Archive for November 10th, 2021

Confusing Fundamental Research in Biotech And Greed, The Biden Administration Is.

November 10, 2021

 The Biden administration argues that, because the US government (under Trump) wisely gave ten billion dollars to the biotech startup MODERNA for researching and developing its successful COVID mRNA vaccine, and because US government scientists employed by NIH collaborated at some point in some ways with MODERNA scientists, the US government co-owns the MODERNA Patent. Weirdly. Biden and company have asked MODERNA to share its technology with the world. MODERNA has applied for a US Patent, but has also said it would not assert its patent rights. MODERNA has 20 billion dollars of contracts with various governments for vaccine deliveries at this very moment for 2022. mRNA vaccines are expensive to produce at this point, and cost up to 20 more to produce than simpler cold virus based vaccines such as the J&J or AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine [1]…

mRNA vaccines are sci-fi tech, but they do not penetrate the nucleus, differently from other vaccines… That makes them lighter on the body, so to speak, but also make the immunity they provide less sturdy than the one provided by vaccines using cold viruses as carrier of the adverse spike proteins…

There is major confusion between foundations and applications in the case of asking Moderna to pay for fundamental research made, or not, by NIH scientists.

One has to distinguish fundamental research, mostly motivated by the thirst for knowledge, and applied research, greatly, or mostly, motivated by financial profit. Major countries fund fundamental research, precisely because it is not profitable. By definition of “fundamental”, that research is NOT for profit. A profit motive would mean, by definition, a shorter vision, thus defeating the search for foundations. . 

Aerospace companies in the US (and overseas) profited from NASA research. None paid back NASA. Institutions similar to NASA, or NIH, or NSF, NCAR, USGS, DOE, DARPA, DOD, HHS and their foreign peers have to depend upon government funding to guarantee their will to foundational research. French government financed scientists discovered optical pumping (lasers!) and mRNA. There was no cash pay-back. No cash payback was anticipated, none given. The inventions of the , masers, lasers, and mRNA vaccines, among other things, are payback enough.

To insist on a payback for fundamental research is to guarantee a switch from foundational research to for-profit research, something which defeats the mission.

The most expensive government research adventure is ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, financed by 35 governments (including US, EU, China). No pay back required in cash: the discovery itself is the compensation. Europe’s CERN, a fundamental physics organization, has 39 participants (including Russia and the US).

Humanity has to learn to not just be motivated by profit, but also by the pursuit of life, happiness, and curiosity. Saving lives should be rewarding enough.

So let startups be startups, fanaticized by greed and all-out investing: we need them too, to go from abstract knowledge to effective technology. An example is NASA, which was the first to land rockets (LEM on the Moon, later Delta rocket). NASA, paralyzed by analysis, limited budgets, and massive federal and local government interference, couldn’t made anything out of it. Elon Musk a South African greed fanatic of sorts, though, having inherited from his adventurously wealthy father, a no-holds barred approach, crashed all the rockets needed to succeed in the new craft of landing spacecrafts… Nobody believed it could be done, a fortiori profitably, but greed has its way that the past did not have. Now Musk’s Space X is colonizing the space economy…

When MODERNA launched, more than a decade ago, with its French CEO, nobody believed that its mission, using mRNA vaccines to fight cancer could work. Whereas NASA had demonstrated rocket landings in the 1960s, mRNA vaccines had failed in France (where mRNA was discovered) in the 1990s…

If we want mRNA technology to work, we better not destroy its pioneer… Biden may feel differently… But he should remember his beloved elder son Beau, an attorney, elected politician, and Iraq war veteran, died of an unstoppable brain tumor.

In 2010, Beau suffered a stroke, probably caused by a brain tumor. Three years after the stroke, while on vacation, Beau Biden was admitted to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after suddenly feeling weak and disoriented. A small brain lesion was located and removed from his brain. He was subsequently diagnosed with brain cancer later in 2013. He underwent treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to combat the cancer.

Sadly, Beau died at 46 years old, in May 2015. It remains unclear exactly what took Beau’s life. There is still a question of whether it was a primary brain tumor (originating in the brain) or a secondary brain tumor (spreading from another place in the body). In normal times, all sorts of mechanisms, many immunological, deal with cancer cells. But some cancers are not destroyed, the immune system doesn’t recognize them as dangerous. This is what MODERNA’s mRNA approach wants to fix.

The mRNA approach will turn the human cells into factories to make more than one million proteins. We could even imagine some of these designed to carry some incapacitating factor, and going to glue themselves on cancer sells… Thus fabricating a defense system within…

Last, not least: the private sector is spending billions trying to develop Quantum Computing. However this research is entangled with governments’ public funding of research in the foundations of Quantum Mechanics over the last 125 years… This would be a crucial scientific advance, if it is made to work… But the corporations which spend these billions would be upset if they felt that the governments would ask for some payback, just because governments’ scientists cooperated with said corporations…

Yet, this kind of dreadful feeling is permeating all of biotech now: biotech stocks, that means their financing, are in a bear market, down a third in the average, ever since Biden and company made their ludicrous claims… In other words, investing in better health is way down. Way to go, Biden! You call that progress?

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] mRNA vaccines have been successful against Ebola. However, in the case of COVID cold virus based vaccines are more suitable for the poorest half of the world’s population: not only are they up to 20 times cheaper, but they also provide better long term immunity (latest research, November 2021…) 


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