrorists, needs to defuse the bomb or rescue hostages. Your team wins when the objectives are met or when you kill everyone in the opposing team.

Available on PC, Mac and Linux


A game with a premise apt for these times, Foldit is a free puzzle game, developed by researchers at the University of Washington, about killing the coronavirus.

The game was first released in 2008. In 2011, Foldit players helped scientists solve a problem about decoding the Aids virus.

In this update of the game, you will be tasked with creating or modifying protein chains so they can bind to the coronavirus' distinct spike protein, thus preventing the latter from infecting human cells.

While it might sound like rocket science, the puzzle is simple. You just need to fold an existing protein into a new shape that potentially blocks the spike protein.

You earn points based on your protein's efficiency in blocking the spike protein. Download Foldit here.

Available on Android and iOS


In this Scrabble-like multiplayer word game, players take turns to build words on a crossword puzzle-style board.

Each player has seven randomly generated letter tiles. These tiles will be replenished until all 104 tiles have been used. Players take turns to form words on the board and can choose to swop tiles with the pool of currently unused tiles, or skip a turn if they cannot form a word.

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5 free games to cure cabin fever as you wait out the Covid-19 pandemic - The Straits Times

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Only the toughest ginseng – Bangkok Post

Korean culture has globally disseminated through K-beauty as much as K-pop and K-drama have.

The history of Whoo harks back to the royal court of the Joseon Dynasty, in developing the Royal Privilege Cream, majestically priced at 70,500 baht.

Its launch in Bangkok was accompanied by an exhibition about the luxury brand, under LG Household & Healthcare.

Whoo refers to an empress whose age-old beauty secrets, along with records of the court's medical manuals, have been reinterpreted into modern-day cosmetics.

The logo recalls the haegeum, a traditional instrument that maintains harmony and balance of wind and string instruments. This reflects how its beauty products restore the balance of the skin.

Like how traditional Korean medicine prescribes ginseng as a panacea, the K-beauty brand swears by the medicinal herb as a powerful skincare ingredient.

Royal Privilege Cream powered by extracts of the wild ginseng family and flower.

The hefty price tag of the new face cream is due to Royal Empress Wild Ginseng -- a blend of extracts from different parts of a precious type of wild ginseng, Wang Whoo Sam, found in the northeastern part of the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range.

Crowned the Queen of Wild Ginseng, it grows as a family comprising mother and offspring with a strong vitality and longevity lineage. Only the toughest mother ginseng is able to deliver the baby ginseng, which further makes them a rare find in nature.

Common wild ginseng generally dies after 20-30 years, but this variety, as a group, lives twice as long, for 40-50 years. Moreover, it contains a high amount of active substances, for promoting healthy skin.

The Royal Privilege Cream also contains an extract from wild ginseng flowers, endowed with more phytocompounds than those found in the roots.

The inflorescence fully blooms from 8-10am, for only two to three days in a year, between mid May to June, when it is picked to capture the concentrated vital energy.

Likewise, the human body depends on a life force energy and a strong immune system that improves overall skin health.

The formulation of the Royal Privilege Cream is based on this principle, termed Dae-Bo-Won-Gi, which emphasises a fully-charged "original energy" in order to maintain a harmonious circulation of blood, vital energy and essence for healthy body and skin.

The Royal Privilege Pact comes with three applicators for different effects. The history of Whoo

From oriental medicine records, the researchers also learned of the cocoon's efficacy in softening the skin and how it was burned to release its medicinal properties.

This led to adding a silk protein, Sericin, to enrich the Royal Privilege Cream with nutrients while smoothening the texture of the formula.

The luxurious cream is housed in a handcrafted jar and box, inspired by a jade investiture book, appointment edict and gold seal engraved with the title, bestowed to a Korean empress in a royal coronation.

The regal cream was unveiled along with the Royal Privilege Pact, presented in a compact, evoking a jewellery box, with similar delicate metalwork and regal motif.

The pressed powder claims to contain traces of platinum, gold, sapphire, coral, pearl, ruby, diamond and amber, which justifies its price of over 27,500 baht.

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Only the toughest ginseng - Bangkok Post

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The race for a coronavirus vaccine – The Week

Researchers are working frantically on a shot that would immunize people against Covid-19. Why does it take so long? Here's everything you need to know:

Is a vaccine close?Despite the global competition to develop a coronavirus vaccine, experts agree one won't be available for at least 12 to 18 months. The race kicked off Jan. 10, when Chinese scientists published the complete 30,000-letter genetic code of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That allowed scientists to make synthetic versions of the virus rather than waiting for sample shipments, and roughly 80 pharma giants, small labs, and government entities began chasing a cure. Moderna, a biotech startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, produced a vaccine candidate that was injected into the arm of a 43-year-old Seattle mother in mid-March, smashing the world record for fastest human testing. Several other labs have since launched clinical trials. President Trump pledged to "slash red tape" slowing development, but scientists say it's not bureaucracy or pointless rules that make his request for a vaccine by summertime impossible.

What's the holdup?Before injecting a vaccine into millions of people, scientists need to conduct tests to prove that it actually protects against a specific pathogen and doesn't have serious side effects. Under normal circumstances, a vaccine can take a decade to get FDA approval. Coronavirus research is racing along, thanks largely to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a Norway-based organization founded in 2017 to help labs like Moderna plan for "prototype" pathogens. Yet although scientists are desperate to save lives, cutting corners could have treacherous consequences. (Extremely ill patients can get unproven treatments under "compassionate use" exceptions, but vaccines are administered to people before they get sick.) A vaccine for swine flu in 1976 gave hundreds of people a rare nerve disorder, and a vaccine for H1N1 bird flu in 2009 caused some Europeans to develop narcolepsy. Some failed vaccines have made recipients more vulnerable to the disease. A candidate vaccine for SARS was abandoned after it made mice more likely to die.

How is a vaccine created?There are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses, but new technology is accelerating the process; three hours after China published the COVID-19 genome, Inovio Pharmaceuticals in San Diego used a computer algorithm to produce a vaccine blueprint. Preventive vaccines use dead or weakened pathogens to prime the immune system to fight diseases in the case of COVID-19, by teaching it to recognize the coronavirus protein's "spikes" that latch onto cells. That recognition cues white blood cells to produce antibodies that can fight a real infection. Moderna is pursuing an original approach: injecting messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules that encode instructions for building coronavirus-like proteins, so they can be recognized as foreign threats.

How long will testing take?Clinical trials usually occur in three phases. First, about 50 healthy human volunteers are paid $1,100 each to be injected with a candidate vaccine, and then monitored to see if they produce antibodies without unintended side effects. If that's successful, a few hundred people get the vaccine, and their immune response and side effects are carefully studied. In phase three, several thousand people are tested: Half get the vaccine, half get a placebo; if vaccinated subjects don't get sick or get sick at much lower rates, the vaccine is ready for FDA approval. This all can take eight to 12 months. If and when a coronavirus vaccine is approved, other problems immediately arise: Who gets it first? And who pays for vaccinations if people are uninsured? Manufacturing billions of vaccine doses will take months, and rich nations could hoard limited supplies. Vaccinating every American could cost $165 billion, Time estimates.

What are the top contenders?Some of the most promising vaccines build on proven science. Janssen, the Belgian pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is developing a vaccine modeled on the successful vaccine for Ebola. Inovio, the San Diegobased company, and Maryland-based Novavax are modeling vaccines on candidates in advanced trials for MERS, a coronavirus disease similar to COVID-19. In China, 1,000 scientists are working on a vaccine and launching more than 200 clinical trials to test everything from anti-flu drugs to ancient Chinese herbal medicine. Moderna's mRNA approach is also being used by the German company CureVac; German government officials accused Trump of trying to poach CureVac scientists and their intellectual property for the exclusive use of the U.S.

What's a realistic timeline?There are dozens of vaccines in the pipeline, but COVID-19 cases are expected to peak in the U.S. months before any of them is approved. Scientists raced to find vaccines for SARS, in the early 2000s, and MERS, in 2012, only to shelve their work when those outbreaks were contained. Experts have grimmer expectations for the longevity of coronavirus, meaning a vaccine ready a year from now could still save many millions of lives. With a large number of people getting sick and dying, the race for a vaccine requires a painful amount of patience. "I'm going to bed thinking we made some progress," Moderna president Stephen Hoge says, "and waking up every morning feeling further and further behind."

Promising treatments A treatment that lessens the impact of COVID-19 is expected to come before a vaccine, but doctors on the front lines warn against high hopes. "We have no idea what works or does not at this point," says Andre Kalil, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Kalil is leading U.S. clinical trials for one of the most promising treatments, the antiviral drug remdesivir, which was developed for Ebola. In February, an American passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who contracted coronavirus after the ship docked in Japan became Kalil's first volunteer. Other antivirals being researched are already in use for HIV and malaria. Other tests focus on drugs for lung inflammations, and antibody-based treatments, including using antibody-rich blood serum taken from coronavirus survivors. A survivor can spare enough serum for one to 10 people. A Johns Hopkins University team got FDA approval in mid-March to test this approach. "This is real," team leader Arturo Casadevall says. "In eight weeks, we may have something that's useful."

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, try the magazine for a month here.

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The race for a coronavirus vaccine - The Week

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

The herd and the mob – Prince George Citizen

Early in the pandemic, there was some talk by wishful politicians that herd immunity would be enough to deal with the coronavirus, that shutting down vast sections of the economy and putting millions out of work wouldnt be necessary. The idea was that enough people would be exposed, be mildly sick for a short time and then be immune, able to work and protect others.

Two problems with COVID-19 made herd immunity impossible. First, the ability for asymptomatic people to spread the virus for days, a fact well-known early in the pandemic, despite the senior politicians proclaiming as late as last week that they had no idea. Second, COVID-19 makes people far sicker for far longer and kills far more people than the average flu, again despite political leaders and American broadcasters insisting for too long, well into late March, that it was just another flu.

Herd immunity is what makes childhood vaccinations work so well. If the vast majority of children are vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, pertussis and so on, they form a wall of protection around the small group of children unable to be vaccinated due to underlying health conditions.

If there is one silver lining in this pandemic cloud, its hopefully that weve heard the last of anti-vaxxers. It will be a vaccine, after all, that will protect humans from COVID-19. Sadly, that vaccine wont come in time to save millions of people around the world, in our country and in our province.

Modern society has allowed many people to unplug from the herd. In a much earlier time in human history, selfishness, individuality, being a loner, going your own way was suicidal. The only way for early humans to survive in a hostile environment with few resources was to band together. Self-survival was intimately tied to the health and well-being of ones neighbour and the overall herd.

Human evolution experts are increasingly convinced by the fossil record and other evidence that homo sapiens survived while other forms of early human, such as Neanderthals, didnt because homo sapiens were better team players, using their imagination to adjust to new situations with innovative approaches to further the longevity of the herd.

In other words, survival of the fittest isnt individual brute strength, self-interest and mercilessly culling out the weak. Its kinship, collaboration and kindness.

The herd ethic isnt perfect, of course. The mob mentality is also a manifestation of the herd. Otherwise sensible people have found themselves looting, hoarding, rioting, wilfully putting themselves and others in danger and later cant explain why, their behaviour as senseless and against their self-interest as the creatures mindlessly following their neighbour off a cliff.

Fortunately, the mob never prevails, although it can do catastrophic damage in a short time, up to and including destruction of itself and the herd (sounds like a virus, doesnt it?).

Fortunately, that is rare. If it were more common, homo sapiens and the many other herd creatures wouldnt be here today.

The herd endures.

Its more than selflessness and altruism leading so many people to do the right thing - healthcare workers putting themselves at risk to treat people they dont know, essential workers showing up for their shifts, families staying home to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Thats the herd programming, hardwired deep in our brains, at work.

Thats the elephants and the bison and the musk ox forming a circle around the most vulnerable members of the herd while facing the external threat head-on.

For them and us, then and now, the herd is salvation, the mob annihilation.

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The herd and the mob - Prince George Citizen

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Market Insight: What Does the Sustainability & Climate Change Profession Look Like During, and After, COVID-19? –

Apr. 07 /CSRwire/ - Communication and transparency are important right now. It is useful to share perspectives and information. Brevity is also important as there is a lot for us all to do, so here is a short update of Acre's observations.

How is the current situation impacting the employment market?

Some organisations and industries have been hit hard by coronavirus, and our thoughts are with them, but there are plenty of organisations that have the opportunity to keep on trading unimpeded, or that may see a benefit from the current scenario.We have observed the following:

Existing recruitment processes have generally continued:About 80% of companies have continued their hiring processes despite the challenging backdrop. The number of interviews we are organizing has not dipped probably aided by the ease of video technology.

Companies are making hiring decisions based on video conference interviews:The majority of companies are willing to make hiring decisions based on videoconference interviews, so as not to lose momentum in recruitment processes

Purpose-driven jobs are still being created:Albeit at a reduced level, we have continued to take on a number of exceptional new assignments across all our global territories. We will continue to post these on our website and onLinkedIn, where appropriate.

What is the long-term outlook for the professions?

Our work focuses on system-level issues that need to be addressed over years, not months - in the wake of coronavirus these challenges will remain. Whats more, the current status quo is likely to galvanize a move towards a more sustainable global economic model.

The market has been growing:Over the past two years, Acre has experienced an acceleration in the growth of the sustainability employment market, driven by heightened corporate engagement, grass-roots mobilization, increased consumer awareness, regulatory pressure, and commitments that span borders, such as the Paris Climate Agreement.

There has also been a shift in the focus of the investment community for even greater standards of board accountability on how their business is adapting to a two-degree climate scenario.

Commitment to climate change is high:Whilst the 2008 recession reduced commitment to climate issues (some companies were recruiting Climate Change Directors prior to this point), climate change mitigation and adaptation is much more embedded in the makeup of our socioeconomic systems now, and as many have observed, the coronavirus epidemic may serve to enhance this further.

Opportunities will emerge:The 2008 recession had other positive impacts for the sustainability profession. For instance, companies began to look at how to achieve financial efficiencies within their businesses. For this reason, we experienced an enhanced demand for energy managers as companies looked to reduce their energy costs. The sustainability profession is diverse; amongst issues such as wellbeing, business ethics, supply chain, and circular economy there will be areas that are not only well sheltered but become more critical over the coming months.

Sustainability as a profession may be enhanced:Beyond 2008, companies who were focussed on achieving longevity began to evolve their perception of sustainability away from a CSR and public relations exercise, to a core strategic opportunity and a driver of business innovation. In an environment of challenge and constraint, it was inevitable that sustainability would have to account for itself.

The importance of sustainability is likely to be enhanced again, particularly as this time the issue is caused by a specific challenge that our profession will have a role in tackling.

Healthy, safe and well citizens:Inside and outside of business, there will be enhanced scrutiny of how people were treated during this time. Since the rise of social media and the public outcry at footage from events such as the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2003, the world will be looking at how workforces and supply chains have been protected from both a health and an economic perspective. An increased value will be placed on functions that support this endeavour.

What is our collective role?

Companies and those who lead them have an obligation to play a positive and constructive role in supporting society to navigate the temporary challenge that we face.Our role is as follows:

To stay focused on the challenges we address:Coronavirus has swept across society quickly, so its effect is obvious however the impacts of climate change, ocean plastics, loss of biodiversity, poor air quality and human rights are enduring issues which pose enormous challenges and threats. It is essential not to lose sight of this.

To mobilize our teams to support:The sustainability profession has been responsible for the greatest feats of industrial collaboration in history (think multi stakeholder-initiatives) and we must collectively leverage this experience now - we all have a responsibility to support each other at times like this. Please pick up the phone if we can support you or provide information which will help with your personal decision making. We are enriched, energized and humbled by the open dialogues we are having with our clients and stakeholders.

To instill confidence in the market:To the best of our ability, we will continue to take a business-as-usual approach. At Acre, we are supporting our employees, sharing our progress with the market, and exploring how we can adapt in certain areas where market constraints currently exist.

Our pace remains the same our professions remit is vital to societal and environmental adaptation and we will press ahead with full commitment.

Please feel free to reach out to discuss any of the observations made above.

From all of us, we hope that you and your families are in good health.

Andy Cartland, Founder of Acre

About Acre

Sustainability & EHS Recruitment and Talent Development

Acre connects forward thinking organisations with purpose driven professionals. We work with functions which focus on resolving systemic challenges that impact society and the environment at a global level. These functions include; Sustainability and CSR, Corporate Affairs, ESG and Sustainable Finance, EHS as well as Energy and Clean Technology. To learn more,

Market Insight: What Does the Sustainability & Climate Change Profession Look Like During, and After, COVID-19? -

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Worst-case scenarios arent the only ones – Keizertimes

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a conference call on COVID-19 and warned, as The New York Times reported, that 160 million to 214 million Americans could become infected and 200,000 to 1.7 million might die.

On March 3, the World Health Organization noted that globally 3.4 percent of those infected with the virus died.

These numbers have become frequent talking pointseven though they presented an inflated picture based on cases confirmed because patients had symptoms in countries with dubious health care systems. We are living in a news climate where the scarier the factoid, the more credibility it can claim.

The problem is the experts dont know this number either, Stanford University Medical Professor Jayanta Bhattacharya told me after he became alarmed at some of the high estimates floating around including numbers that, for example, didnt factor in the effects of social distancing.

And it bothers Bhattacharya that risk assessments see risk only in not following guidelines when there can be risk in following them. Theres mortality on both sides of this, he explained.

I am not an expertso Ill go along with what doctors recommend. But I can still voice skepticism about dire predictions that the nation has to hunker down for many months, and I can wonder if a multimonth shutdown, which some officials are suggesting, will produce economic outcomes that are bad for human health and longevity.

And Im open to news that doesnt offer the worst possible information.

As of last week,the mortality rate in the United States was about 1.5 percentwith a patient pool that largely was symptomatic. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress he believes the coronavirus mortality rate is 1 percent10 times larger than the 0.1 percenet rate for the common flu.

Bhattacharya sifted through studies, corrected for certain factors and came up with morality rate closer to one-half of 1 percentbut he wont trust that estimate until there is a study to back it up.

Thats not great news, as it portends once-healthy adults hooked up to ventilators and vulnerable people in caskets. Wed all like the magic number to be zero.

The death rate stays on the low side only if health care workers have protective gear and hospitals have beds and ventilators and that is not a universal situation.

I am struck at one area of agreement between Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Trump told Fox News that his goal was to ease the guidelines and open things up to very large sections of our country as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy. Trump threw out Easter, April 12, which he later called a beautiful timeline. Figure, its a goal.

University of Ottawa professor of Law and Medicine Amir Attaran told The Times, Nobody voted in Donald Trump thinking he would become a one-man death panel empowered to dispense with American lives like cannon fodder.

For his part, Fauci told reporters that no one wants to tone things down in New York City but there could be a more flexible approach in parts of the country.

Cuomo, the governor of the state with the countrys worst infection rate, has spoken to the same effect. He told reporters, You cant stop the economy forever. Cuomo has flirted with sending young people or those who have had the virus and are now immune back to work earlier than others.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Bidens reaction to Trumps Easter talking point?

The former vice president told CBS News: The only thing we can do worse than telling the American people the truth is in fact raise false hopes. And then when it doesnt occur, they say, oh my God, something really must be worse than I thought it was.

Thats the conventional wisdom from inside the Beltwaythat there is a duty to shut down everything because there is no downside to an abundance of caution. And somehow leaders instill trust by not wanting to open some of the doors sooner.

Theres no caution on either side, said Bhattacharya. If the end of the quarantine is tomorrow, that could be a disaster. If we continue the quarantine for a couple of months, that could be a disaster also.

(Creators Syndicate)

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Worst-case scenarios arent the only ones - Keizertimes

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Neural excitation linked to shorter lifespan – National Institute on Aging

Increased neural activity was linked to a shorter lifespan, according to a study funded in part by NIA and published in Nature. The study, conducted using human brain tissue and worm and mouse models, suggests that suppressing electrical activity in the brain could lead to a longer life.

Led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, the team first studied gene-expression data from brain tissue samples donated by hundreds of older adults with normal cognition. They found that people 85 years and older had fewer transcripts of genes involved in neural excitation a process through which a nerve cell signals the next receiving nerve cell and synaptic function than those who were 80 years of age or younger. Specifically, they found that people who lived longer had higher levels of repressor element 1-silencing transcription factor (REST), which appeared to suppress excitation-related genes.

To further investigate the association between REST and aging, the researchers genetically altered mice to lack the transcription repressor. Imaging scans revealed an increase in neuronal activity, measured by glucose uptake, in the brains of mice without REST.

The scientists also investigated neural regulation in C. elegans worms, a well-established model for aging research. They found that as the worms aged, neural activity heightened. By suppressing this excitatory neuronal activity with a calcium channel blocker, they found that the worms lived longer.

The researchers then boosted SPR-4, the worm equivalent of REST, which resulted in decreased excitation and extended lifespan. They found that SPR-4 relied on another transcription factor, called DAF-16, in order to reduce neural excitation. Without DAF-16, SPR-4 did not extend worm life, suggesting that the extension in lifespan was contingent on an insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling pathway in worms. The researchers noted that the human equivalent to DAF-16, FOXO1, was similarly linked to the expression of REST in the human brain samples. In addition, findings showed REST knockout mice had less FOXO1 than age-matched controls.

The study demonstrates that REST and the suppression of neuronal activity may converge with insulin signaling pathways to extend lifespan. The authors suggest that the activation of REST and reduction of excitatory neural activity could act as an approach to slowing the aging process and extending human longevity. These findings also may inform additional research into conditions that can induce excessive neural activity, such as Alzheimers disease.

This research was funded in part by NIA grants RO1AG046174, RO1AG26651, P30AG10161, R01AG15819, R01AG17917, R01AG36836, U01AG46152, K99AG050830, P01AG02219and P50AG05138.

Reference: Zullo J, et al. Regulation of lifespan by neural excitation and REST. Nature. 2019;574:359-364. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1647-8.

Originally posted here:
Neural excitation linked to shorter lifespan - National Institute on Aging

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

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