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Coronavirus might end with a newly proposed treatment

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A recent trial for a possible treatment for the coronavirus infection has hinted towards hopeful results with DNA vaccine.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in November 2019, the number of effected patients has continuously been increasing. Numerous scientists and research groups are working to develop an effective vaccine and find a possible treatment. However, until now there has been no fruitful outcome. Some speculate that a vaccine would be ready in a few months. However, other reports state that the teams are not even close to developing a cure.
 
A recent vaccine trial has shown some progress in finding a treatment. It has proposed the use of DNA vaccines as a possible solution to end this crisis altogether.
 
Currently, a large number of doctors are employing convalescent plasma therapy. Recovered coronavirus patients are plasma donors. Doctors then inject this plasma in critical patients to improve their immunity. Since it contains appropriate antibodies to ward of the disease, the process has shown some positive results.
 
 
However, it is to note that the technique is not very efficient. Finding a matching blood group can sometimes pose a serious problem. Therefore, the search for the universal solution is still going on.

Clinical Trial

Published in the journal, Science, on 20th May, a study by students from Harvard Medical School in Boston, has shown positive results from DNA vaccine testing on monkeys.
 
By injecting genetically modified plasmids into the blood stream, DNA vaccine can treat infections. The plasmids contain an antigen sequence that trigger an immune response. This allows for the body to make appropriate antibodies.
 
In the trial, the research team produced six distinct DNA plasmids – or DNA vaccines, with an antigen – a spike protein, of the SARS-CoV-2. The theory behind the process was to trigger an immune response and study the antibodies produced as a result.
 
Researchers injected different variations of the plasmids in 35 monkeys – rhesus macaques. They were further infected with coronavirus o see which iteration produced the optimal results. Results showed that one of the six – the one with the complete encoding of the spike protein – was significantly more effective than the rest.
 
Numerous blood tests showed that despite the symptoms, that matched those of the coronavirus, the monkeys did develop numerous new antibodies that were not present before. When studied in detail, the immune response proved to be similar to that of the human coronavirus patients who have recovered.
 
 
The study also showed that unvaccinated monkeys had more virus molecules in their system as compared to the vaccinated ones – hinting towards a more active immune response in the latter.

Conclusion

Researchers have not carried out the trail on humans; however, they believe that it can prove to be a vital step towards finding a cure. Using DNA vaccines that encode the full sequence of the spike protein might trigger a similar response in the human counterparts as well.
 
However, this was just a basic level trial. It requires further research to see if the results were not accidental. Moreover, durability of the vaccine and effectiveness of the antibodies is still not confirmed and hence, needs more testing.
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Cannabis

Why New Jersey’s Telemedicine For Prescription Cannabis Is A Big Deal

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Telemedicine now available for prescription medicine in New Jersey

Earlier this month, legislation in New Jersey seems like it may take a turn in favor of medicinal cannabis using ‘telemedicine’. In a world, and nation, devastated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even visiting a physician may prove deadly. After all, hospitals, now overrun with emergent coronavirus cases, may become cesspools of airborne pathogens. Even healthcare providers still face significant risk of infection in their line of work. And this despite them donned in full protective gear and thoroughly disinfected regularly. As a matter of fact, going out anywhere public unnecessary remains inadvisable by the WHO and health authorities.

Recently, the members of the New Jersey state assembly convened to talk about various concerning issues. One of the biggest and most immediate issues, the plight of millions of patients needing prescription drugs at home, needing resolving. This especially held true of those requiring medicinal cannabis treatments, a drug not available at every nearby pharmacy. Therefore the members ruled to permit the use of telemedicine, a game-changing new service in the United States.

Telemedicine holds the key to quality healthcare in the middle of a dangerous pandemic

Not many outside of the medical field would immediately know what the concept refers to. Broadly speaking, telemedicine refers to any healthcare practice done without the patient and physician needing to interact in person. Looking at the etymology (the origin of the word), it’s all in the name (translating to long distance medicine). Therefore, video conferencing consultations between the patient at home and the doctor is an example of telemedicine. In addition, the purchase and delivery of prescription drugs from and to home online also counts as such.

So while it may not seem like anything more than ‘Zoom/Amazon but for medicine’, this is a gross understatement. Regular meetings, related to business, casual chatting and interviews, already occurred online before COVID-19. That classes and work began conducting over video conferences wasn’t anything unforeseeable as the pandemic grew. However, in traditional medical schools, few students receive training for how to treat patients online. After all, a good diagnosis usually comes with thorough rapport, careful inspection of the body and various examinations. So now the COVID-19 pandemic has doctors scrambling to learn an entirely new modality of work. And the concept of sitting safe at home while your lifesaving drugs come to you, risk-free is incredible.

The move comes unexpectedly, as cannabis legislation in New Jersey still holds some previous prejudices

The truth of the matter is that the United States is still a nation where recreational cannabis usage is federally illegal. And medicinal cannabis, despite modern scientific studies extolling its proven health benefits as a therapeutic agent in many conditions, as well. That means that the ‘default’ law for any state is that the drug is banned, with even possession resulting in criminal offence. The only state exceptions to this practice worked hard to exempt themselves. Even in New Jersey, recreational cannabis remains off the table, but medicinally it gained allowance.

As a result, the cannabis industry, which makes everything cannabis related (from hemp to CBD oils), doesn’t do well here. There simply isn’t a big enough market for products in states where cannabis is literally banned. In the case of New Jersey, only specially licensed dispensaries can legally sell prescription marijuana. Law makers historically have shown very little care to make medicinal weed more accessible, in addition. Furthermore, even healthcare providers may show hesitance to prescribe cannabis due to the amount of legal work required by state laws.

All in all, this move signals a step in the right direction. Hopefully, patients will receive their medications soon and safely.

 

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Health

COVID-19 And Influenza May Have Twin Pandemics This Year

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COVID-19 and influenza may have twin pandemics

Many times, just when a doctor congratulates themself on making a tricky diagnosis, disaster happens. Although most doctors maintain meticulous details and effort, even the best sometimes must face facts. And that sad truth is that often at times multiple diseases manifest with similar symptoms. A patient running in with chest pains may suffer from acid reflux (GERD) or a serious heart attack. Similarly, experts now agree that COVID-19 and influenza symptoms can be very difficult to distinguish.

Up until the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic this year, the leading respiratory virus was influenza. Ancient, commonplace, well-understood it was, and thus predictable in its outcomes. In fact, since the great flu pandemic in 1918, that eviscerated most of Europe and America, nothing came close. Experts since then, with new understandings of epidemiology and virology, were able to accurately map the influenza rise and falls over the years.

This year’s expected influenza patterns vary by hemisphere, and experts notice an interesting finding

Influenza, commonly called the “flu”, has a seasonal pattern. In the northern hemisphere, it tends to occur during the winter months. In the US, it generally starts mid-November and peters out by April. Despite its regular and predictable occurrence, the disease still claims thousands of lives every year. Flu cases often result in hospitalizations and disruptions to schools and workplaces.

In the southern hemisphere, nations like Australia experience peaks in the months of June till September. This inverse pattern is because of the reversed weather patterns; influenza generally thrives in colder climates. However, what astonished scientists this year is how the rise of COVID-19 seemingly led to a drop in influenza cases. In South America at the moment, the expected influenza cases appear missing, while COVID-19 cases increase daily.

Epidemiologists caution that influenza peaks and COVID-19 peaks could coincide, to catastrophic outcomes

In the northern hemisphere, where influenza awaits its winter season, COVID-19 already reigns supreme. Many nations, from the US to Italy experience its effects even now. However, so far influenza world wide had been flattened out due to what is suspected to be due to precautions towards COVID-19. The bans on travel, social distancing, mask wearing, disinfectants all contribute to curbing influenza spread too. However, despite this, as restrictions loosen and people tire of obeying WHO guidelines, and winter approaches, so should influenza. When that happens, both diseases may attack together.

What also bears mentioning is the statistical proof that COVID-19 indeed is at least thrice as infectious as influenza. In cases where both diseases coexist in the population, the number of new influenza cases pales in comparison to new COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, experts still can’t be sure what will happen when both epidemics coincide globally. Some patients in St. Joseph’s Hospital, New Jersey, already tested positive for both viruses. Whether both viruses will act together and worsen symptoms, or compete till one wins remains unclear.

It is imperative that both diseases be controlled before their twin pandemic occurs

Experts agree that nothing more than waiting will curb COVID-19. The vaccines, drugs and herd immunity for this disease all need time to work. Until then the best any individual can do is socially distance, wash hands frequently and try to quarantine at home. Likewise, for influenza, all that can be done is wait for vaccinations and build up one’s immune system.

For more news on the upcoming twin pandemics, stay tuned. Also, click here to read about China’s new vaccine that may one day inoculate for COVID-19, influenza and swine flu together.

 

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General News

Russian COVID-19 Antiviral Drug To Be Released Next Week

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russia covid-19 drug

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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