Medical Research

Regional News • Europe • France
Macron calls upon US and EU to allocate 5% of vaccine supplies to developing countries
Macron calls upon US and EU to allocate 5% of vaccine supplies to developing countries
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

French President Emmanuel Macron is urging the United States and European countries to allocate up to 5% of Coronavirus vaccine supplies to poor and developing countries.

Macron: “If we allow to take root the idea that hundreds of millions of vaccines are made in rich countries and that we don’t start in poor countries, that idea is unsustainable.”

Regional News • Europe • Germany
48 percent of Covid-19 positive patients in Berlin-Mitte have no antibodies
48 percent of Covid-19 positive patients in Berlin-Mitte have no antibodies
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

In about half (48 percent) of the adults who said they tested positive for Covid-19 before the start of the study, no so-called neutralizing antibodies were detectable. This is shown by new data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The result once again speaks in favor of vaccination, said RKI President Lothar Wieler. It is generally not atypical for coronaviruses to lose their antibody protection more quickly than other viruses.

Health
Stud: Apple cider vinegar can eliminate antibiotic-resistant germs

A research team from London now writes that apple cider vinegar can also eliminate antibiotic-resistant germs. The researchers have carried out tests with resistant staphylococci and e-coli bacteria. In the tests, the apple cider vinegar penetrated the bacterial cells and stopped the growth processes there. According to the researchers, the effect is comparable to that of certain antibiotics, which are no longer effective against these germs.

Science • Humans
New study finds Covid-19 patients are immune to virus for at least six months
New study finds Covid-19 patients are immune to virus for at least six months
Credit: unsplash.com/ThisisEngineering RAEng

A study by Rockefeller University suggests that patients who recovered from a Covid-19 infection were immune to the virus for at least six months. Participants showed an improvement of antibodies even after the infection has waned and an increased ability to block various Covid-19 mutations.

"This is really exciting news. The type of immune response we see here could potentially provide protection for quite some time, by enabling the body to mount a rapid and effective response to the virus upon re-exposure," says Michel C. Nussenzweig, the Zanvil A. Cohn and Ralph M. Steinman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology

Health
Study: The English and Scots are the most likely to be heavily drunk
Study: The English and Scots are the most likely to be heavily drunk
Credit: unsplash.com / Adam Wilson

An international study also states that Englishmen and Scotsmen got seriously drunk most often in 2019.

With 33.8 times in a year, the Scots were slightly ahead of the English (33.7) on average, according to the Global Drug Survey. More than 90,000 people in more than 25 countries were surveyed at the end of 2019 for the survey, which was published Monday. Getting drunk was defined in the survey like this: So much alcohol was drunk that physical and mental abilities were massively impaired - including, for example, sense of balance or speech.

Science • Humans
Study: Covid-19 reduces life expectancy in US, especially among Black and Latino populations
Study: Covid-19 reduces life expectancy in US, especially among Black and Latino populations
Credit: unsplash.com/Joel Muniz

A study by the University of Southern California has found that "due to COVID-19 deaths last year, life expectancy at birth for Americans will shorten by 1.13 years to 77.48 years" – the largest single-year decline in four decades. The research found that life expectancy was further reduced among the Black and Latino populations in the US, with a reduction of 2.10 years to 72.78 years for Black people and 3.05 years to 78.77 years for Latinos, compared to a reduction of 0.68 years to 77.84 years for white people.

"Our study analyzes the effect of this exceptional number of deaths on life expectancy for the entire nation, as well as the consequences for marginalized groups," said study author Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. "The COVID-19 pandemic's disproportionate effect on the life expectancy of Black and Latino Americans likely has to do with their greater exposure through their workplace or extended family contacts, in addition to receiving poorer health care, leading to more infections and worse outcomes."

Science • Medicine
First long-acting injectable HIV drug combo approved by US FDA
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte. This image has been colored to highlight important features; see PHIL 1197 for original black and white view of this image.
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte. This image has been colored to highlight important features; see PHIL 1197 for original black and white view of this image. Credit: Photo Credit: C. GoldsmithContent Providers: CDC/ C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E. L. Palmer, W. R. McManus, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved cabotegravir and rilpivirine injection – called Cabenuva – as a long-acting treatment for HIV-1 infections in adults. The new treatment is the first injectable treatment that has to be administered on a monthly basis, replacing daily pill medications to control the infection of the AIDS virus.

Health
Research: Possible cure for malaria transmission discovered

Researchers at the University of Pretoria in South Africa report that they have found substances that could prevent tmalaria ransmission. They write in the journal Nature Communications that two substances that have been studied for their effectiveness against tuberculosis and cancer can kill malaria parasites - even when it is infectious. For the past year, the WHO fears even more victims because many prevention measures could not be implemented due to the Corona pandemic.

Science • Medicine
BioNTech records first successes in the development of a vaccine against multiple sclerosis

Mainz-based BioNTech is working on an mRNA-based vaccine against multiple sclerosis. The first preclinical studies are promising; the vaccine approach was able to prevent MS disease in mice, and in mice that were already mildly ill, it was able to prevent the disease from progressing and motor functions could even be restored. The study on the mice is so promising that the start of clinical trials on humans is now the next goal, although these cannot begin for at least two years, as the approach must first be tested on human cells in the laboratory.

Regional News • World
Newly discovered South African Covid-19 strain may be "more effective at spreading"
Newly discovered South African Covid-19 strain may be "more effective at spreading"
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The newly discovered South African variant of Covid-19 seems to be "more effective at spreading" and might be slightly more resistant to vaccines, South African scientists believe.

"Putting our data together with that in the UK, this [South African] variant is a bit more effective at spreading from person to person and that is not good. It means we have to get a bit better at stopping it," so Dr. Richard Lessells who is one of the specialists leading the research into the new mutation. "Ours raises a few more concerns for a vaccine [than the UK variant] … Another worry is reinfection. We are currently doing the careful, methodical work in the laboratory to answer all the questions we have and that takes time."

Lifestyle • Religion
Vatican: "Morally acceptable" to receive Coronavirus vaccines using abortion cell lines
Vatican: "Morally acceptable" to receive Coronavirus vaccines using abortion cell lines
Credit: Raffaele Esposito, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Vatican said that it is "morally acceptable" to receive a Coronavirus vaccine even if cell lines from tissues of aborted fetuses were used in its production. The Vatican stated that the use of such vaccines "does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion".

Health
UK permits first clinical trial for depression treatment with DMT
UK permits first clinical trial for depression treatment with DMT
Credit: unsplash.com / Pretty Drugthings

The Imperial College London's Centre for Psychedelic Research will run the first clinical trial of depression treatment with the psychedelic and illegal substance dimethyltryptamine (DMT). It will be held in in collaboration with Small Pharma, with a neuropharmaceutical company.

Small Pharma stated that the approval is a "truly ground-breaking moment" in the treatment of depression and the chief medical and scientific officer at the company, Carol Routledge, has added that she believes that "Psychedelic assisted therapy will revolutionise the treatment of depression because it gets right to the root cause of the illness".

Regional News • Asia
Cannabis removed from Thailand's narcotics list
Cannabis removed from Thailand's narcotics list
Credit: unsplash.com / Next Green Wave

In order to allow wider use of marijuana for medical purposes, Thailand's Narcotics Control Board has voted to remove cannabis plants from the list of Category 5 narcotics.

However, growing marijuana is only allowed if a permit is granted by the FDA to ensure alignment with government agencies.

Science • Nature
DeepMind announces that their AI can predict protein folding
DeepMind announces that their AI can predict protein folding
Credit: Courtesy of DeepMind

DeepMind has presented an AI application that makes it possible to predict protein structure with high accuracy. According to John Moult, a biologist at the University of Maryland, it is the first application of artificial intelligence "that has solved a serious problem".

Independent scientists said the breakthrough would help researchers tease apart the mechanisms that drive some diseases and pave the way for designer medicines, more nutritious crops, and “green enzymes” that can break down plastic pollution.

Health
European Court of Justices classifies CBD as non-addictive substance
European Court of Justices classifies CBD as non-addictive substance
Credit: unsplash.com / Elsa Olofsson

The European Court of Justice in its current decision stated that CBD not an addictive drug in the sense of the UN Single Convention. The court argued with the current state of science that CBD has no harmful effects on human health (ECJ C-663/18 of 19.11.2020).

This decision is contrary stance of the EU Commission which argued that CBD is an addictive drug.

Health
New drug for HIV prevention
New drug for HIV prevention
Credit: unsplash.com / National Cancer Institute

Worldwide 38 million people are infected with HIV and despite the long fight against the virus and education about it, there are still 1.7 million newly infected people every year. With drugs for HIV prevention, attempts are being made to reduce this number. In clinical studies, the new drug Cabotegravir has now proven to be particularly effective.

It only needs to be injected every eight weeks instead of having to be taken daily in pills as before. Especially for women, the drug is more effective than the previously available pill Truvada, but the new drug is also more effective for men and transwomen

Health
UK study: Problems with statin drugs caused by a 'nocebo effect'

The UK study has found that debilitating problems thought to be caused by statins are seldom caused by the actual drug.

It points to a 'nocebo effect' which is causing the problems, with users believing that the drug will make them sick. The study found a stark 90% of cases may be caused by the 'nocebo effect'.

The British Heart Foundation has said the results are undeniable.

Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK, with nearly 8 million prescriptions.

Health
Nearly 95% protection shown in Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
Covid-19 Vaccine Bottle Mockup
Covid-19 Vaccine Bottle Mockup Credit: Daniel Schludi

A new Covid-19 vaccine, from the US company Moderna, is nearly 95% effective, early data show. The trial involved 30,000 people in the US, with half being given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart.

"These effects are what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response," said Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London.

Health
Study: One in five recovered Covid-19 patients develop cognitive deficits
Study: One in five recovered Covid-19 patients develop cognitive deficits
Credit: unsplash.com / Nik Shuliahin

Researchers from Britain’s Oxford University have found that 20% of Covid-19 patients are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. The study analyzed over 62,000 cases of Covid-19 in the United States and has been published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

Mental health specialists not directly involved with the study evaluated the findings and stated that it adds to growing evidence that Covid-19 can increase the risk of a range of psychiatric illnesses as it can affect the brain and mind. People who had recovered, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits when controlling for age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group and pre-existing medical disorders.

Science
German researchers cultivate artificial midbrain as an alternative to animal experiments
German researchers cultivate artificial midbrain as an alternative to animal experiments
Credit: unsplash.com / Josh Riemer

A research team at the Max Planck Institute in Münster succeeded in growing tissue clumps using robots that resemble the human midbrain. To do this, the researchers cultivate three-dimensional organ-like tissue structures, so-called organoids, from stem cells. Using robots, the organoids can be produced completely automatically. Experiments on the organoids could, for example, be used in drug research and thus end animal experiments.