The Download: Potential new covid treatments, and the crypto crash

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Covid-19 is far more likely to kill you if you’re old. One reason is that aged immune systems struggle to cope with infections and recover from them. So why not try drugs that make bodies young again? In a bid to treat the disease, scientists are now testing drugs that reverse the impacts of age on the body, rejuvenate the immune system and clear out aged, worn-out cells.

Some scientists avoid using the term “anti-aging” because of its snake oil connotations—but these drugs specifically target the biology of aging. It makes intuitive sense to use them to help older bodies fight back against any infection. However, covid is currently the most urgent given that it’s still hospitalizing and killing people—even in countries with high levels of immunity.

We badly need new ways to treat covid. Only a handful of effective treatments have been found, including antiviral, antibody, and steroid drugs—and these might not work as well against future variants. Anti-aging drugs could provide a solution. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Crypto’s meltdown has sent regulators into overdrive
But it might be too little and too late at this stage. (WSJ $)
+ MiamiCoin crypto lost 95% of its value after the state’s mayor endorsed it. (Quartz)
+ Crypto scammers are tricking even practiced crypto holders. (NBC

2 China is facing another deadly flood season
Climate change is causing heavy rains, leaving cities with little time to prepare. (Bloomberg $)
+ Sponge cities work with water, rather than trying to control it. (TR)

3 Elon Musk says the Twitter deal has reached an impasse
He says he won’t buy the company unless it can prove that bots account for less than 5% of its accounts. (FT $)
+ Musk hasn’t offered any insight into how he’d moderate the Buffalo shooting video. (The Verge)

4 The golden age of startups is over
Investors are becoming much pickier, which could lead to many companies going bust. (WSJ $)
+ And it looks like things are only going to get worse. (FT $)
+ Zoom is worth less now than it was pre-pandemic. (Quartz)
+ Co-working spaces are doing well though. (NYT $) 

5 Covid is getting really good at re-infecting us
People who caught the original omicron variant are reporting second infections with newer versions. (NYT $)
+ North Korea saysmore than a million people are ill with “fever.” (BBC)

 6 Abortion pills will play a major role in a post-Roe world
It’s unclear how pills shipped across state lines would be policed. (Wired $)
Activists are helping Texans get access to abortion pills online. (TR)

7 Virtual reality poker rooms are drawing in kids
Experts are concerned the immersive gameplay could make it even more addictive. (Bloomberg $)

8 It’s getting harder to protect CEOs from online harassment
Security specialists with political expertise are advising them on how to minimize threats. (FT $)
+ Geofencing tech knows where we’ve been, but using it in police investigations isn’t simple. (Slate $)

9 Lots of TikTok users are claiming they have synesthesia
But many synesthetes found it hard to convince others they had it in the first place. (Wired $)

10 Meet the men impersonating the women of OnlyFans
Building an online following is a full time job, and marketing agencies are only too happy to help. (NYT $)

Quote of the day

“We’re not all grim old ladies reading the Bible.”

—Sister Monica Clare, a nun, tells the New York Times why social media can be a useful tool in debunking common misconceptions about the sisterhood.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Black Mirror, Netflix’s thought-provoking, dystopian show, is returning for a sixth season.
+ In more exciting return news, Arctic Monkeys have almost finished their new album.
+ This disembodied robotic mouth reciting prayers is hard to forget.
+ The fact you have to cuddle baby manatees to feed them makes me love them even more.
+ A tiny village pub in Cornwall, England, took on Vogue magazine—and won.
+ I wonder if this lost delivery robot ever made it to its destination.
+ All hail Spam, the ultimate versatile meat in a tin. Here are four tasty-sounding recipes to make the most of it.

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