CNN’s ‘Vital Signs’ explores the healing powers of venom-derived medicine

HONG KONG, Nov. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — This month on CNN’s ‘Vital Signs’, Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores the world of snake venom and toxin-derived medicine, and learns how some of nature’s deadliest creatures are helping to save lives. As we have seen with the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic when a virus jumped from animals to humans, understanding the relationship between the two is only going to become more critical.

CNN’s ‘Vital Signs’ explores the healing powers of venom-derived medicine

Deep in the heart of Vietnam, scientist and adventurer Zoltan Takacs is looking for what most of us would rather not find: the green pit viper snake. He explains how the venom from creatures like this is a goldmine for medicine. Dr. Gupta learns how Takacs and his partners created a toxin library, where researchers can see what toxins work best together and replicate them in a lab to create highly-selective treatments. 

CNN then speaks with world-renowned toxin biologist Professor Manjunatha Kini from the National University of Singapore, whose lab works to identify the individual molecules that make up any one venom. His research has helped him isolate and identify toxins which can be used to potentially develop drugs for various disorders.

CNN also hears from San Francisco-based geneticist Sekar Seshagiri, who reveals that obtaining the genetic blueprint of a snake is key to creating a defined anti-venom. Seshagiri and his partners accomplished what is now considered the most complete snake genome ever assembled. Dr. Gupta learns how this information could be used to create a specific anti-venom to treat snake bites, a significant health issue in many parts of the world.

Finally, ‘Vital Signs’ meets Dr. Sandeep Nathan from University of Chicago Medicine, who has been treating cardiology patients with venom-derived medication for years. Dr. Nathan discusses its use and its importance in the future of drug development.

Vital Signs trailer:    
Vital Signs images: 
Vital Signs microsite: 

Airtimes for 30-minute special:

Sunday, November 8 at 12:00am, 4:00am, 2:00pm and 7:00pm HKT
Monday, November 9 at 1:00am and 12:00pm HKT
Saturday, November 14 at 2:30pm HKT
Monday, November 16 at 5:30am HKT

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CNN’s Jake Tapper presses White House chief of staff after top Pence aides test positive for coronavirus

CNN anchor Jake Tapper grilled White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday, hours after it was revealed that top aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the coronavirus, a development that under CDC guidelines would call for Pence, who has been in close contact with them, to go into quarantine. But Pence is continuing to hit the campaign trail.

Jake Tapper, Mark Meadows are posing for a picture: CNN anchor Jake Tapper interviews White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. (Screenshot: Twitter/@CNNPolitics)

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CNN anchor Jake Tapper interviews White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. (Screenshot: Twitter/@CNNPolitics)

In a heated interview on “State of the Union,” Meadows insisted that Pence was “essential personnel” and therefore exempt from the guidelines. Pence hosts a Sunday campaign rally in North Carolina and on Monday is hosting one in Minnesota.

“CDC guidelines say that Vice President Pence should quarantine for 14 days,” Tapper said. 

“He’s not just campaigning,” Meadows insisted. “He’s working.”

At least four aides to Pence, including his chief of staff, Marc Short, have reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days. According to the New York Times, which cited anonymous sources, Meadows had sought to keep the White House from disclosing the latest outbreak. The news was released late Saturday night. On CNN, Meadows said he was concerned about the privacy of the infected staffers. 

Mike Pence et al. standing in front of a flag: Mike Pence delivers remarks at a Friday campaign rally at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, Pa. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

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Mike Pence delivers remarks at a Friday campaign rally at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, Pa. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

The revelation marks the second round of infections within the White House’s top ranks after many senior officials, including President Trump, who was hospitalized and given treatment for someone with severe symptoms, tested positive earlier this month.


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According to the latest tracking data from Johns Hopkins University, about 225,000 Americans have died so far from the virus. But Trump has repeatedly downplayed the danger from the virus ahead of the Nov. 3 election, insisting that the nation has “turned a corner” in the fight. 

Friday saw the highest number of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. since the outbreak began, which Trump, as he has for months, dismissed as an artifact of increased testing. But the percentage of positive tests has been increasing, along with hospitalizations.

Trump has held mass rallies in some of the hardest-hit states, including Wisconsin, where he campaigned Saturday night in Waukesha, and has continued to attack local governments for maintaining lockdown efforts.

On CNN, Meadows admitted the White House was no longer trying to “control” the virus. 

“We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation,” he said.

“Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?” Tapper pushed back. 

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