The Note: Biden sees masks as symbol and substance in drawing contrast with Trump

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

Trump wore a mask Monday in leaving Walter Reed for the White House — but it didn’t stay on long. By the end of another extraordinary night, with an infected president urging people not to let COVID-19 “dominate” their lives, it may as well have never been on.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is calling that out, as he pleads for science over showmanship with a month to go before Election Day.

“Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them,” Biden said in Monday night’s NBC town hall. “What is this macho thing — ‘I’m not going to wear a mask?’ What’s the deal here? Big deal!”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Jose Marti Gym in Miami, Oct. 5, 2020.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Jose Marti Gym in Miami, Oct. 5, 2020.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Jose Marti Gym in Miami, Oct. 5, 2020.

Masks have been a big deal in this campaign because the president has made them so. Notwithstanding his own administration’s guidelines, Trump used masks as a political cudgel long before the stunning irresponsibility inside his White House and campaign appears to have contributed to the spread COVID-19 among the president and his inner circle.

Trump’s moves now are as incredible as they are predictable. Monday night he said in a video he tweeted out that now he might be “immune” from COVID-19, as he again promised a vaccine and treatments.

“Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen,” the president said.

The virus, though, has already

Substance with new mechanism of action found — ScienceDaily

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The villain in this drama has a pretty name: Aurora — Latin for dawn. In the world of biochemistry, however, Aurora (more precisely: Aurora-A kinase) stands for a protein that causes extensive damage. There, it has been known for a long time that Aurora often causes cancer. It triggers the development of leukemias and many pediatric cancers, such as neuroblastomas.

Researchers at the universities of Würzburg and Frankfurt have now developed a drug that can disarm Aurora. Dr. Elmar Wolf, biochemist and research group leader at the Biocenter of Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU), and Stefan Knapp, Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Goethe University Frankfurt, have played a leading role in this development. The results of their work have now been published in the latest issue of Nature Chemical Biology.

Making tumor-promoting proteins disappear

“Cancers are usually triggered by tumorigenic proteins,” explains Elmar Wolf. Because cancer cells produce more of these proteins than normal cells, the dynamics are additionally increased. A common therapeutic approach is therefore to inhibit the function of these proteins with drugs. “Although the proteins are then still there, they no longer function as well. This makes it possible to combat the tumor cells,” he says.

However, the development of these inhibitors is difficult and has so far not been successful for all tumor-promoting proteins. To date, none of the candidates that inhibit Aurora has shown the desired results in clinical practice. The dream of many scientists is therefore to develop a drug that not only inhibits the tumor-promoting proteins but makes them disappear completely. A promising approach along this path could be a new class of substances with the scientific name “PROTAC.”

In vitro cancer cells die

“We have developed such a PROTAC for Aurora,” says Elmar Wolf. Together with his team and especially his doctoral student

Worry, fear of COVID-19 amplifies risk of substance abuse — ScienceDaily

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Long after a COVID-19 vaccination is developed and years after the coronavirus death toll is tallied, the impact on mental health will linger, continuing to inflict damage if not addressed, according to new research. Michael Zvolensky, University of Houston Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory/Substance Use Treatment Clinic, has published two papers discussing the psychological, addictive and health behavior issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic from a behavioral science perspective.

“The impact of COVID-19 on psychological symptoms and disorders, addiction and health behavior is substantial and ongoing and will negatively impact people’s mental health and put them at greater risk for chronic illness and drug addiction,” reports Zvolensky in Behaviour Research and Therapy. “It will not equally impact all of society. Those at greater risk are those that have mental health vulnerabilities or disorders.”

For instance, those who ‘catastrophize’ the pandemic amplify the actual stress impact, increasing their symptoms and creating the possibility for substance abuse.

“That sets in motion a future wave of mental health, addiction and worsening health problems in our society. It’s not going to go away, even with a vaccination, because the damage is already done. That’s why we’re going to see people with greater health problems struggling for generations,” said Zvolensky

Zvolensky offers a model of how the COVID-19 stress burden may be associated with addictive problems and health behaviors, and how these may be associated with later chronic illness and psychological problems.

In Psychiatry Research, Zvolensky presents findings linking worry and fear about the pandemic to drug use and abuse.

Zvolensky evaluated a group of 160 participants to find if COVID-19-related worry and fear differed between substance abstainers, pre-COVID-19 users and those who initiated drug use for the first