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This is a story about science… told by a non-scientist. It begins over twenty years ago when a team of researchers (including a physician/geneticist) was peering into the hearts of flies. They noticed something that surprised them.
That something would later be identified as the receptor for the SARS virus, and later still as the primary receptor for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
That something is now, arguably, the most studied enzyme in history. It’s Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2, for short.)
“ACE2 is a vital element in a biochemical pathway that is critical to regulating processes such as blood pressure, wound healing and inflammation, called the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) pathway.”…
The research team that found it (in the heart of a fly) included now world-renowned geneticist, #JosefPenninger. His company went on to develop a biologic, i.e. Human Recombinant Soluble ACE2, that is being tested on very ill COVID-19 patients in a Phase II clinical trial. #APN01
There was interest in ACE2 because of its role in SARS. Then SARS faded and so (to a large extent) did that interest. Now, ACE2 is everybody’s favorite enzyme.
Yet, the people who know more about it than anybody, Josef Penninger and his worldwide collaborators, have received hardly any attention; and have not been the subject of any popular press articles in America.
Meanwhile, we, lay citizens, find ourselves in a carnival midway with all kinds of sideshows and presumed breakthroughs drumming up business. And the quiet, often inarticulate voice of science is being drowned out.
Remdesivir receives massive, fawning, global coverage. Hydroxychloroquine? Pushed by a President of the United States. The Chinese are promoting their Traditional Chinese Medicine. There is a mix of hucksterism and jingoism… that doesn’t add up to good science.
This, though, is not a narrow brief for #JosefPenninger and #APN01. It is instead a plea for common sense. There will be more pandemics. Let’s create a steady flow of funding for the current equivalents of those, who over 20 years ago, were peering into the hearts of flies.
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