Covid-19 Vaccine Immune Response Linked To Age

Covid-19 Vaccine Immune Response Linked To Age

Vera Leip, 88, receives a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine from Christine Philips, RN Florida Department of Health in Broward County, at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on December 16, 2020 in Pompano Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

OREGON CITY, Ore. — A new laboratory study from Oregon Health and Science University suggests that older people have fewer antibodies against the novel coronavirus.

The study titled “Age-Dependent Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 and P.1 Variant by Vaccine Immune Serum Samples” was published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Antibodies are blood proteins that are made by the immune system to protect against infection. They are vital players in protection against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.

“Our older populations are potentially more susceptible to the variants even if they are vaccinated,” Fikadu Tafesse, Ph.D., senior author, and assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine of the Oregon Health and Science University, said.

Tafesse and colleagues emphasized that even though they measured diminished antibody response in older people, the vaccine still appeared to be effective enough to prevent infection and severe illness in most people of all ages.

“The good news is that our vaccines are really strong,” Tafesse said.

However, with vaccine uptake slowing in Oregon and across the United States, researchers say their findings underscore the importance of promoting vaccinations in local communities.

Vaccinations reduce the spread of the virus and new and potentially more transmissible variants, especially for older people who appear to be more susceptible to breakthrough infections.

“The more people get vaccinated, the less the virus circulates,” Tafesse said.

“Older people aren’t entirely safe just because they’re vaccinated; the people around them really need to be vaccinated as well. At the end of the day, this study really means that everybody needs to be vaccinated to protect the community (sic).”

Researchers measured the immune response in the blood of 50 people two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19. They grouped participants into age groups and then exposed their blood serum in test tubes to the original “wild-type” SARS-CoV-2 virus and the P.1 variant (also known as gamma) that originated in Brazil.

The youngest group — all in their 20s — had a nearly seven-fold increase in antibody response than the oldest group of people between 70 and 82 years of age. The laboratory results reflected a clear linear progression from youngest to oldest: The younger a participant, the more robust the antibody response.

“Older people might be more susceptible to variants than younger individuals,” Tafesse said.

Marcel Curlin, Doctor of Medicine (MD), co-author and associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases) in the School of Medicine of the Oregon Health and Science University, says that the findings highlight the importance of vaccinating older people as well as others who may be more vulnerable to Covid-19.

“The vaccine still produces strong immune responses compared with natural infection in most older individuals, even if they are lower than their younger counterparts,” Curlin said.

“Vaccination in this group may make the difference between serious and mild disease, and likely reduces the chances of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to another person.”

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Nikita Nikhil)



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Covid: Has A Cure Bean Found In Japanese Food? 

Covid: Has A Cure Bean Found In Japanese Food? 

A person dines on a dish of natto; a traditional Japanese dish made from steamed and fermented soybeans, served with white rice in Mito, Japan. (Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

TOKYO — Japanese to the rescue! A new study reveals that a fermented soybean dish often served for breakfast in Japan may hold an answer to a modern problem: Covid-19.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications‘.

Natto, a breakfast dish in Japan, is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis, bacteria found in plants and in soil.

Long thought to contribute to longer, healthier lives across Japan — the country with the longest life expectancy on Earth and home to more than a quarter of the world’s population aged 65 years or older — natto was previously found to be a diet staple in those who were least likely to die from stroke or cardiac disease.

Now, researchers have found that extract made from the sticky, strong-smelling natto may inhibit the ability of the virus that causes Covid-19 to infect cells.

“Traditionally, Japanese people have assumed that natto is beneficial for their health,” said paper author Tetsuya Mizutani, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Research at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (CEPiR-TUAT).

“In recent years, research studies have revealed scientific evidence for this belief. In this study, we investigated natto’s antiviral effects on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1), which causes respiratory disease in cattle,” said Mizutani.

The researchers prepared two natto extracts from the food, one with heat and one without.

They applied the extracts to sets of lab-cultured cells from cattle and from humans. One set was infected with SARS-CoV-2, while the other set was infected with BHV-1.

When treated with the natto extract made without heat, both SARS-CoV-2 and BHV-1 lost the ability to infect cells. However, neither virus appeared to be affected by the heat-treated natto extract.

“We found what appears to be a protease or proteases — proteins that metabolize other proteins — in the natto extract directly digests the receptor-binding domain on the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2,” Mizutani said, noting that the protease appears to break down in the heat, losing the ability to digest proteins and letting the virus remain infectious.

The spike protein sits on the virus’s surface and binds to a receptor on host cells. With an inactive spike protein, SARS-CoV-2 cannot infect healthy cells. The researchers found a similar effect on BHV-1.

“We also confirmed that the natto extract has the same digestive effects on the receptor-binding domain proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 mutated strains, such as the Alpha variant,” Mizutani said.

While the results are promising, Mizutani said, he also cautioned that further studies are needed to identify the exact molecular mechanisms at work.

He also pointed out that the research does not provide any evidence of reduced viral infection simply by eating natto. Once the components are identified and their functions verified, the researchers plan to advance their work to clinical studies in animal models.

“Although there are vaccines for Covid-19, we do not know how effective they may be against every variant,” Mizutani said.

“It will also take time to vaccinate everyone, and there are still reports of breakthrough cases, so we need to make treatments for those who develop Covid-19.”

“This work may offer a big hint for such pharmaceutical design,” Mizutani said.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)



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Chemicals Found In Consumer Products Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk: Study

Chemicals Found In Consumer Products Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk: Study

A new study has shown that several common chemicals, including pesticides, ingredients in consumer products, food additives, and drinking water contaminants, could increase the risk of breast cancer. (Anna Shvets/Pexels)

WASHINGTON — Several common chemicals, including pesticides, ingredients in consumer products, food additives, and drinking water contaminants, could increase the risk of breast cancer, a new study reveals.

These chemicals cause cells in breast tissue to produce more of the hormones estrogen or progesterone.

The findings of the study appeared in the journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives.’

Every day, people are exposed to a variety of synthetic chemicals through the products they use or the food they eat. For many of these chemicals, the health effects are unknown.

However, this study has found the adverse effects of these chemicals and how they may increase the risk of breast cancer.

“The connection between estrogen and progesterone and breast cancer is well established,” said co-author Ruthann Rudel, a toxicologist and research director at Silent Spring Institute.

“So, we should be extremely cautious about chemicals in products that increase levels of these hormones in the body.”

For instance, in 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative study found combination hormone replacement therapy to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, women stopped taking the drugs, and incidence rates went down.

“Not surprisingly, one of the most common therapies for treating breast cancer is a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors,” said Rudel.

“It lowers the levels of estrogen in the body, depriving breast cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow.”

To identify these chemical risk factors, Rudel and Silent Spring scientist Bethsaida Cardona combed through data on more than 2000 chemicals generated by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ToxCast program.

ToxCast aims to improve scientists’ ability to predict whether a chemical will be harmful or not.

The program uses automated chemical screening technologies to expose living cells to chemicals and then examine the different biological changes they cause.

Reporting in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Rudel and Cardona identified 296 chemicals that were found to increase estradiol (a form of estrogen) or progesterone in cells in the laboratory.

Seventy-one chemicals were found to increase levels of both hormones.

The chemicals included ingredients in personal care products such as hair dye, chemical flame retardants in building materials and furnishings, and a number of pesticides.

The researchers don’t yet know how these chemicals are causing cells to produce more hormones.

“It could be that the chemicals are acting as aromatase activators, for instance, which would lead to higher levels of estrogen,” said Cardona.

“What we do know is that women are exposed to multiple chemicals from multiple sources on a daily basis and that these exposures add up.”

The researchers hope this study will be a wake-up call for regulators and manufacturers in how they test chemicals for safety.

For instance, current safety tests in animals fail to look at changes in hormone levels in the animal’s mammary glands in response to chemical exposure.

Although high throughput testing in cells has been used to identify chemicals that activate the estrogen receptor, mimicking estrogen, the testing has not been used to identify chemicals that increase estrogen or progesterone synthesis.

“This study shows that a number of chemicals currently in use have the ability to manipulate hormones known to adversely affect breast cancer risk,” said Sue Fenton, associate editor for the study and an expert in mammary gland development at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“Especially concerning is the number of chemicals that alter progesterone, the potential bad actor in hormone replacement therapy. Chemicals that elevate progesterone levels in the breast should be minimized,” said Fenton.

The researchers outlined a number of recommendations in their study for improving chemical safety testing to help identify potential breast carcinogens before they end up in products, and suggest finding ways to reduce people’s exposures, particularly during critical periods of development, such as during puberty or pregnancy when the breast undergoes important changes.

The project is part of Silent Spring Institute’s Safer Chemicals Program, which is developing new cost-effective ways of screening chemicals for their effects on the breast.

Knowledge generated by this effort will help government agencies regulate chemicals more effectively and assist companies in developing safer products.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)



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Chemicals Found In Consumer Products Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk: Study

Chemicals Found In Consumer Products Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk: Study

A new study has shown that several common chemicals, including pesticides, ingredients in consumer products, food additives, and drinking water contaminants, could increase the risk of breast cancer. (Anna Shvets/Pexels)

WASHINGTON — Several common chemicals, including pesticides, ingredients in consumer products, food additives, and drinking water contaminants, could increase the risk of breast cancer, a new study reveals.

These chemicals cause cells in breast tissue to produce more of the hormones estrogen or progesterone.

The findings of the study appeared in the journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives.’

Every day, people are exposed to a variety of synthetic chemicals through the products they use or the food they eat. For many of these chemicals, the health effects are unknown.

However, this study has found the adverse effects of these chemicals and how they may increase the risk of breast cancer.

“The connection between estrogen and progesterone and breast cancer is well established,” said co-author Ruthann Rudel, a toxicologist and research director at Silent Spring Institute.

“So, we should be extremely cautious about chemicals in products that increase levels of these hormones in the body.”

For instance, in 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative study found combination hormone replacement therapy to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, women stopped taking the drugs, and incidence rates went down.

“Not surprisingly, one of the most common therapies for treating breast cancer is a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors,” said Rudel.

“It lowers the levels of estrogen in the body, depriving breast cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow.”

To identify these chemical risk factors, Rudel and Silent Spring scientist Bethsaida Cardona combed through data on more than 2000 chemicals generated by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ToxCast program.

ToxCast aims to improve scientists’ ability to predict whether a chemical will be harmful or not.

The program uses automated chemical screening technologies to expose living cells to chemicals and then examine the different biological changes they cause.

Reporting in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Rudel and Cardona identified 296 chemicals that were found to increase estradiol (a form of estrogen) or progesterone in cells in the laboratory.

Seventy-one chemicals were found to increase levels of both hormones.

The chemicals included ingredients in personal care products such as hair dye, chemical flame retardants in building materials and furnishings, and a number of pesticides.

The researchers don’t yet know how these chemicals are causing cells to produce more hormones.

“It could be that the chemicals are acting as aromatase activators, for instance, which would lead to higher levels of estrogen,” said Cardona.

“What we do know is that women are exposed to multiple chemicals from multiple sources on a daily basis and that these exposures add up.”

The researchers hope this study will be a wake-up call for regulators and manufacturers in how they test chemicals for safety.

For instance, current safety tests in animals fail to look at changes in hormone levels in the animal’s mammary glands in response to chemical exposure.

Although high throughput testing in cells has been used to identify chemicals that activate the estrogen receptor, mimicking estrogen, the testing has not been used to identify chemicals that increase estrogen or progesterone synthesis.

“This study shows that a number of chemicals currently in use have the ability to manipulate hormones known to adversely affect breast cancer risk,” said Sue Fenton, associate editor for the study and an expert in mammary gland development at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“Especially concerning is the number of chemicals that alter progesterone, the potential bad actor in hormone replacement therapy. Chemicals that elevate progesterone levels in the breast should be minimized,” said Fenton.

The researchers outlined a number of recommendations in their study for improving chemical safety testing to help identify potential breast carcinogens before they end up in products, and suggest finding ways to reduce people’s exposures, particularly during critical periods of development, such as during puberty or pregnancy when the breast undergoes important changes.

The project is part of Silent Spring Institute’s Safer Chemicals Program, which is developing new cost-effective ways of screening chemicals for their effects on the breast.

Knowledge generated by this effort will help government agencies regulate chemicals more effectively and assist companies in developing safer products.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)



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India Begins Contact Tracing After First Bird Flu Death In Delhi

India Begins Contact Tracing After First Bird Flu Death In Delhi

NEW DELHI — A probe launched into India’s first death due to bird flu has revealed that the close contacts of the deceased boy are not showing any symptoms of the infection.

The report was submitted by India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) after an investigation into the case.

India reported its first death due to bird flu on July 12. The 11-year-old deceased boy succumbed to H5N1 at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi, where he was undergoing treatment.

Bird flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that rarely infects humans. Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds or H5N1-contaminated environments.

Following his death, the National Centre for Disease Control launched a probe into contact tracing for the infection and issued a report, which said that none of the close contacts of the deceased have so far displayed any symptoms of the disease.

The child was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in the pediatrics department of All India Institute Of Medical Science in June 2021. He was admitted to the hospital on July 2 and died on July 12, as per a press release issued by the Union Health Ministry.

The child developed symptoms of fever, cough, coryza, and breathing difficulty, soon after induction therapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

“He was diagnosed with Acute myeloid leukemia with febrile neutropenia, pneumonia, and shock, which progressed to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The boy suffered from multi-organ dysfunction and died on July 12, 2021,” said the release.

“None of the close contacts have any symptoms. Contact tracing, an active search for any symptomatic case has been carried out in the hospital and area where the case resided. Information, Education, and Communication activities were carried out for the public with advice to report any symptomatic case to the health authorities. There are no symptomatic individuals in the area at present.”

The Department of Microbiology in the All India Institute Of Medical Science received the Bronchoalveolar lavage for respiratory panel testing on July 7 and July 11.

“The sample had tested positive for both Influenza A and Influenza B. It was negative for SARS-COV-2 and other respiratory viruses. Subtyping for Influenza A remained inconclusive with available reagents for H1N1 and H3N2 at All India Institute Of Medical Science. So, the samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology on July 13, 2021,” said the release.

“At National Institute of Virology, the result showed that the sample is positive for A/H5 and Type B Victoria lineage. Whole-genome sequencing and virus isolation are in process,” the release said.

The experts said that the virus does not infect humans easily and spreads from person to person appears to be unusual. Infected birds shed the avian influenza virus in their saliva, mucous, and feces.

Human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled.

“The monitoring of the doctors and nurses treating the patient was started from July 16 onwards for development of any influenza-like symptoms. Contact tracing was undertaken and family members, close contacts, and health care workers are under close surveillance,” the National Centre for Disease Control said.

Further, an epidemiological investigation by the National Centre for Disease Control, involving the animal husbandry department and state government surveillance unit, is underway, and appropriate public health measures have been instituted.

“Symptoms vary from nasal discharge, sneezing, and body aches. They do result in respiratory failure. Human transmission is rare,” said Rajesh Chawla, senior consultant pulmonology and critical care at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)



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Several Existing Drugs May Be Effective Against COVID-19

Several Existing Drugs May Be Effective Against COVID-19

Researchers have found that several substances known as ion channel blockers may be effective against COVID-19, but currently only one such substance is approved as an antiviral treatment, and that is for influenza. (Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash)/Unsplash)

New research by Prof. Isaiah (Shy) Arkin of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggests that several existing drugs should be studied as promising treatments for COVID-19.

Arkin and his team looked for antiviral drugs that exploit a weak link in many viruses — proteins called ion channels.

Ion channels allow the virus to regulate the acidity and salinity of its internal and external environment. Blocking those channels makes it difficult for infections to spread.

So far, only one ion channel blocker is approved as an antiviral treatment, and that is for influenza.

Arkin and his group focused on the E protein ion channel in the coronavirus membrane. They scanned a small library of substances approved for use in humans and found two that block it: gliclazide (a drug used to treat diabetes) and memantine (a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease).

Then they scanned a broader library of 2,839 substances and found eight more E protein inhibitors, as reported in the scientific journal Pharmaceuticals.

Since all the inhibitors found are already approved for use in humans, Arkin expects a swift path to regulatory approval for clinical research.

“Thirty percent of the drugs available today have been approved in this way, including the drugs currently available against the coronavirus or those recently tested against this virus,” Arkin said.

Indeed, earlier Israeli research identified several other existing drugs that could be used to treat COVID-19.

He added that it’s safe to assume inhibitors of the E protein — an essential component of SARS-CoV-2 — would be relevant to variants, even those against which current vaccines are less effective.

“The general feeling in Israel and around the world is that if there are vaccines, there is no reason to continue working on [treatments for] the virus because we have found a solution. Unfortunately, if we rely on one solution, the vaccine, we may find ourselves in a situation where a new variant [resists the vaccine],” Arkin said. “We’re not there yet, but the variants around the world are a warning light.”

His group hopes to publish another study on the effectiveness of the inhibitors against the entire virus and not just against the E protein.

“The stage is now set for in vitro and in vivo studies (in appropriate bio-safety facilities) to examine the effects of the compounds on the virus,” the researchers concluded.

Several Existing Drugs May Be Effective Against COVID-19 appeared first on Israel21C.



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