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Experts Say Mapping of Cannabis Genome Could Potentially Improve Crops And Health

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Assigning/locating a specific gene to a particular region of a chromosome, along with the determination o the location and relative distances between genes on the chromosome, is what the process of genome mapping is. Researchers are now emphasizing on the importance of cannabis genome mapping in order to improve crops and health.

According to the recently published international study that the researchers of the University of Saskatchewan led, a coordinated scientific effort to assemble and map the cannabis genome, would be required to explore the complete potential of cannabis for agriculture and human health.

Moreover, the Annual Review of Plant Biology published a statistical analysis of existing data and studies, where the authors concluded that there are indeed large gaps in the scientific knowledge of this high-demand, multi-purpose crop. According to the authors, genomics has immense importance in the development of any crop, and the analysis underlines how essential a co-ordinated effort is, in order to quantify the genetic and biochemical diversity of this species.

According to a team of scientists from The Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S., it was estimated that less than 50 percent of the cannabis genome is accurately mapped, while 10 percent of the genome is missing, leaving a further 10 to 25 percent of genome unmapped. Lead author and plant scientist in the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Tim Sharbel, concluded that it shows the lack of foundation we have, to build a molecular breeding program that could be comparable to what exists for other crops.

According to Sharbel, these findings are expected to be the foundation of several types of research that the USask-led Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan (CRIS) will conduct. USask researchers from the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, College of Medicine, and the School of Environment and Sustainability, will also be involved in the multi-disciplinary team. The author also stressed on the importance of these data, which was required to be able to set up a core collection of genotypes so that the various cannabis traits can be further studied.

The author has been working on medicinal plants, for 15 years in Europe. He added that the emergence of the cannabis industry is a good sign for the accomplishment of the larger goal- to normalize the use of traditional medicinal plants.

Medicinal Purposes of Cannabis

The author had also talked about the increase in the interest of companies in medical applications of cannabis that the recent societal and governmental acceptance of cannabis spurred. He is currently focusing on his academic research that will map, contrast and make complete use of the closely related genome of cannabis, hemp, and hops, and is consequently on the hunt for collaborators in order to fund this research.

Cannabis as a Food Source

In the light of the limited data that currently exists, the researchers discovered the support for the potential that cannabis could have, to provide health benefits along with treatments for pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opioid use minimization.

Despite this, the negative short-term effects of THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, cannot be ignored. The short-term effects include decreased cognitive function, increased anxiety and fatigue, addiction, and potential long-term consequences that include permanent loss of memory, intelligence, mental focus, and judgment.

According to the author, like any other investigation of any other novel drug, the recognition of the potential benefits and associated risks, of cannabis and cannabinoids, is essential.

Furthermore, the team had noted the evidence of the possibility of developing hemp-type cannabis, that could be highly digestible as well as a protein-rich food source, and was expected to not be the cause of any allergic reactions.

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Coronavirus measures may curb the impact of the flu season

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With the fast approaching flue season, will SOPs be enough to ward off the burden on the healthcare system?

The United States may not necessarily see a ‘double whammy’ this fall, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Despite of fearing a setback to the healthcare system due to the concurrence of the flu season with the novel coronavirus, the scenarios observed in Australia are giving hopes to experts in the United States.

Australia usually experiences its flu season starting from April, with a peak arriving in August. This year however, due to numerous preemptive measures, the country was successful in curbing the impact of the flu season. According to the reports of WHO, flue cases in the country ‘virtually dropped off to baseline or negligible levels’.

CDC officials see vaccines as being mainly responsible for this major decline of flu cases in the country. The demand for flue vaccines in the region was at a record breaking high, resulting in about 18 million vaccinations.

Let’s take a look at what these results could mean for the United States.

Coronavirus and its preventative measures

The SOPs put in place for coronavirus might be also be warding of other diseases in the background. This trend was observed by researchers in March, whereby flu circulations got controlled after widespread social lock-downs. A similar tendency was seen in summers where the flu cases stood at historically low levels in the region.

In the opinion of a recent study, “If extensive community mitigation measures continue throughout the fall, influenza activity in the United States might remain low and the season might be blunted or delayed.”

These findings were published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This means that avoiding crowds, wearing masks and frequently washing hands can help take the edge off the flu season.

In addition to this, Dr. Anthony Fauci has also urged Americans to get vaccinated against the flu. This is mainly because the healthcare system is not in a position to deal with any escalations in patient numbers. Healthcare providers are wary of combating an unknown number of flu cases if the virus spirals out of control.

He is seeing the flu season as an opportunity to educate the masses about the importance of vaccines. This is specially important for those individuals who have certain misconceptions about COVID-19. According to a poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation, about one in five respondents believed wearing masks could harm them. In addition to this, it was found that 1 in 4 participants believed that hydroxychloroquine is helpful in treating COVID-19. Ironically, this drug has been praised by Donald Trump, who claims to have used it himself. There is no scientific evidence of its efficacy for coronavirus whatsoever.

All of these misconceptions have stressed the need of educating the public about important issues relating to virus protection measures.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The question of whether or not people will get themselves vaccinated if a coronavirus vaccine is made available soon is getting mixed responses. According to latest research findings, a majority of Americans now believe that an increased political pressure may rush its approval by the FDA.

The numbers of these dubious individuals has risen from what it was a few months ago. About 54% of respondents of a poll conducted by KFF said that they would not get the vaccine even if it was available for free before the November 3 elections.

“Public skepticism about the FDA and the process of approving a vaccine is eroding public confidence even before a vaccine gets to the starting gate,” says KFF president and CEO Drew Altman.

Anthony Fauci sees a huge risk in this type of mindset. He believes that if a lesser number of people get themselves vaccinated, it is not going to stop the spread of the virus. “If you have a vaccine that is highly effective and not enough people get vaccinated, you’re not going to realize the full, important effect of having a vaccine.”

Cases of outbreaks have still continued to happen during long-weekends or personal gatherings of people. A vaccine for COVID-19 might be the only viable solution, but politicizing it as an opportunity to win big in elections is raising skepticism among the public. This has created an environment where misinformation can be easily created and widely shared.

 

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Russian COVID-19 Antiviral Drug To Be Released Next Week

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The USSR often makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. This may just attribute itself to its controversial leader, aggressive foreign policy and remarkably cold climate. After all, the nation is no stranger to strife, turmoil and resilience in its rich history. However, one thing that Russia often gets overlooked for is its advancements in medicine. More specifically, the fact that it has a COVID-19 antiviral drug on the horizon.

The COVID-19 pandemic, as known by the world, started off as a poorly contained outbreak in Wuhan, China. From there, the situation escalated as the coronavirus spread across the globe. Now, entire global economies lay shattered and decrepit. COVID-19 also incurred hundreds of thousands of casualties. Schools, businesses and social settings remain indefinitely on hold in most parts of the world.

Russia aims to release its new antiviral medication by next week

Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. The Russian company behind the new drug, based in the town of Yaroslavl, claimed to be on shelves as early as next week. R-Pharm, the name of the company, announced its completion of Stage III trial status recently. The Stage III clinical trial refers to the comparison of viability compared to the usual standard drug of choice. In this case, the drug, coronavir, will compare and contrast with dexamethasone. Dexamethasone became the standard drug therapy in the UK recently after clearing Phase IV and works to reduce inflammation.

Coronavir, the drug in question, also gets to share the spotlight with its cousin, avifavir. Both coronavir and avifavir come from the same precursor drug, favipiravir. Favipiravir comes from Japan, where it initially gained approval as an anti-influenza drug. This drug can produce coronavir and afivavir depending on requirements.

 The drug underwent stringent inspections and trials to gain approval

Coronavir, named after the very virus it combats, seems an exceptionally good drug. It, considered tried and tested with good patient outcomes, works well. While originally approved for uses in hospital settings back in July, it quickly gained support for domestic cases. To investigate any side effects or patient distress, a study was conducted to check. This check means to verify the extensive testing on volunteers that federal regulations require.

Out of 168 COVID-19 patients in the study, most responded well to treatment. Thus, if it passes Stage III trials, then Stage IV, coronavir would check all the boxes. Thus, it very well could be able to hit shelves as soon as next week. Research shows that coronavir is most effective in minor or moderately serious cases of COVID-19.

Russia may yet make a reputation for itself as a medically progressive nation

In recent times, the country truly stepped forward to help battle the ongoing coronavirus situation. The upcoming Sputnik-V vaccine, also expected to release soon, garnered praise and skepticism alike. This vaccine holds the potential to be a true game changer. It is easy enough to administer, has few toxic interactions and will not be prohibitively expensive. However, recent lab findings for Sputnik-V  showed that around one in seven of the volunteers developed minor side effects. So while it may not be totally innocuous, the hope will certainly involve ironing out some wrinkles.

Therefore, the advent of coronavir or Sputnik-V simply means that the pandemic may finally die down. There definitely is no need to panic or doubt the system. With any luck, only the most authentic get published.

 

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Trump Claims COVID-19 Vaccine Ready By Next Month

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Trump claims COVID-19 vaccine coming next month

In a surprising new press conference, the POTUS Donald Trump has announced a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be ready by mid-October. The news came as a shock to most, seeing that as of now, no vaccine has even been approved by the FDA. Nonetheless, the President, running for reelection this November, claims that all is running smoothly. The president did not shy from saying that his opposition would not be nearly as capable as his administration in fighting the virus.

It’s hard to take the President at his word. While it seems unlikely that he would make so huge an overstatement so close to the elections, we have reason to doubt him. This is still the same person who offhandedly suggested injecting disinfectants would cure the disease, after all. Let’s take a look at the situation in more depth, to help measure our expectations better.

America leads the world in COVID-19 cases at the moment, under Trump

The US has a huge lead in terms of the number of cases of COVID-19, and the death toll too. The situation is truly dire in many places with hospitals past capacity and things are only going to get worse. The number of uninsured Americans exceeded twenty seven million back in April, and following the large increase in unemployment since then, that number could have tripled. Without healthcare, the average person is already at a disadvantage against COVID-19.

Furthermore, Trump has increased resentment against the wearing of masks and preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Anti-mask sentiment is a large contributor to the high infection rates in the US, and Trump personally ascribes to this mindset. He said so as much in the press conference, mocking Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden for wearing a mask. Trump suggested it had more to do with covering facial features out of shame than it did with stopping the spread of the virus.

Still, vaccines have made tremendous strides in recent months

The POTUS has a point, though. The COVID-19 vaccine that everyone is talking about has made more progress on a rushed schedule than any other vaccine ever. Scientists have pulled overtime to ensure the response to the virus be as quick as possible. And the results are promising, with more than one vaccine already having entered the final test phase. In Russia, a vaccine is already being distributed.

Another partial truth Trump spoke was saying that masks are nowhere near as effective as a vaccine. Which is obviously true, because if they were, why would we bother spending billions on a vaccine? However, to suggest that masks are useless is not logically sound. Mask wearing has led to countries like France and Italy come back from the brink of collapse. Where people are responsible in social distancing, the results speak for themselves.

What will happen in regards to vaccination in the next few months, even after Trump?

It’s most likely that Trump is over promising to farmer votes for the election. The head of the Center for Disease Control stated earlier that in no way would a vaccine program be possible nationally before next year. Yet Trump dismissed his expert advice, with typical Trump swagger.

It won’t be the first time a politician lied to the public to get votes, but the matter is complex. It technically might be possible for a vaccine to be out by October, but without insurance, most Americans likely won’t be able to afford it. And until October rolls around, how many will get sick because Trump supporters refuse to cover up? Wear a mask, stay safe at home.

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