London- Researchers have identified an anti-viral gene that impacts the risk of both Alzheimer's disease and severe Covid-19.
A team from the University College London (UCL) estimated that one genetic variant of the OAS1 gene increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease by about 3-6 per cent in the population as a whole, while related variants on the same gene increase the likelihood of severe Covid-19 outcomes.
"While Alzheimer's is primarily characterised by harmful build-up of amyloid protein and tangles in the brain, there is also extensive inflammation in the brain that highlights the importance of the immune system in Alzheimer's. We have found that some of the same immune system changes can occur in both Alzheimer's disease and Covid-19," said lead author Dr Dervis Salih, from UCL's Queen Square Institute of Neurology and UK Dementia Research Institute.
"In patients with severe Covid-19 infection, there can also be inflammatory changes in the brain. Here we have identified a gene that can contribute to an exaggerated immune response to increase risks of both Alzheimer's and Covid-19," Salih added, in the paper published in the journal Brain.
To understand the gene's link to Alzheimer's, the team sequenced genetic data from 2,547 people, half of whom had the brain disorder.
They found that people with a particular variation, called rs1131454, of the OAS1 gene were more likely to have Alzheimer's disease, increasing carriers' baseline risk of Alzheimer's by an estimated 11-22 per cent.
The new variant identified is common, and it has a bigger impact on Alzheimer's risk than several known risk genes, the researchers said.
Further, the researchers investigated four variants on the OAS1 gene, all of which dampen its expression (activity).
They found that the variants increasing the risk of Alzheimer's are linked (inherited together) with OAS1 variants recently found to increase the baseline risk of needing intensive care for Covid-19 by as much as 20 per cent.
That is, the microglia cells where OAS1 gene was expressed more weakly had an exaggerated response to tissue damage, unleashing what they call a 'cytokine storm,' which leads to an autoimmune state where the body attacks itself, the team said.
OAS1 activity changes with age, so further research into the genetic network could help to understand why older people are more vulnerable to Alzheimer's, Covid-19, and other related diseases, they added.
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Bhopal- A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal have in a review identified the biomolecular relationships between Covid-19, ageing, and diabetes.
The review, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, presented that existing drugs used to treat diabetes, obesity and ageing can potentially be used to treat Covid-19. Similar naturally existing biomolecules were also explored in combination for the Covid treatment.
"There are classes of compounds such as polyphenols found in plant-based food, curcumin (found in turmeric), and resveratrol (found in grapes), have been shown to not only slow down the ageing process, but also possess anti-viral properties," said Dr. Amjad Husain, Principal Scientist, and CEO of Innovation and Incubation Center for Entrepreneurship (IICE), IISER Bhopal, in a statement.
Some other polyphenols that the researchers have identified as being useful for both Covid-19 treatment and comorbidity conditions such as diabetes and ageing may include catechins (present in green tea, cocoa and berries), procyanidins (found in apples, cinnamon and grape skin), and theaflavin (found in black tea).
The researchers also present evidence of some existing potential anti-ageing drugs such as Rapamycin that can be explored for the Covid-19 treatment because of the common biochemical pathways associated with these diseases. Another such example is a drug Metformin , which is usually used to control blood sugar.
The review showed that at the molecular level, there are intersecting pathways that are common to diabetes, ageing, and Covid-19. All three conditions are associated with oxidative stress and lowering of the immune response and complications arising from them lead to the onset of numerous other diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, eye diseases, neuropathy (nerve diseases), and nephropathy (kidney problems).
The researchers believe that an ideal therapeutic candidate for Covid-19 should be able to target the pathways that are common to diabetes, ageing and the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Further, computational studies showed that lipids present in cell membranes play an important role in coronavirus infectivity.
Natural compounds such as polyphenols may affect the binding of the virus to host receptors and the molecular interactions required for virus replication and release, thereby stopping the infection in its early stages, the team explained.
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New York - Women who contract Covid-19 during pregnancy are at significantly higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, the leading cause of maternal and infant death worldwide, according to a new study.
Pre-eclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed that women with SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy had 62 per cent higher odds of developing preeclampsia than those without the infection during pregnancy.
"This association was remarkably consistent across all predefined subgroups. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was associated with a significant increase in the odds of pre-eclampsia with severe features, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome," said Roberto Romero, Professor of Molecular Obstetrics and Genetics at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
HELLP syndrome is a form of severe pre-eclampsia that includes hemolysis (the rupturing of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and a low platelet count.
The team published their findings after reviewing 28 previous studies that included 790,954 pregnant women, including 15,524 diagnosed with Covid-19 infection.
"Both asymptomatic and symptomatic infection significantly increased the risk of pre-eclampsia," Romero said.
"Nevertheless, the odds of developing pre-eclampsia were higher among patients with symptomatic illness than among those with asymptomatic illness."
Pre-eclampsia warning signs, in addition to elevated blood pressure, can include headaches, swelling in the face and hands, blurred vision, chest pain and shortness of breath.
The condition is responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths and more than 500,000 infant deaths every year, according to estimates from the Pre-eclampsia Foundation.
The babies of pre-eclamptic mothers are affected by the condition and may develop intrauterine growth restriction or die in utero.
The researchers said health care professionals should be aware of the association and closely monitor pregnant women who are infected for early detection of pre-eclampsia.
A separate study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology-Maternal-Fetal Medicine, showed that women who receive the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy pass high levels of antibodies to their babies.
The study of 36 newborns whose mothers received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy showed that 100 per cent of the infants had protective antibodies at birth.
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Washington, Aug 19 (IANS) Early administration of convalescent plasma does not prevent disease progression in a high-risk group of Covid-19 patients, says a study led by US National Institutes of Health (NIH).The trial, launched in August 2020, was stopped in February 2021 due to lack of efficacy based on a planned interim analysis. The final study has been published online in The New England Journal of Medicine."We were hoping that the use of Covid-19 convalescent plasma would achieve at least a 10 per cent reduction in disease progression in this group, but instead, the reduction we observed was less than 2 per cent," said Clifton Callaway, principal investigator for the trial."That was surprising to us. As physicians, we wanted this to make a big difference in reducing severe illness and it did not," said Callaway, who is also professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in the US.Covid-19 convalescent plasma, also known as "survivor's plasma", is blood plasma derived from patients who have recovered from Covid-19. Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorisation to allow use of convalescent plasma in hospitalised patients with Covid-19.The randomised, controlled clinical trial involved 500 adult outpatients who presented to 48 emergency departments with mild Covid-19 symptoms during their first week post-infection in the US.The researchers randomly assigned the participants to receive treatment with either high-titre Covid-19 convalescent plasma (containing anti-Covid-19 antibodies) or placebo (salt solution infused with multivitamins and lacking antibodies).Of the 511 participants, disease progression occurred in 77 (30 per cent) in the Covid-19 plasma group compared with 81 patients (31.9 per cent) in the placebo group. The plasma intervention did not cause harm, the researchers found.The reason the intervention did not produce the expected results is unclear, Callaway said. Researchers are continuing to look at possible explanations, including insufficient plasma dose, timing of plasma administration, host-related factors, or other aspects of the host tissue responses to the infection, he added.Additional studies of Covid-19 convalescent plasma are ongoing or planned in different populations. The results will help get a clearer, more conclusive picture of its value for future treatments of Covid-19, the researchers said.--IANSrvt/vd
New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) As India has stepped into the 75th year of Independence with the looming threat of third Covid wave, Dr. MC Mishra, former Director at AIIMS, holds less expenditure on health as a big hurdle in providing quality treatment to all across the nation.Talking to IANS, Dr Mishra said: "We are spending slightly more than one per cent of GDP in healthcare while European nations like United Kingdom, Netherlands, New Zealand, and others spend over 9 per cent of their total GDP in public healthcare system. Spending optimum amount can only ensure total public health." He said that India has advanced towards public health in these 74 years of post-independence, but the primary health sector still needs to be addressed more efficiently."If we are hoping to lessen the burdens of the secondary and tertiary sector, the government has to strengthen the primary health sector in the rural area to provide quality healthcare at the doorstep," added Dr. Mishra.On the proportion of the Doctor and Patient ratio, he opined to inculcate other traditional healthcare systems of India also while calculating the number. He said, "We should include the Allopathy, Homeopathy and Ayush Doctors together as they are also serving and provide treatment at primary levels." He opined to cover all prevalent systems of health care in a single ambit.Being asked about India's healthcare system during pandemic, he said India has managed the pandemic and the public-private partnership in providing better healthcare should continue beyond the pandemic, taking care of affordability issues for the common man where the government can intervene.Deliberating on challenges, he added that affordability is a major concern for the common folk in private hospitals but the government should prepare a mechanism to address this issue for public health.--IANSavr/pgh
New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday asked a Secunderabad-based hospital to consider reducing the treatment cost of a man whose wife has sought Rs 1 crore aid from the PM-CARES Fund for transplant of his lungs, which were impacted due to Covid infection.A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose clarified that the court is not giving any direction, but asking the hospital to consider if something could be done in this matter. "We are not giving any direction to the government, except that the representation is considered, which may not be useful as the government has their constraints," it said.The bench told the hospital's counsel to examine the estimated the cost for the lungs transplant and tell them if the hospital can be kind to the patient and reduce the charges.Counsel for the hospital informed the bench that the patient's condition is improving, and if it continues, he might not need a transplant. The bench replied, "That's good. You tell us next week, if condition has improved. Please get instructions if they can waive anything, we'll see."The bench posted the matter for further hearing on Monday. The top court was hearing a plea by Sheela Mehra who sought financial assistance for the medical procedure under Article 21 of the Constitution.Mehra, in the plea filed through advocate Krishna Kumar Singh, said: "Petitioner has spent more than Rs 1 crore on medication of her husband and only turned for help after exhausting all money available to her. The petitioner has also tried crowd funding, personal appeal on social websites, loan from friends and acquaintances before approaching the official respondents for financial help."She emphasised that no life should meet its end for reason of financial constraints and state is duty bound to extend help in appropriate case. She insisted that PM Cares Fund is a national endeavour to provide relief to persons in distress situation.--IANSss/vd