A new antibody treatment is to be trialled on Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals.
Monoclonal antibodies, which are potent, laboratory-made antibodies, will be given to about 2,000 people to see if they are effective against coronavirus.
It forms part of the UK Recovery Trial, which found that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone could save lives.
The first patients will be given the new drugs in the coming weeks.
Prof Martin Landray from the University of Oxford, who is co-leading the Recovery Trial, said: “This is the first type of treatment that’s targeted for this specific virus.
“There are lots of good reasons for thinking it might well be effective – stopping the virus from reproducing, stopping the virus from causing damage, improving survival for patients.
“We need to know, and the way to know is to do the trials that will tell us whether that hope turns into reality.”
What are monoclonal antibodies?
Antibodies could be described as the “warriors” of the immune system.
When coronavirus infects your body, antibodies attach to the spikes of the virus, blocking it from entering your cells.
But we produce many different types of antibodies – the most potent are called neutralising antibodies.
So scientists “sieve” through them to find the one thats best at sticking to the spike.
The chosen antibody is multiplied in the lab, and produced in huge quantities.
This is then given to patients, immediately boosting their immune response.
Which monoclonal antibodies are being used in the trial?
The trial will test a mixture of two monoclonal antibodies made by the US biotech company Regeneron.
Both attach to the spike of the virus at slightly different places. So if the virus mutates, and the structure changes, at least one should still work.
Regeneron has already produced monoclonal antibodies that can treat Ebola.
Leah Lipsich, vice president of the company, said: “We’re hoping that we can springboard from that very effective result against Ebola to something that’s just as effective with Covid-19.”
How will the trial work?
The UK Recovery Trial was set up at the start of the pandemic to identify treatments that could help people admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
It has already showed the steroid dexamethasone cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators, and by a fifth for those on oxygen.
Patients will start being given monoclonal antibodies in the next few weeks, and the results will be compared with other patients who have not been given the antibodies.
Prof Landray expects that about 2,000 people in each group will be needed to answer key questions.
He said: “We need to understand not only if these treatments work. We also need to understand in whom do they work, and in whom do they work best.
“Do they work in people who are older or younger? Do they work in people with more severe or milder disease? Do they work in people only when they’re on ventilators or, possibly more likely, before they ever need ventilators?”
The results will also be compared with people receiving convalescent plasma, another treatment currently undergoing trials by the Recovery team. This is where plasma, the yellowish, liquid part of blood, is taken from people whove recovered from coronavirus and given to patients.
The Recovery Trial is also looking at azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic, and tocilizumab, an anti-inflammatory treatment.
Which other diseases are monoclonal antibodies used for?
Monoclonal antibodies have been used clinically since the 1980s, and are used to treat many diseases including some forms of cancer.
But because they are a relatively new technology, they can be expensive.
The price for the Covid treatment has not yet been set.
But Prof Landray says if it works, fair access to all patients, internationally, is an issue that needs to be considered.
Do we still need treatments if we have a vaccine?
Some vaccines are entering the final phase of trials, but none are near being ready to roll out.
And with Covid cases rising, people are still being hospitalised and some are dying.
Apart from dexamethasone and another cheap steroid, hydrocortisone, there are no other clinically proven treatments for Covid-19, so finding new ways to help patients is vital.
But even once we do have a vaccine, treatments will continue to play a role.
Leah Lipsich, from Regeneron, said: “There will be populations – the immunocompromised, the elderly – who may not mount a sufficient immune response to a vaccine and will require treatment.
“And we feel very strongly that these highly potent neutralising antibodies really will help boost the immune response, and will always be needed even even when a vaccine is available.”
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-54120753
Belize declared free from malaria by health chiefs
The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Belize as free of malaria.
The WHO said the Central American nation had “achieved a dramatic reduction” in malaria cases, down from 10,000 in 1994 to zero indigenous cases in 2019.
It said Belize’s achievement would serve as an inspiration for other countries in the Americas, where malaria is endemic.
Malaria, spread to humans by some types of mosquitoes, can be lethal.
The WHO said that Belize had kept the fight against malaria at the forefront of its public health agenda,
It praised the country for distributing mosquito nets treated with insecticide and encouraging the spraying of insecticides indoors.
The organisation also said that trained community health workers had “played a vital role in timely diagnosis and treatment” of malaria.
The WHO certifies a nation as malaria-free when it has shown “with rigorous, credible evidence” that the there has been no transmission of malaria within the country for at least three consecutive years.
Belize is the third country in the world to be certified this year so far, after Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.
How does overeating affect the immune system?
Overeating is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is widely understood that excessive eating leads to obesity and other health problems, many people are unaware of the impact that overeating has on the immune system. In this article, we will explore how overeating affects the immune system and what can be done to prevent or mitigate the damage.
The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances and infections. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens and other invaders that may cause harm to the body. When the body is functioning normally, the immune system works efficiently to keep us healthy. However, when the body is subjected to chronic stress, such as from overeating, it can become weakened, making it less effective at protecting the body against illness and disease.
One of the ways in which overeating affects the immune system is by increasing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.
Another way in which overeating affects the immune system is by altering the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play a crucial role in maintaining good health. When the body is exposed to a high-fat diet, the balance of gut bacteria can become disrupted, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the suppression of beneficial bacteria. This can result in decreased gut function and reduced immune function, making it more difficult for the body to protect itself against harmful pathogens.
In addition, overeating can also lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is associated with a range of physiological changes, including insulin resistance and the release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in the immune response. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of cytokines, it can lead to a state of chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.
Finally, overeating can also affect the immune system by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.
In conclusion, overeating can have a profound impact on the immune system. By increasing inflammation, altering the gut microbiome, causing obesity, and inducing oxidative stress, overeating can weaken the body’s ability to protect itself against harmful pathogens and other invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid overeating. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your immune system and reduce your risk of illness and disease.
Homelessness and mental illness are two intertwined issues that have a complex relationship. Homelessness can cause or worsen mental illness and, conversely, mental illness can contribute to homelessness. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape, and it is important to understand the ways in which these two issues are interconnected.
Homelessness can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Living on the streets can be a traumatic experience, with a constant fear of violence, theft, and disease. Homeless individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of privacy, which can lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, and isolation. The stress and unpredictability of homelessness can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Mental illness, on the other hand, can also contribute to homelessness. Mental illness can make it difficult for individuals to maintain employment, manage their finances, and maintain stable housing. Individuals with mental illness may struggle with accessing treatment and support, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can also contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. These challenges can lead to a cycle of homelessness and mental illness, where each issue exacerbates the other.
There is a need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and mental illness. This includes providing safe and stable housing, access to mental health treatment and support, and addressing the underlying social determinants of health that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.
Housing First, a program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals before addressing any other issues, has been shown to be effective in reducing homelessness and improving mental health outcomes. This approach recognizes that stable housing is a critical foundation for addressing other issues, including mental health.
In conclusion, homelessness and mental illness are complex and interrelated issues that require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address. Providing stable housing and access to mental health treatment and support is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and mental illness and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these issues. It is important to continue to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and lack of access to education and employment opportunities, to reduce the prevalence of homelessness and improve outcomes for those experiencing it.
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Europe3 years ago
Covid: Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat
Europe3 years ago
Post-Brexit trade: Is red tape chaos just ‘teething trouble’ as the UK government argues?
Tech3 years ago
Search engine startup asks users to be the customer, not the product
Health3 years ago
Spain ‘to register’ those who refuse to have Covid-19 vaccine
Tech2 years ago
Sign up to The Independent’s free cryptocurrency expert panel event
US3 years ago
Send a birthday card to the oldest living WWII veteran in the US as he turns 111