The surprising future of vaccine technology

We owe a lot to vaccines and the scientists that develop them. But we've only just touched the surface of what vaccines can do.

  • "Vaccines are the best thing science has ever given us," says Larry Brilliant, founding president and acting chairman of Skoll Global Threats. From smallpox, to Ebola, to polio, scientists have successful fought viruses and saved millions of lives. So what's next?
  • As Covaxx (formerly United Neuroscience) cofounder Lou Reese explains in this video, the issue with vaccines is that they don't work against "non-external threats." This is a problem, especially now when internal threats (things that cause cancers, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses) are killing people more than external threats like viruses.
  • The future of vaccine tech, which scientists are already working toward today, is developing safe vaccines to eradicate these destructive internal agents without harming our bodies in the process.


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The COVID-19 pandemic is causing an increase in relapses. Here are signs to look for.

Being aware of this issue is a big first step in helping vulnerable communities (such as those struggling with addiction) combat relapse during this pandemic.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash
  • Many mental health and addiction professionals are worried that the lockdown, quarantine and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a surge in relapses of individuals who are struggling with sobriety at this time.
  • Stress, loneliness, isolation, boredom and a lack of support for the addiction community are the biggest triggers for relapse right now.
  • However, being aware of these triggers and supporting those in your life struggling with addiction through the help of online platforms can be a way to combat relapses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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#6: How psychedelics work: Fire the conductor, let the orchestra play | Top 10 2019

Next up on the top 10 countdown, Big Think's sixth most popular video illustrates the mental fireworks of a psychedelic experience.

  • Big Think's #6 most popular video of 2019 explains the ego's "location" in the brain: It would be the default mode network, where much of your self-critical mind chatter happens. Taking psychedelics down-regulates this brain network.
  • Researchers describe the effect of psychedelics as "letting the brain off its leash", or firing the conductor to let the orchestra play. Without the default mode network acting as a dictator, areas of the brain that don't normally interact meet, producing phenomena like hallucinations and synesthesia.
  • An overactive ego may be what punishes those of us plagued with anxiety, addiction and mental health disorders. Psychedelics can have a beneficial effect by temporarily killing the ego, jogging the brain out of negative thinking patterns.
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Sexually transmitted disease rates are booming

A harrowing new report by the CDC should serve as a wake-up call.

Image source: MinDof/Shutterstock
  • STD rates have risen every year since 2013, with 2017 showing the largest increase.
  • Syphilis passed from mothers to babies is causing easily preventable infant deaths.
  • STDs are easy to cure so far — the key is getting regularly tested.
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Imprisonment: Doctor who illegally prescribed 500,000 doses of opioids to serve 40 years

Dr. Joel Smithers was recently sentenced to decades in prison for the numerous illegal prescriptions he gave out.

Image source: Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority/photofunny.net
  • According to law enforcement officials, every individual who visited Smithers' practice in Martinsville, Virginia, was given an opioid prescription.
  • Patients traveled hundreds of miles to visit his practice, where Smithers only accepted cash or credit cards and not insurance.
  • Smithers and similar doctors represent one part of the chain of responsible parties who contributed to the opioid epidemic.
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