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Editorial: A sigh of relief for California as Newsom survives the recall election

The recall is on track to fail, sparing the state from more than a year of political chaos.

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Five questions for Joe Judge after another Giants disaster
If Dave Gettleman and/or John Mara want to dig past the end result -- a 38-11 defeat to the Rams at MetLife Stadium on Sunday that buried the Giants before Halloween has arrived -- and study the process that brought them here, what argument can Joe Judge make?
Ex-Patriots QB Cam Newton says he's received COVID-19 vaccine: 'I still want to play football'
Former Patriots QB Cam Newton says he has received the COVID-19 vaccine and want to return to the NFL.
Bill Clinton discharged from hospital after treatment for infection
"On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress," Dr. Alpesh Amin, who oversaw doctors treating Mr. Clinton, said.
Subway Sign Declares 'No One Wants a Job' Amid Labor Crisis Gripping America
The U.S. is still missing around 4.3 million workers, and the service industry in particular is struggling with low staff numbers.
Bidens seen violating DC’s indoor mask mandate
President Joe Biden could be seen carrying his mask in both hands as he left the pricey seafood establishment overlooking the Potomac River.
1st-ever winners of Prince William's "Earthshot Prize" announced
Award conceived by the British royal is a way to recognize and boost people hatching innovative solutions to the environmental crises facing our planet.
How to Save America's Retirement Dream | Opinion
In an era when attracting and retaining talent is so important, but also so challenging, the companies with the best retirement benefits might also become the ones with the best talent.
Drug lord Pablo Escobar smuggled hippos into Colombia. Officials are now sterilizing the invasive species.
Colombian wildlife officials have struggled to deal with the hippos the cocaine kingpin smuggled into his private zoo more than 30 years ago.
Traveling to South Africa during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go
If you're planning to travel to South Africa, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prosecutors expected to close case against Lev Parnas this week
Federal prosecutors in New York are expected to rest their campaign finance case against Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas this week.
Foxconn Unveils Prototypes in Push to Produce Electric Cars
The company known for making iPhones presented three electric vehicles that can serve as a basis for working with car companies.
8 'Squid Game' Halloween Costumes That'll Arrive in Time for Spooky Season
Here are some costumes inspired by "Squid Game," the hit Netflix series, including the iconic player tracksuits and more.
Popular singer, TikTok star is robbed at gunpoint in San Francisco: 'Peeing my pants'
TikTok star Clinton Kane said he was visiting San Francisco to record an upcoming film project and was robbed at gunpoint in the city.
Opinion: Mighty Dodgers are reeling, frustrated after two walk-off NLCS wins for the Braves
The mighty Dodgers, with 106 wins during the regular season, are now down 2-0 to the Braves in the NLCS ... with frustration growing.
2 found dead after suspect slashes throat of Arkansas officer
The responding officer discovered Christofer Conner beating a 15-year-old boy in the face and head with a rock, police said.
Dog the Bounty Hunter Could 'Sabotage' Brian Laundrie Search, Says Ex FBI Agent
The reality television star—real name Duane Chapman—had been leading a high-profile search for the 23-year-old fugitive.
Prince Andrew's Rape Lawsuit Will Be Axed Over Past Settlement, Alan Dershowitz Says
Prince Andrew and Alan Dershowitz were both accused of Jeffrey Epstein-related sexual abuse but allegations against the attorney were dropped.
Miami school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days to protect others, citing discredited info
Centner Academy, a private school in Miami, has spread debunked information about the coronavirus vaccine.
Britain has a new tennis star: Meet Cameron Norrie
It's been quite the few months for British tennis -- you've been introduced to Emma Raducanu, now prepare for Cameron Norrie.
Donald Trump Asks Supporters for $45 Each to Help 'Solve the Election Fraud'
An email sent on behalf of Trump attacked "the lying Left," and insisted the ex-president was cheated. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020.
The 60/40 Portfolio Isn’t Dead, Just More Expensive
Split your investments any way you like, just be ready to pay a lot more to find safety in this market.
How Erdogan’s Unorthodox Views Rattle Turkish Markets
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t like it when the country’s banks charge people relatively heavily to borrow money. That alone doesn’t make him unusual for a politician, given that cheap money can garner electoral support. What makes Erdogan extraordinary is his unorthodox argument for low interest rates and his determination to bring them about by wresting control of monetary policy from theoretically independent central bankers.
Australian police search for 4-year-old girl missing from tent on camping trip
Police are searching for a 4-year-old girl who went missing from a campsite in Western Australia on Saturday.
Illinois mother allegedly shoots man dead for refusing to kiss her
An Illinois mother of three shot a man dead after he — and his girlfriend — refused to kiss her, authorities said.
Tipper Gore: 25 years after the Mental Health Parity Act, we have more work to do
Mental health care is health care, plain and simple. This month we marked World Mental Health Day, an important opportunity to redouble our commitment.
Despite promises to lift some Trump sanctions, Biden leaves Cuba in deep freeze
Despite campaign promises on Cuba, President Biden has not opened paths on the remittances and travel some say would most help islanders.
Newt Gingrich: Big Government Socialism isn't 'free' – all programs taxpayer-funded, meaning YOU pay for them
The Big Government Socialists who have taken over the Democratic Party love to talk about "free" programs. Don’t fall for it.
Western US facing snow, cooler air and rain this week
The West is going to get active this week with a couple of systems moving in from the Pacific, bringing cooler air, rain along the coast and snow in the higher elevations.
Lockdowns and Mandates Are Fueling Stagflation | Opinion
Inflation is upon us. Growth expectations are falling. Markets are worried about Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.
No Clear Contenders In 2024 | Opinion
Looking ahead to the presidential election of 2024, it's much easier to compile a list of possible contenders who can't win the grand prize than it is to name those who could.
The prospect of a speedy real estate deal compounds some Surfside families’ grief
A Dubai-based developer has submitted a $120 million bid to buy the Florida property where Champlain Towers South collapsed in June.
How DJ Heat would spend a perfect day in D.C.
Nicole Mosley is the official DJ for the Washington Wizards and Mystics.
Aaron Rodgers claimed he owns the Bears. The numbers back him up.
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I talked with John Eastman about his plans. He’s not done with 2020 just yet.
With Donald Trump out of office, it's tempting to write off John Eastman. But if history is any guide, the conservative lawyer behind the Jan. 6 memo won't go away quietly.
It Didn’t Have to Be This Way
Illustration by Rodrigo Corral. Sources: Hugh Sitton / Getty; Been There YB / Shutterstock Many years ago, when I was a junior professor at Yale, I cold-called a colleague in the anthropology department for assistance with a project I was working on. I didn’t know anything about the guy; I just selected him because he was young, and therefore, I figured, more likely to agree to talk.Five minutes into our lunch, I realized that I was in the presence of a genius. Not an extremely intelligent person—a genius. There’s a qualitative difference. The individual across the table seemed to belong to a different order of being from me, like a visitor from a higher dimension. I had never experienced anything like it before. I quickly went from trying to keep up with him, to hanging on for dear life, to simply sitting there in wonder.That person was David Graeber. In the 20 years after our lunch, he published two books; was let go by Yale despite a stellar record (a move universally attributed to his radical politics); published two more books; got a job at Goldsmiths, University of London; published four more books, including Debt: The First 5,000 Years, a magisterial revisionary history of human society from Sumer to the present; got a job at the London School of Economics; published two more books and co-wrote a third; and established himself not only as among the foremost social thinkers of our time—blazingly original, stunningly wide-ranging, impossibly well read—but also as an organizer and intellectual leader of the activist left on both sides of the Atlantic, credited, among other things, with helping launch the Occupy movement and coin its slogan, “We are the 99 percent.”On September 2, 2020, at the age of 59, David Graeber died of necrotizing pancreatitis while on vacation in Venice. The news hit me like a blow. How many books have we lost, I thought, that will never get written now? How many insights, how much wisdom, will remain forever unexpressed? The appearance of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity is thus bittersweet, at once a final, unexpected gift and a reminder of what might have been. In his foreword, Graeber’s co-author, David Wengrow, an archaeologist at University College London, mentions that the two had planned no fewer than three sequels.And what a gift it is, no less ambitious a project than its subtitle claims. The Dawn of Everything is written against the conventional account of human social history as first developed by Hobbes and Rousseau; elaborated by subsequent thinkers; popularized today by the likes of Jared Diamond, Yuval Noah Harari, and Steven Pinker; and accepted more or less universally. The story goes like this. Once upon a time, human beings lived in small, egalitarian bands of hunter-gatherers (the so-called state of nature). Then came the invention of agriculture, which led to surplus production and thus to population growth as well as private property. Bands swelled to tribes, and increasing scale required increasing organization: stratification, specialization; chiefs, warriors, holy men.Eventually, cities emerged, and with them, civilization—literacy, philosophy, astronomy; hierarchies of wealth, status, and power; the first kingdoms and empires. Flash forward a few thousand years, and with science, capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution, we witness the creation of the modern bureaucratic state. The story is linear (the stages are followed in order, with no going back), uniform (they are followed the same way everywhere), progressive (the stages are “stages” in the first place, leading from lower to higher, more primitive to more sophisticated), deterministic (development is driven by technology, not human choice), and teleological (the process culminates in us).It is also, according to Graeber and Wengrow, completely wrong. Drawing on a wealth of recent archaeological discoveries that span the globe, as well as deep reading in often neglected historical sources (their bibliography runs to 63 pages), the two dismantle not only every element of the received account but also the assumptions that it rests on. Yes, we’ve had bands, tribes, cities, and states; agriculture, inequality, and bureaucracy, but what each of these were, how they developed, and how we got from one to the next—all this and more, the authors comprehensively rewrite. More important, they demolish the idea that human beings are passive objects of material forces, moving helplessly along a technological conveyor belt that takes us from the Serengeti to the DMV. We’ve had choices, they show, and we’ve made them. Graeber and Wengrow offer a history of the past 30,000 years that is not only wildly different from anything we’re used to, but also far more interesting: textured, surprising, paradoxical, inspiring.The bulk of the book (which weighs in at more than 500 pages) takes us from the Ice Age to the early states (Egypt, China, Mexico, Peru). In fact, it starts by glancing back before the Ice Age to the dawn of the species. Homo sapiens developed in Africa, but it did so across the continent, from Morocco to the Cape, not just in the eastern savannas, and in a great variety of regional forms that only later coalesced into modern humans. There was no anthropological Garden of Eden, in other words—no Tanzanian plain inhabited by “mitochondrial Eve” and her offspring. As for the apparent delay between our biological emergence, and therefore the emergence of our cognitive capacity for culture, and the actual development of culture—a gap of many tens of thousands of years—that, the authors tell us, is an illusion. The more we look, especially in Africa (rather than mainly in Europe, where humans showed up relatively late), the older the evidence we find of complex symbolic behavior.That evidence and more—from the Ice Age, from later Eurasian and Native North American groups—demonstrate, according to Graeber and Wengrow, that hunter-gatherer societies were far more complex, and more varied, than we have imagined. The authors introduce us to sumptuous Ice Age burials (the beadwork at one site alone is thought to have required 10,000 hours of work), as well as to monumental architectural sites like Göbekli Tepe, in modern Turkey, which dates from about 9000 B.C. (at least 6,000 years before Stonehenge) and features intricate carvings of wild beasts. They tell us of Poverty Point, a set of massive, symmetrical earthworks erected in Louisiana around 1600 B.C., a “hunter-gatherer metropolis the size of a Mesopotamian city-state.” They describe an indigenous Amazonian society that shifted seasonally between two entirely different forms of social organization (small, authoritarian nomadic bands during the dry months; large, consensual horticultural settlements during the rainy season). They speak of the kingdom of Calusa, a monarchy of hunter-gatherers the Spanish found when they arrived in Florida. All of these scenarios are unthinkable within the conventional narrative.The overriding point is that hunter-gatherers made choices—conscious, deliberate, collective—about the ways that they wanted to organize their societies: to apportion work, dispose of wealth, distribute power. In other words, they practiced politics. Some of them experimented with agriculture and decided that it wasn’t worth the cost. Others looked at their neighbors and determined to live as differently as possible—a process that Graeber and Wengrow describe in detail with respect to the Indigenous peoples of Northern California, “puritans” who idealized thrift, simplicity, money, and work, in contrast to the ostentatious slaveholding chieftains of the Pacific Northwest. None of these groups, as far as we have reason to believe, resembled the simple savages of popular imagination, unselfconscious innocents who dwelt within a kind of eternal present or cyclical dreamtime, waiting for the Western hand to wake them up and fling them into history.The authors carry this perspective forward to the ages that saw the emergence of farming, of cities, and of kings. In the locations where it first developed, about 10,000 years ago, agriculture did not take over all at once, uniformly and inexorably. (It also didn’t start in only a handful of centers—Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Mesoamerica, Peru, the same places where empires would first appear—but more like 15 or 20.) Early farming was typically flood-retreat farming, conducted seasonally in river valleys and wetlands, a process that is much less labor-intensive than the more familiar kind and does not conduce to the development of private property. It was also what the authors call “play farming”: farming as merely one element within a mix of food-producing activities that might include hunting, herding, foraging, and horticulture.Settlements, in other words, preceded agriculture—not, as we’ve thought, the reverse. What’s more, it took some 3,000 years for the Fertile Crescent to go from the first cultivation of wild grains to the completion of the domestication process—about 10 times as long as necessary, recent analyses have shown, had biological considerations been the only ones. Early farming embodied what Graeber and Wengrow call “the ecology of freedom”: the freedom to move in and out of farming, to avoid getting trapped by its demands or endangered by the ecological fragility that it entails.[From the December 2020 issue: The next decade could be even worse]The authors write their chapters on cities against the idea that large populations need layers of bureaucracy to govern them—that scale leads inevitably to political inequality. Many early cities, places with thousands of people, show no sign of centralized administration: no palaces, no communal storage facilities, no evident distinctions of rank or wealth. This is the case with what may be the earliest cities of all, Ukrainian sites like Taljanky, which were discovered only in the 1970s and which date from as early as roughly 4100 B.C., hundreds of years before Uruk, the oldest known city in Mesopotamia. Even in that “land of kings,” urbanism antedated monarchy by centuries. And even after kings arose, “popular councils and citizen assemblies,” Graeber and Wengrow write, “were stable features of government,” with real power and autonomy. Despite what we like to believe, democratic institutions did not begin just once, millennia later, in Athens.If anything, aristocracy emerged in smaller settlements, the warrior societies that flourished in the highlands of the Levant and elsewhere, and that are known to us from epic poetry—a form of existence that remained in tension with agricultural states throughout the history of Eurasia, from Homer to the Mongols and beyond. But the authors’ most compelling instance of urban egalitarianism is undoubtedly Teotihuacan, a Mesoamerican city that rivaled imperial Rome, its contemporary, for size and magnificence. After sliding toward authoritarianism, its people abruptly changed course, abandoning monument-building and human sacrifice for the construction of high-quality public housing. “Many citizens,” the authors write, “enjoyed a standard of living that is rarely achieved across such a wide sector of urban society in any period of urban history, including our own.”And so we arrive at the state, with its structures of central authority, exemplified variously by large-scale kingdoms, by empires, by modern republics—supposedly the climax form, to borrow a term from ecology, of human social organization. What is the state? the authors ask. Not a single stable package that’s persisted all the way from pharaonic Egypt to today, but a shifting combination of, as they enumerate them, the three elementary forms of domination: control of violence (sovereignty), control of information (bureaucracy), and personal charisma (manifested, for example, in electoral politics). Some states have displayed just two, some only one—which means the union of all three, as in the modern state, is not inevitable (and may indeed, with the rise of planetary bureaucracies like the World Trade Organization, be already decomposing). More to the point, the state itself may not be inevitable. For most of the past 5,000 years, the authors write, kingdoms and empires were “exceptional islands of political hierarchy, surrounded by much larger territories whose inhabitants … systematically avoided fixed, overarching systems of authority.”Is “civilization” worth it, the authors want to know, if civilization—ancient Egypt, the Aztecs, imperial Rome, the modern regime of bureaucratic capitalism enforced by state violence—means the loss of what they see as our three basic freedoms: the freedom to disobey, the freedom to go somewhere else, and the freedom to create new social arrangements? Or does civilization rather mean “mutual aid, social co-operation, civic activism, hospitality [and] simply caring for others”?These are questions that Graeber, a committed anarchist—an exponent not of anarchy but of anarchism, the idea that people can get along perfectly well without governments—asked throughout his career. The Dawn of Everything is framed by an account of what the authors call the “indigenous critique.” In a remarkable chapter, they describe the encounter between early French arrivals in North America, primarily Jesuit missionaries, and a series of Native intellectuals—individuals who had inherited a long tradition of political conflict and debate and who had thought deeply and spoke incisively on such matters as “generosity, sociability, material wealth, crime, punishment and liberty.”The Indigenous critique, as articulated by these figures in conversation with their French interlocutors, amounted to a wholesale condemnation of French—and, by extension, European—society: its incessant competition, its paucity of kindness and mutual care, its religious dogmatism and irrationalism, and most of all, its horrific inequality and lack of freedom. The authors persuasively argue that Indigenous ideas, carried back and publicized in Europe, went on to inspire the Enlightenment (the ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy, they note, had theretofore been all but absent from the Western philosophical tradition). They go further, making the case that the conventional account of human history as a saga of material progress was developed in reaction to the Indigenous critique in order to salvage the honor of the West. We’re richer, went the logic, so we’re better. The authors ask us to rethink what better might actually mean.The Dawn of Everything is not a brief for anarchism, though anarchist values—antiauthoritarianism, participatory democracy, small-c communism—are everywhere implicit in it. Above all, it is a brief for possibility, which was, for Graeber, perhaps the highest value of all. The book is something of a glorious mess, full of fascinating digressions, open questions, and missing pieces. It aims to replace the dominant grand narrative of history not with another of its own devising, but with the outline of a picture, only just becoming visible, of a human past replete with political experiment and creativity.“How did we get stuck?” the authors ask—stuck, that is, in a world of “war, greed, exploitation [and] systematic indifference to others’ suffering”? It’s a pretty good question. “If something did go terribly wrong in human history,” they write, “then perhaps it began to go wrong precisely when people started losing that freedom to imagine and enact other forms of social existence.” It isn’t clear to me how many possibilities are left us now, in a world of polities whose populations number in the tens or hundreds of millions. But stuck we certainly are.This article appears in the November 2021 print edition with the headline “It Didn’t Have to Be This Way.” When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.
Award-winning African activists promote a better life for children
Kakenya Ntaiya, a former Top 10 CNN Hero, continues her mission of educating Kenyan girls and saving them from early marriage. In Cameroon, Achaleke Christian Leke is combating violence with his "Spread Love" campaign in schools and prisons.
Candace Owens Calls Pete Buttigieg Paternity Leave 'Sickeningly Pathetic'
Candace Owens signed off her controversial tweet with the hashtag #BringBackManlyMen.
This Kenyan activist says her CNN Hero award helped reduce early marriages in her community
Kakenya Ntaiya was honored as a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2013 for her work in challenging traditions and empowering girls through education.
BRCA Breast Cancer Gene Explained As Kayleigh McEnany Details Double Mastectomy
President Donald Trump's former press secretary has written about how a family history of breast cancer lead her to have the procedure.
90-pound beagle sees incredible weight loss
This dog’s 58-pound weight loss journey is worth howling over. When an obese beagle was rescued from a shelter in Phoenix, Arizona, animal advocate Erin McManis nursed him back to a healthy size through diet and exercise. It took two years to get Wolfgang from 90 pounds to a trim 32.
Two men die in separate weekend crashes in Northern Virginia
Speed was considered a factor in both crashes.
Botswana welder aims to inspire with 9-meter-tall robot
Kabelo Julius Morokotso turns metal scraps into useful objects, like gates and trailers. But he's best known for his massive robot, Kajumo, which he hopes will spark innovation in his country.
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Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington to mark 10th anniversary with gala, ceremony
The Memorial Foundation, which built the memorial on the national mall, is hosting a gala and a dedication celebration this week.       
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Man, 68, dies in house fire in Maryland
The blaze broke out at a home in the Lanham area.
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What If mRNA Vaccines Could Cure Cancer?
Two years ago, approximately nobody on Earth had ever heard of mRNA vaccines. This was for the very good reason that no country had every authorized one. As a scientific experiment, synthetic mRNA was more than 40 years old. As a product, it had yet to be born.Last year, mRNA technology powered the two fastest vaccine developments in history. Moderna famously prepared its COVID-vaccine recipe in about 48 hours. And then there’s BioNTech, a German biotech firm that originally partnered with Pfizer to develop flu therapies but moved quickly to produce its own shot for the new disease. Within 24 hours of the genetic sequencing of the coronavirus, BioNTech had built eight potential vaccine candidates. The company eventually tested more than 20. One of them has now been administered more than 1 billion times around the world—including more than 200 million doses in the United States alone.[Derek Thompson: How mRNA technology could change the world ]Messenger ribonucleic acid—or mRNA—is a tiny molecule that instructs our cells to make proteins that keep us alive. Synthetic-mRNA technology, which powers the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, sends specialized instructions to our cells to manufacture specific proteins: in this case, the spike protein that encircles the coronavirus. Our immune system trains itself against these harmless spike proteins so that later, if we confront the real coronavirus, our bodies are primed to destroy it. BioNTech’s founders, the husband-and-wife team of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, compare this to displaying a Wanted poster of an outlaw to our immune system, so that he can be swiftly eliminated when he shows his face.The fact that mRNA technology had never delivered an authorized therapy before the coronavirus pandemic could tell us one of two things. Perhaps synthetic mRNA is like a miraculous key that humankind pulled out of our pockets in this pandemic, but it was so perfectly shaped for the coronavirus that we shouldn’t expect it to unlock other scientific mysteries any time soon.Or perhaps mRNA is merely in the first chapter of a more extraordinary story. This month, BioNTech announced that it had initiated Phase 2 trials of personalized cancer vaccines for patients with colorectal cancer. It is working on other personalized cancer vaccines and exploring possible therapies for malaria using a version of the mRNA technology that had its breakout moment in 2020.Last week, I spoke with Şahin and Türeci about the history of their COVID vaccine and the promise of mRNA. Our conversation left me feeling optimistic about the future of biotechnology, humbled by the extraordinary challenge of commandeering novel technology to eliminate complex diseases, and deeply fortunate that mRNA tech emerged at the perfect moment in the pandemic. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.Derek Thompson: BioNTech was founded in 2008 to focus on cancer therapies. How did you wind your way to mRNA technology?Uğur Şahin: In the early 1990s, we were both cancer physicians working in parallel on taking care of cancer patients by day and working in labs in the evening. At the time, we could only offer chemotherapy and radiation, and very often we had to tell our patients there were no more options for further treatment. But in the lab, we were seeing the promise of new immunology treatments. There was a clear gap between what we could offer patients, on the one hand, and the emerging science, on the other hand. We wanted to overcome this gap.Özlem Türeci: In the late 1990s, we became interested in mRNA and its potential for vaccination. You could essentially present to our immune system the blueprint of a wanted foe, in this case the cancer and its specific molecules. Then you could deliver instructions to act upon that wanted poster and destroy the foe.We thought mRNA had huge potential but also many flaws. In the late 1990s, its potency was very low. There was very little effect on the immune system. So that was our research focus for 30 years. Today’s COVID-19 vaccine uses just 30 micrograms of mRNA. That is a tiny amount of mRNA to activate the immune system of the whole body. It’s almost magic to generate billions of immune cells from such a small amount of mRNA.Thompson: What did you learn that was so special about mRNA technology?Türeci: Through years of research, we learned we can treat infectious diseases with mRNA by showing our immune system a wanted poster of a foe—like the spike protein on the coronavirus—and instructing the immune system to target that outlaw for destruction. We’ve also learned that, in addition to showing the wanted poster, we can also modify the message that we send to the body. It’s possible that we can treat autoimmune diseases with mRNA by sending a message that tells our cells to do nothing when they see a certain protein.[Read: The mRNA vaccines are looking better and better]Thompson: Moderna has a very famous origin story for its COVID-19 vaccine, which is that it finalized the vaccine recipe in 48 hours. Did you design your vaccine in 48 hours too?Şahin: Actually, we did it in less than 48 hours! In 24 hours, we generated the genetic sequence of the first eight vaccine candidates.Thompson: Why make eight different vaccines?Şahin: When we started the project, this was a new virus without any proven vaccine. So it was not clear what was the best molecule to target. From the beginning, Moderna bet on the full spike protein. But at that time, it wasn’t obvious to us that targeting the spike protein was the best. So we developed one vaccine to target the spike and other vaccines to target other parts of the virus.We ultimately tested about 20 vaccine candidates on mice. We injected animals and varied the dose to understand which vaccines provided the strongest antibody response and T-cell response and protein-antigen production in the mice. Then we took the four most successful candidates to Phase 1 trials. Those Phase 1 trials told us the single vaccine that worked the best. That’s the final vaccine that showed more than 90 percent efficacy in Phase 3 trials and was authorized by the FDA.Thompson: Obviously, mRNA’s success was a wonderful surprise. But I think it’s underrated just how surprising it really was. It’s doubly surprising to me not only that this technology worked but that it crushed all these land-speed records for vaccine development with extraordinary effectiveness. That mRNA technology was so well suited for this pandemic seems quite wonderful to the point of being almost miraculous. How do you explain why this technology worked so well for this foe?Şahin: Nobody has ever asked us the question like that before. I think it may be the mother of all questions. Before corona, there was Ebola, and a different vaccine technology that was viral-vector-based was sufficient. [Editor’s note: Viral-vector vaccines, such as the Johnson & Johnson shot, use a harmless version of an unrelated virus to deliver information that teaches cells to produce an antigen, such as the spike protein, that the immune system learns to neutralize.] Ebola was low-hanging fruit for viral-vector-vaccine technology.The coronavirus is a very different virus. It has these spike proteins that bind very strongly to the receptors [of our cells]. It turned out that mRNA vaccines were particularly excellent for boosting the immune system’s response. So maybe the coronavirus was lower-hanging fruit for mRNA technology.Thompson: This is why it’s so important to fund different kinds of vaccine technology. Different tools work for different problems, and there’s no guarantee that mRNA will be the perfect tool for the next epidemic.I want to ask about the other mRNA vaccines you’re working on. Let’s start with malaria. This year, Yale researchers patented an RNA-based technology to vaccinate against malaria. Reuters reported that you plan to start clinical trials for a malaria vaccine by the end of next year. Why do you think mRNA is a good candidate for malaria?Şahin: Malaria is a field where scientists have been working for decades. This is a pathogen with many escape mechanisms that have eluded other vaccine technologies. Our strategy is to identify new molecular targets that other scientists have overlooked. We are now testing more than 40 malaria-vaccine candidates in preclinical settings. We believe that mRNA vaccines could, if developed properly, provide a lot of opportunities to prevent infection and disease.Thompson: I also read that you recently dosed your first patient in a 200-person trial of a new cancer vaccine. How do your cancer vaccines work?Türeci: We have two types of mRNA vaccines for cancer. First, we have our off-the-shelf vaccines, where we’ve identified molecular features of tumors that are shared by many patients. These are molecules that are broadly present in cancer cells but not in normal cells. By targeting these molecules, you can fight the cancer without getting collateral damage to healthy cells. Second, we have highly personalized vaccines. We identify cancer mutations that are unique to every patient. Every cancer patient has their own mutations, like a fingerprint. We biopsy the tumor, sequence it, and design a unique, individualized vaccine for each patient.For both types of therapies, we have shown, in early clinical trials, that they are safe and that the tumors shrink. We have moved our vaccine development into Phase 2 trials for melanoma and head and neck cancers. We have also started our treatment for individualized vaccines for high-risk colorectal cancer.Thompson: So you’re working on two types of cancer vaccines. Are they meant for different kinds of cancers?Şahin: For personalized vaccines, we’ve come to think that focusing on the stage after surgery might be best. After surgery to remove a tumor, about 60 percent of patients are cured. But 30 to 40 percent see regrowth of that tumor. Certain cancers, like lung and liver cancer, are particularly likely to relapse post-surgery. mRNA vaccines could be perfectly suited to block this recurrence by specifically targeting the molecules associated with regrowth and metastasis.Thompson: Given that vaccines historically have taken years to be developed, how fast can you reasonably produce an individualized cancer vaccine?Türeci: mRNA technology is fast enough that we can really accelerate this turnaround time. From tumor biopsy to delivery, we can do this in four to six weeks. Every production of an individualized vaccine is a race against that patient’s tumor.Thompson: How promising are the data so far?Şahin: We have hundreds of patients worldwide, and the data in the early trials are convincing. That’s why we’ve moved to Phase 2 trials. But it’s important to say that the Phase 2 stage is where we have to prove that our therapy beats the standard of care that the patient would otherwise get. It would only be scientifically sound to gauge the vaccines after this head-to-head comparison. We think we can make major advances in the next five years, but it really depends on what these Phase 2 studies show us.
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America’s Cash Glut
The economy is almost doing too well. But there are some problems.
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Freed murderer charged with killing missing mom in Florida
Sunrise police say Eric Pierson confessed to stabbing the single mother four times with a screwdriver on Sept. 25.
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'We know we're for real': What Cowboys learned about themselves in victory over Patriots
The Dallas Cowboys' explosive offense piled up yards to a point previously unseen against a Bill Belichick-coached team.       
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