Toronto, June 2 (IANS) Genetic evidence does not support vitamin D as a protective measure against Covid-19, say researchers.The team from McGill University in Quebec, Canada, analyzed genetic variants of 4,134 individuals with Covid-19, and 1,284,876 without Covid-19, from 11 countries to determine whether genetic predisposition for higher vitamin D levels were associated with less-severe disease outcomes in people with Covid-19.The results, published in PLOS Medicine, showed no evidence for an association between genetically predicted vitamin D levels and Covid-19 susceptibility, hospitalisation, or severe disease. This suggests that raising circulating vitamin D levels through supplementation may not improve Covid-19 outcomes in the general population.Increased vitamin D levels, as reflected by 25-hydroxy vitamin D measurements, have been proposed to protect against Covid-19 based on in vitro, observational, and ecological studies.But, "Vitamin D supplementation as a public health measure to improve outcomes is not supported by this study," said researchers including Guillaume Butler-Laporte and Tomoko Nakanishi from the varsity.However, the team noted several limitations, including that the research did not include individuals with vitamin D deficiency, and it remains possible that truly deficient patients may benefit from supplementation for Covid-19 related protection and outcomes.Additionally, the genetic variants were obtained only from individuals of European ancestry, so future studies will be needed to determine the relationship with Covid-19 outcomes in other populations.A previous study also showed similar results. Scientists from the University of Sao Paulo conducted a clinical trial in Brazil with 240 patients who were given 200,000 IU of vitamin D3 on admission to hospital.The supplementation did not reduce length of stay or affect the proportion requiring intensive care, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).--IANSrvt/sdr/
Toronto, May 30 (IANS) An inexpensive, readily available oral anti-inflammatory drug can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death for some patients with Covid-19, according to a study.Colchicine, which is currently prescribed to treat gout, familial Mediterranean fever and pericarditis, could be considered as a treatment for those at risk of complications, revealed the findings published in the science journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine."Given the current pandemic, while awaiting collective immunity through vaccination around the world, the need for treatments to prevent Covid-19 complications among patients who contract the disease remains," said Jean-Claude Tardif, Director of the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) Research Centre."Our study showed that colchicine could be used to reduce the risk of complications for some patients with Covid-19," Tardif, who is also a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University de Montreal.For the study, the team conducted a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, home-based clinical trial in Canada, the United States, Europe, South America, and South Africa.The team included 4,488 non-hospitalised patients over 40 years of age with Covid-19 at the time of inclusion, with at least one identified risk factor for Covid-19 complications (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, known respiratory disease, obesity). Patients were randomised to receive colchicine (0.5 mg twice daily for three days and once daily after) or placebo for 30 days.The results showed that of 4,159 patients with Covid, the primary endpoint -- that is the composite of death or hospitalisation -- occurred in 4.6 per cent of patients in the colchicine group compared to 6.0 per cent in the placebo group, a statistically significant result.Serious adverse events were reported in 4.9 per cent of patients in the colchicine group and 6.3 per cent of those in the placebo group."Notwithstanding these results, it is recommended that studies such as this one be replicated in non-hospitalised patients with a PCR-confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19," the researchers stressed.--IANSrvt/in
Toronto, May 29 (IANS) Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that is capable of assessing the severity of Covid-19 cases with a promising degree of accuracy.The researchers from the University of Waterloo and Alexander Wong, a systems design engineering professor and co-founder of software company DarwinAI, said the technology could give doctors an important tool to help them manage cases."Assessing the severity of a patient with Covid-19 is a critical step in the clinical workflow for determining the best course of action for treatment and care, be it admitting the patient to ICU, giving a patient oxygen therapy, or putting a patient on a mechanical ventilator," Wong said.For the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, deep-learning AI was trained to analyse the extent and opacity of infection in the lungs of Covid-19 patients based on chest x-rays.Its scores were then compared to assessments of the same x-rays by expert radiologists, the team said.For both extent and opacity, important indicators of the severity of infections, predictions made by the AI software were in good alignment with scores provided by the human experts."The promising results in this study show that AI has a strong potential to be an effective tool for supporting frontline healthcare workers in their decisions and improving clinical efficiency," Wong added.--IANSvc/ksk/
New York, May 9 (IANS) Men with a common form of hormone-sensitive hair loss are more prone to being hospitalised and at risk for ICU admission due to Covid-19, researchers have found.Androgenetic alopecia is a condition of permanent hair loss from the scalp, causing baldness.The study, led by researchers at US-based biotechnology company Applied Biology, found association between the androgen receptor (AR) gene and Covid-19. Among men hospitalised with Covid, 79 per cent had androgenetic alopecia compared to 31-53 per cent that would be expected in a similar aged match population, the results showed.The team found that androgenetic alopecia is controlled by variations in the AR gene, which affects how sensitive the body is to androgens (hormones such as testosterone). In addition, an enzyme called TMPRSS2, which is key to Covid-19 infection, is also androgen sensitive and may be affected by variations in the AR gene. They also identified a region located in the AR gene associated with both androgen sensitivity and androgenetic alopecia.For the study, the team conducted a genetic analysis of 65 men hospitalised with Covid. They found that men with certain structural differences in the AR gene were more likely to develop severe Covid, than others.The differences "could be used as a biomarker to help identify male Covid-19 patients most at risk for ICU admissions", said Andy Goren, Chief Medical Officer, at Applied Biology."The identification of a biomarker connected with the androgen receptor is another piece of evidence highlighting the important role of androgens in Covid-19 disease severity," Goren added.The findings were presented at the two-day EADV's 2021 Spring Symposium held online from May 6-7.The research explores a promising new therapy for Covid-19 using a novel androgen receptor antagonist to regulate TMPRSS2 expression and possibly treat Covid-19 patients. The results of this study were submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.--IANSrvt/ksk/
New York, April 28 (IANS) Analysing urine samples of Covid-19 patients can help predict the disease's severity, according to researchers.The study, led by researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit, US, revealed elevated levels of specific biomarkers of the immune system compared to those who were not infected with coronavirus.In addition, levels of these inflammatory markers were higher in patients with comorbidities such as high blood pressure and diabetes.Researchers said they undertook this study in hopes of determining whether biomarkers of Covid-19 could predict which individuals will develop "overly exuberant immune responses," also called a cytokine storm.They chose to screen the urine of Covid-19 patients because of its non-invasive nature that doesn't require the use of needles or blood samples.Scientists said they hope the results of this study will translate to a regular screening process for Covid-19 patients to predict who is more likely to develop severe disease and to aid in a successful treatment strategy.The findings will be presented virtually at the American Physiological Society's annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2021.--IANSrvt/vd
London, April 12 (IANS) Patients treated with antipsychotic drugs have a lower risk of becoming infected or suffer a milder form of SARS-CoV-2 -- the virus causing Covid-19 -- if they get infected, according to a study.People with severe mental disorders have been identified as a high-risk group for a worse outcome in Covid-19 due to lower awareness of risk, higher prevalence of cognitive impairment among others.But, "the number of Covid-19 patients is lower than expected among this group of people and in cases where a proven infection does occur, the evolution is benign and does not reach a life-threatening clinical situation," said Manuel Canal Rivero, clinical psychologist from Virgen del Rocio University Hospital in Sevilla, Spain.For the study, detailed in the journal Schizophrenia Research, the team examined 698 patients treated with antipsychotics at the Seville hospital in Spain and found that antipsychotic drugs could provide protection against both infection and the tendency to clinical severity of Covid-19 infection.The team also examined the gene expression profile (indicator of activated biological processes) of Covid-19 patients (Wuhan cohort) and patients being treated with antipsychotic drugs (specifically, aripiprazole).They found that many of the genes altered by Covid-19 are significantly down-regulated by antipsychotic drugs, which are commonly used to treat diseases with psychotic symptoms."In a striking way we have shown how antipsychotics reduce the activation of genes involved in many of the inflammatory and immunological pathways associated with the severity of Covid-19 infection," said Crespo-Facorro, Professor at the vasrsity."Although this finding requires replication, the discovery could be very significant because the treatment of Covid-19 with drugs originally indicated for unrelated clinical situations, that is to say drug repositioning, has been shown to be an interesting source of effective treatments for Covid-19 patients," he said.--IANSrvt/dpb
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