NEC OncoImmunity AS and Oslo University Hospital Team Up to Develop a Diagnostic for COVID-19 Using Artificial Intelligence

NEC OncoImmunity AS (NOI), a subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NEC), and Oslo University Hospital (OUH) are pleased to announce that they have recently been awarded a prestigious grant from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that will enable the rapid design of T-cell diagnostics for emerging or endemic infectious diseases. The project will develop a novel T-cell diagnostic for the current COVID-19 pandemic to complement the current serological tests. This will improve the ability to identify immune responses and acquired immunity, which is desperately needed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Current technologies involve extensive trial and error to define exactly which parts of the pathogen induces robust immunity. These so-called immunodominant epitopes need to be identified for the general population. These demanding, work-intensive and time-consuming steps are necessary to develop tests to monitor the T-cell response to viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the infectious virus that causes COVID-19).

Reliable diagnostic tests to identify immune individuals are critical to overcome the ever-looming threat of COVID-19. The AI-based diagnostic to be developed in this project will complement antibody tests and enable individuals who are naturally immune to the virus following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or other seasonal coronaviruses, or who have acquired immunity following vaccination, to be identified.

“Antibody tests are an important aspect of understanding the immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection and will remain a mainstay of its diagnosis. However, protective SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses occur in antibody-negative infected individuals who have successfully resolved the infection. In addition, we may already have underlying immunity in the population due to cross reactivity to endemic seasonal human coronaviruses,” said Professor Ludvig A. Munthe Ph.D., Head of Research and Group Leader, Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital.

Although the technology to develop antibody diagnostics is readily available, this is not the case for T-cell diagnostics, which currently represents a “blind spot” for the monitoring of immunity to COVID-19 in the world’s population. To address this important gap, NOI and OUH, with the support of RCN, have now committed themselves to develop an AI-designed T-cell diagnostic that monitors the underlying T-cell response to the infection. Developing a reliable T-cell diagnostic comes with specific technological challenges with solutions offered by the NEC Immune Profiler at NOI to cater for the global human population.

“T-cells are known to play a central role for initial and long term immunity against viruses. However, T-cell responses are highly variable between different pathogens and genetic groups in the human population, making the prospect of developing reliable universal T-cell diagnostics for COVID-19 challenging. This challenge has inspired the scientists at NOI to use our AI to seek out the T-cell response to infection as a diagnostic signal. In this project we look forward to adapting the NEC Immune Profiler and other AI technologies at NEC Corporation and leveraging them to develop a COVID-19 T-cell diagnostic for the diverse genetic makeup in the global human population,” said Trevor Clancy Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, NEC OncoImmunity

Trump’s medical team briefing reveals things are worse than we knew

Here’s what we learned from the latest briefing.

Trump given steroid, a worrying sign

As a determination of the team based predominantly on the timeline from the initial diagnosis that we initiate dexamethasone. – White House physician Dr. Sean Conley

Dexamethasone – a safe, inexpensive steroid that has been around for decades – is generally reserved for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 cases.

The National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization both recommend the drug for patients on supplemental oxygen or ventilators, based on a large clinical trial that found it reduced the risk of death. But both guidelines warn the drug could harm people who don’t require oxygen therapy or a ventilator, and should not be used for such patients. Trump’s doctors said Sunday that he has received oxygen therapy twice for limited periods. They also said he’s run a fever.

The decision to give Trump dexamethasone shows that “he’s actually having effects on his lungs from the virus,” said Abraar Karan, an internal medicine doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Trump continues antiviral treatment that can shorten length of illness

The president yesterday evening completed his second dose of remdesivir. He’s tolerated that infusion well. – Dr. Brian Garibaldi

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug made by Gilead Sciences originally developed to fight Ebola. Trump’s doctors said Friday that he had begun the standard-five day course of infusions of the drug.

Remdesivir has been shown to speed recovery, but it’s not clear if it actually reduces the risk of death. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized emergency use in hospitalized patients.

Trump’s oxygen levels have dipped to concerning levels

Late Friday morning, when I returned to the bedside, the president had a high fever and his oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94 percent. Given these two developments, I was concerned for possible rapid progression of the illness. I recommended the president we try supplemental oxygen, see how he would respond. He was fairly adamant that he didn’t need it. He was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever and that was about it. And after about a minute, on only two liters, his saturation levels were back over 95 percent. He stayed on that for about an hour, maybe, and was off and gone. – Dr. Conley

Another oddity of Covid-19: some patients’ oxygen levels fall, but they don’t have trouble breathing. That’s why doctors watch blood oxygen levels.

The president’s physicians gave him oxygen after his level dropped below 94 percent — a key threshold for Covid-19 patients. Dipping below that level signals that a patient’s case is moderate or severe, with the exact diagnosis depending on other vital signs, according to the CDC.

“Once you drop below 94 percent, by definition you have severe Covid,” said Carlos del Rio, an infectious-disease expert at Emory University.

What do Trump’s lung scans actually show?

What did the X-rays and CT scans show? Are there signs of pneumonia? Are there signs

A virus and bacteria may ‘team up’ to harm babies’ brains

A newly discovered bacteria may be working with a common virus to cause a serious brain condition in infants in Uganda, according to a new study.

This brain disorder, called hydrocephalus, involves an abnormal buildup of fluid in the cavities of the brain and is the most common reason for brain surgery in young children, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Every year, about 400,000 new cases of hydrocephalus are diagnosed in children worldwide, and the condition remains a major burden in low- and middle-income countries, according to the study published today (Sept. 30) in the journal Science Translational Medicine

About half of those hydrocephalus cases happen after a prior infection and are known as “post-infectious hydrocephalus,” according to the study. But until now, scientists didn’t know what microbes were infecting infants, and identifying those pathogens is key to preventing the condition, according to the authors.

Related: The 12 deadliest viruses on Earth

For nearly 20 years, a small hospital in Uganda called the CURE Children’s hospital has been treating thousands of cases of hydrocephalus in children.

“Hydrocephalus is the most common childhood neurosurgical condition that we see in the population that we serve,” one of the lead authors Dr. Edith Mbabazi-Kabachelor, director of research, CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda said in a statement. If left untreated in children younger than 2 years of age, hydrocephalus will increase head size, leading to brain damage; the majority of those children will die, and the others will be left with physical or cognitive disabilities, she added. 

So a group of international researchers set out to understand what could be causing this brain condition.

“Thirteen years ago, while visiting Uganda and seeing a stream of kids with hydrocephalus after infection I asked the doctors, ‘What is the biggest problem you have that you can’t solve?'” one of the senior authors Steven J. Schiff, Brush Chair professor of engineering and professor of engineering science and mechanics, neurosurgery and physics at Penn State, said in the statement. “‘Why don’t you figure out what makes these kids sick?’ was the reply.”

CT brain scans of infants with hydrocephalus show differences in the brains of those with post-infectious hydrocephalus (PIH), non-postinfectious hydrocephalus (NPIH), infection with the bacteria Paenibacillus (Paeni) or infection with the virus cytomegalovirus (CMV).

CT brain scans of infants with hydrocephalus show differences in the brains of those with post-infectious hydrocephalus (PIH), non-post-infectious hydrocephalus (NPIH), infection with the bacteria Paenibacillus (Paeni) or infection with the virus cytomegalovirus (CMV). (Image credit: J.N. Paulson et al., Science Translational Medicine (2020))

Schiff and his team analyzed blood and cerebrospinal fluid from 100 infants under 3 months old being treated at the CURE Children’s hospital for hydrocephalus — 64 of them developed the condition after an infection (doctors knew they had been infected because the babies either had severe illness, seizures or brain imaging showed signs of a prior infection) and 36 without a prior infection (brain images and other tests showed another issue causing the condition such as tumors or cysts).

They sent these samples to two different labs for DNA and RNA sequencing to look for possible traces of genetic material from bacteria, viruses

Northern Lights Strengthens Geological Team at Secret Pass and Medicine Springs

VANCOUVER, BC / ACCESSWIRE / September 30, 2020 / Northern Lights Resources Corp. (CSE:NLR) (the “Company” or “Northern Lights”) is pleased to announce a number of updates as the Company advances the Secret Pass gold project in Arizona and the Medicine Springs silver, lead zinc project in Nevada.

Northern Lights is pleased to announce the following appointments to its corporate and project teams:

  • Mr. Paul Warren has been appointed to our geological team and is leading our exploration program at the Secret Pass Gold project in Arizona. Paul is a highly experienced Professional Geologist with over 25 years of experience in exploration, geotechnical, structural geology and mine operations. From 1995 to 2017, Paul worked for PT Freeport McMoran (“Freeport”) at the company’s copper and gold mine in Irian Jaya, Indonesia (one of the largest copper/gold mines in the world). Paul held a range of operating and management positions at Freeport including Exploration Geologist where he conducted helicopter assisted exploration in remote locations; General Superintendent roles leading and training Freeport geological teams in resource, geology and hydrology modelling. Paul is an expert at computer based modeling and early stage exploration of Cu-Au porphyry skarn deposits. Paul holds a Master of Arts in Geology and a Bachelor of Science Geology from University of Texas. Paul is a Professional Geologist and is a Certified Professional Geologist. Paul is based in Tucson, Arizona.
  • Mr. William (Bill) Tafuri has been appointed to our geological team and will oversee exploration at the Medicine Springs silver lead and zinc project in Nevada and assist the Company exploration program at Secret pass and other project evaluations. Bill has over 40 years of experience working on a wide range of gold and base metals exploration and development projects throughout USA, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Bill’s experience includes senior roles with: Getty Mining Company where he managed exploration and project evaluation for porphyry copper as well as gold projects; Senior Geologist at Santa Fe Gold and subsequently Newmont Gold; Phelps Dodge where he directed and lead local geological teams in Kazakhstan and evaluated gold and polymetallic deposits; Chief Geologist for Kinross Gold where he was responsible for all exploration projects in the Western Hemisphere. Bill holds a Ph.D in Geology from the University of Utah and a Masters in Geology and a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Nevada. Bill is based in Park City, Utah.

Both Paul and Bill will report to NLR’s Chief Geologist, Gary Artmont who is overseeing and directing the Company’s exploration strategy.

  • Mr. Michael (Mike) England has been appointed as a Strategic Advisor to Northern Lights. Mike is a Vancouver based mining industry executive and is currently leading several successful exploration companies with projects in Canada and USA including Sky Gold Corporation, BTU Metals and Golden Lake Exploration. Mike will assist Northern Lights with the company’s business growth and financing strategy.

Northern Lights has begun the application processes for an OTCQB listing with DTC eligibility as well as a Frankfurt Stock