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Voters Hitting Polls in 5 States for Primaries, Special Election; Scientists Find MRNA Vaccines Show Promise for Treating Cancer; More Than 100M People Under Heat Alerts in Eastern U.S.; Flooding Causes Major Damage at Yellowstone National Park. Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired June 14, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Will voters in South Carolina take revenge on two House Republicans who defied former President Trump? It is a key test for Trump's endorsement power as voters are going to the polls today in South Carolina and four other states.

We're on top of all the races. And with us is CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten.

Harry, let's start in South Carolina. What's at stake there?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, we're going to go right to the seventh congressional district in the great state of South Carolina.

Look, we got a pretty hot Republican primary here. Tom Rice is the incumbent. He voted to impeach Donald Trump, which Donald Trump not exactly a big fan of. So he's, in fact, backing Russell Fry.

Here's the key thing I keep pointing out as we do these segments. This is a southern primary. That means that you need to receive a majority of the vote to win outright tonight.

If a candidate leads even after tonight's vote but doesn't receive a majority, there will be a runoff on June 28th.

Now, of course, I'm a big fan of Double Mint Gun, wo we're going to get double the pleasure here.

We're going to go to South Carolina's first congressional district. It's another race where Trump has gotten involved.


Why? Because Nancy Mace, the incumbent, dared to certify the 2020 legitimate vote. So Donald Trump is backing the challenger, Katie Arrington.

Of course, Nancy Mace has a few endorsements of her own. She has been endorsed by Nikki Haley and Kevin McCarthy. So even though Trump is going in one direction, a lot of Republicans are sticking with Mace.

CABRERA: OK, well, I'll watch South Carolina.

There's also a lot of attention today on what happens in Nevada. Nevada being more or less a swing state in presidential years. And so a lot of focus on what today's primary could mean, even then looking ahead to the general.

ENTEN: Yes. I think that's exactly right. And that we really see it in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate there.

Donald Trump is backing Adam Laxalt, the former attorney general. But here's an interesting thing. Sam Brown has been coming up pretty strong. He was, in fact, endorse the by the Nevada GOP at the state convention.

But here's the key thing. It's not just about tonight who wins. It's also about the general election.

Keep in mind that this is a Democratically held Senate seat. One that Republicans will want to take advantage of in the fall, perhaps win there, take a Senate seat away from the Democrats.

And Joe Biden won in this state by just two percentage points in 2020. So it could be a very competitive race in the fall.

Speaking about Democrats -- because I don't want to leave them out and only talk about only the GOP.

Let's talk about the first congressional district. We have a pretty interesting Democratic primary there.

Dina Titus, the incumbent, she is backed by the culinary union, which is a powerful union there. But, in fact, her challenger is being backed by Bernie Sanders.

Titus was one of the earlier endorsements of Joe Biden so this is an interesting Sanders-versus-Biden matchup.

And keep in mind, again, when it comes to a general election, this is a more competitive district that went from Joe Biden, plus 26 points, to Joe Biden, plus nine.

So this is a district we could be looking at in the fall.

CABRERA: I don't want to forget it but it's got to be tight.

Tell us about Texas.

ENTEN: I don't want you to forget it. Special election there. This is an interesting race of Hispanic decline among Democrats in a Biden- plus-four district. We'll keep an eye out there.

If Democrats lose there, a divide, a real divide, a real loss among Hispanics among them.

CABRERA: OK, thank you so much as always, Harry Enten.

ENTEN: My pleasure.

CABRERA: Good to have you. He has his Cliff Notes.


CABRERA: He likes to have Cliff Notes on all of these elections.

OK. It's the most lethal form of cancer. But the fight against COVID may have led to a potential powerful treatment for pancreatic cancer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



CABRERA: It could be a game changer in the fight against pancreatic cancer. We first heard and we told you about messenger RNA vaccines, those mRNA vaccines when they helped turn the tide against COVID.

This is a type of vaccine created by both Pfizer and Moderna. Well, now researchers believe they have evidence that this same technology could potentially be used to treat cancer.

CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is joining us now.

Sanjay, this sounds so, so optimistic, so hopeful. Are we essentially talking about a possible vaccine to treat cancer?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Essentially, yes. That's what we're talking about here.

When you think about vaccines like we've seen for COVID, people are familiar with that. This, in some ways, Ana, would do the same thing. It would identify specific mutations in a cancer and allow the immune system then to basically deal with that cancer.

Let me give you a little bit of an idea how it works.


GUPTA (voice over): In December 2020, mRNA vaccines started changing the course of the pandemic.

At the same time, that same technology was possibly changing Barbara Brigham's life in an entirely different way.

BARBARA BRIGHAM, PANCREATIC CANCER PATIENT: He said, I just want you to know that you have pancreatic cancer.

MARQUARDT: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. And that motivates Dr. Vinod Balachandran at Memorial Sloan Kettering to find a cure for it.

DR. VINOD BALACHANDRAN, ONCOLOGIST, MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING: We really need new treatments for patients. Stay tuned.

Right now, the immunotherapies that are used to treat cancer patients, they only work in about 20 percent of patients. So, about 80 percent of the time the current immunotherapies are not very effective.

GUPTA: So, Dr. Balachandran teamed up with BioNTech. You may remember them as a developer of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Their goal, to begin trialing mRNA as a pancreatic cancer treatment.

BRIGHAM: I was willing to try whatever would prevent me from having a shorter life than I really wanted to have.

GUPTA: Cancer has challenged scientists for years, in part, because the cells continuously mutate, making them harder for the immune system to detect.

But that's exactly why BioNTech's co-founders, Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Ozlem Tureci, have been working with mRNA for decades to see if they could outsmart cancer.

(on camera): How do you know it is specific, really, to that cancer and not to healthy human cells in that particular patient's bod?

DR. OZLEM TURECI, CO-FOUNDER, BIONTECH: That was actually the last two decades which we invested to identify how we get the best targets, the best mutations, the best molecules to recognize cancer cells and distinguish them from normal cells.


GUPTA (voice-over): Remember how mRNA works in COVID-19 vaccines. It essentially gives our immune system detailed instructions to make a specific part of the virus so our immune system can then learn to recognize it and create antibodies against it.

Those instructions can then be tailored and tweaked quickly if the virus evolves. The idea is this could work in a similar way but for cancer.

BALACHANDRAN: The optimal technology to be able to custom-make a vaccine rapidly in real time, which is really important for our cancer patient who wants care, the best technology out there, we thought, was mRNA.

GUPTA: Let me explain how this worked for Barbara. Doctors first removed her tumor and a sample of it was flown almost 4,000 miles BioNTech's headquarters in Germany.

DR. UGUR SAHIN, CO-FOUNDER, BIONTECH: What we do is we sequence the tumor, the DNA from the tumor, and identify the mutations by comparing DNA from the tumor with the DNA from the blot (ph), because the blot (ph) is non-mutated and then you can see at that position, there is a mutation.

GUPTA: The next step involves using a computer algorithm to figure out which of those mutations should become targets for the vaccine, the ones that Barbara's immune system will recognize, and then deploy T- cells to fight against.

It took just about six weeks for Barbara's custom cancer treatment to be created. And once it made it back over the Atlantic, the first vaccine dose was infused into her blood.

That was December 15th, 2020, around the same time the mRNA vaccines for COVID became available.

Along with her standard chemo and immunotherapy, Barbara has received nine mRNA vaccinations, and she says everything is so far, so good.

BRIGHAM: I had one last immuno last September, of which I also had a CAT scan at that time and it was negative for pancreatic cancer, and everybody is celebrating.

But whatever time I had, it's given me more time to enjoy my grandchildren and my children and my life.


GUPTA: You know, so, Ana, I'm going to remind people they were working on the idea of mRNA for cancer even before COVID. They pivoted to working on COVID because of the pandemic. So they've been working on this for some time.

It's pretty remarkable when you think about pancreatic cancer, 90 percent of the patients don't survive the first two years.


GUPTA: So it's early days with this technology. Phase one was just a safety trial. But if these other phases pan out, it could be a new way of treating cancer.

CABRERA: It is incredible. I'm glad we had this report today. We all needed some good news.

Thank you, Sanjay. Great to have you here.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CABRERA: In the east, more than 100 million people are under heat alerts as temps are expected to reach triple digit highs.

Meanwhile, in the west, flooding has washed out roads and bridges and swept away entire buildings. This is all near Yellowstone National Park.






CABRERA: It's a dangerous combination, record-breaking heat and power outages leaving hundreds of thousands of people with no A.C. right now in sweltering parts of the country.

Meteorologist Tyler Mauldin has more on the extreme weather.

So nearly one-third of Americans are under a heat alert right now. We're talking record-breaking triple digits. Just how unusual is this, this time of year? It's dangerous, obviously.

TYLER MAULDIN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's extremely dangerous. I mean, we're in summer. However, this heat, this kind of heat that we're dealing with across the Midwest and the Ohio River Valley is unique even for the depths of summer.

Looking at the heat that we have going on. We have temperatures, air temperatures that are in the low to mid 90s. But then factor in the humidity and we're talking about the feels-like temperature in the low 100s. Some areas like Columbus getting up to 108.

This is the same area that saw the strongest severe thunderstorms push over just yesterday. Now we have more than half a million people -- half a million households without power. And that is a deadly combination for sure.

We have more storms on the way because of this area of high pressure that is both leading to the heat across the east coast but also leading to the storms, taking their track across the Midwest, down into the Ohio River Valley.

Also notice where that high pressure is located. It's located over the Tennessee Valley. And down here across the southeast, we're also looking at heat advisories, too.

These heat advisories and excessive heat warnings are issued not just because the air temperature but because of the humidity.

Your body's not allowed to cool off naturally the way it typically would, so therefore you get these heat alerts -- Ana?

CABRERA: Look at all that, just all red, all triple digits.

What about the flooding in Yellowstone? We've seen some of the crazy images out of there. Put it into perspective for us.

MAULDIN: Yes, so, this is something that portions of Yellowstone haven't seen in more than a hundred years or so.

You can see that video here. This is what it looks like from the sky. All the flooding, the water swelling up here.

Again, Yellowstone River -- this is a gauge just near Corwin Springs, Montana -- hasn't seen the flood waters get up this high since 1918. So extremely rare to see this kind of flooding in this area -- Ana?


CABRERA: It's all from that record snow melt, the rainfall there, such a crazy combination.

I know you're going to stay on top of it for us. Thank you, Tyler, for your reporting.

And, everybody, I hope you're staying safe at home wherever you are.

That does it for us today. Thank you so much for being here. We're back tomorrow, same time, same place. Until then, you can always join me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues right after this with Victor Blackwell.