The Pulse: Jan. 10, 2022

According to The Weather Network, Dec. 11 was the last time the temperature in Edmonton rose above zero. It could finally get above freezing Monday evening, and the forecast high for Tuesday is 6 degrees! Despite the recent deep freeze, 2021 was a warm year for Edmonton. Edmonton Weather Nerdery reports there were 241 days with highs above average.

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Essentials

  • -1°C: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 1. Wind chill minus 20 in the morning. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • 504: On Jan. 7, Alberta reported 504 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including 64 in intensive care. Active cases reached an all-time high at 43,414. (details)

Protein chemist Hector Vega and CSO Arun Raturi in the Entos laboratory

Entos and Lilly sign agreement to research and develop new brain-disease therapies


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

Edmonton-based Entos Pharmaceuticals has signed an agreement with Eli Lilly, giving the American pharmaceutical company exclusive rights to Entos's Fusogenix PLV technology for $50 million now and up to $400 million in the future.

Lilly and Entos will use Fusogenix PLV, a nucleic acid delivery system, to research, develop, and commercialize new therapies for brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, dementia, or multiple sclerosis.

"(The system) was fully developed here," Entos CEO John Lewis told Taproot. "It'll be hopefully used in lifesaving medicines applied to people with devastating brain diseases around the world."

Lilly will provide the cargo, or genetic material, for the research. And while cargo has been a particular area of emphasis for scientists working in genetic medicine, Lewis explained that the delivery system to access targets in the central and peripheral nervous systems is the crucial component.

"Whenever we talked about RNA or gene editing, for example, they're always talking about the cargo ... and so we know we can do that," said Lewis. "But if you actually wanted to put it in humans and have it be a safe, effective, and redose-able drug, you need a platform like the Fusogenix platform or it's never going to work."

The Fusogenix PLV platform in particular was attractive to Lilly because "the current ways of delivering genetic medicines in the brain don't work very well," Lewis said.

"Nucleic acid-based therapies hold great promise in addressing the biologic cause of many serious diseases that have significant unmet medical need," said Andrew Adams, vice-president of Lilly Genetic Medicine, in a news release. "Overcoming barriers to the safe and effective delivery of such therapies to specific target cells is essential to realizing their potential."

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Headlines


By Mack Male Mack Male and Doug Johnson Doug Johnson

  • Unions representing local peace and transit officers are blaming the city and police for a "crime wave" on Edmonton transit. "Our transit peace officers experience a constant barrage of weapons-related and drug-related offences all day every day on the system," said Steve Bradshaw, president of the ATU Local 569, one of the unions. He suggested the problems stem from years of underfunding and a lack of support from police. A spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service said, "the suggestion that EPS officers are ignoring criminal activity is baseless."
  • City Manager Andre Corbould said the city's extreme weather response will end today after 27 days of activation. While he expressed "deep concern about the news that two Edmontonians experiencing homelessness were outside early Tuesday morning for several hours during the extreme cold," Corbould said that an internal review found all extreme weather protocols were followed. "It is clear they did not work for everyone," he added.
  • Students across the province return to in-person learning today. Edmonton Catholic Schools is upgrading its ventilation systems to use filters with MERV-13 efficiency ratings, while Edmonton Public Schools is still weighing its options.
  • The Edmonton Oilers placed five players and six support staff in COVID protocol on Saturday and added two more players on Sunday. Monday night's game against Ottawa has been rescheduled to Jan. 15 at 8pm.
  • After the federal government suggested that provinces will need to make the call about whether or not to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, Premier Jason Kenney said that Alberta will not be reopening the debate. "Alberta's legislature removed the power of mandatory vaccination from the Public Health Act last year and will not revisit that decision, period," Kenney tweeted Friday.
  • Alberta could see COVID-19 hospitalizations rise to nearly 1,000 in two weeks, according to the low scenario of the AHS COVID-19 early warning system. The high scenario would see more than 1,500 Albertans in hospital. According to provincial data, hospitalizations peaked on Sept. 27 at 868.
  • A leaked memo has revealed that Alberta Health Services is asking union and non-union nurses to volunteer for redeployment to various urgent roles, due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. The memo also stated that AHS will be increasing the number of staff on standby for pandemic-related care and clinical support.
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The lights of a frigid downtown from a snowy vantage point across the river

Coming up this week: Jan. 10-14, 2022


By Andy Trussler Andy Trussler

This week's calendar includes lessons about Antarctica and AI, professional development on business design and digital branding, and good eating in Chinatown:

Photo: Edmonton started the year off in a deep freeze, but warmer days are ahead. (Instagram/George Ensell)

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