Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD), world’s #1 killer after cancer, will now be controlled by Novartis and Global Heart Hub


The Invisible Nation program has been launched recently by Novartis and Global Heart Hub. Under this program, a network of organizations will dedicate to improve the health of patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVD), helping them to manage the systemic changes that occur in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).

Did you know that about 15 million die due to ASCVD each year? Well, the program will not prevent such deaths but also help in reducing the economic burden of $1 trillion that is accrued as the annual cost of CVD. Although it is possible to prevent the death of most patients with ASCVD, most countries have failed to meet the WHO guidelines for reducing the mortality of CVD by 25% until 2025.

The Invisible Nation program will estimate the costs of managing ASCVD to patients and the society as a whole. It will coerce government NGOs to have a high-level of commitment in tackling the disease. Thus, it would create an environment for building new partnerships and new models to access healthcare services. These efforts would reduce the mortality of ASCVD significantly on a worldwide scale.

According to the Global Heart Hub’s executive director, the number of deaths caused by ASCVD is approximately 60% lesser than the number of deaths caused by cancer. Millions of people die from ASCVD each year and it is a terrible shock to everyone related to patients.

This shocking news can be prevented completely in about 80% of the cases. Patient organizations should provide support by providing education and guidance for better prognosis. This would reduce the high number of premature deaths. A change can be brought about in the overall management of the disease by increasing awareness among patients.

The Invisible Nation program will promote policies that transform the way governments controls the existing healthcare systems. Thus, many patient organizations can work together to decrease the growing trajectory of ASCVD deaths. Global Heart Hub will be working with major patient organizations to come up with a final action plan.

They will highlight innovative strategies to governments and healthcare systems in order to reduce the mortality rate of CV by 25%, according to the WHO guideline. The goal has to be achieved by the end of the year 2025. Novartis will be assisting in community programs by helping in networking of members seeking information and evidence of ASCVD. Thus, it will bring about a cooperation between local healthcare system, government authorities, and policymakers.



African countries will receive 17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson


To control the global pandemic of COVID-19, US government has decided to donate 17 million doses of single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to African countries. The vaccine has been manufactured by the reputed company Johnson & Johnson.

Under the COVAX program, the US government would be providing to African countries these doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance of the WHO would be supervising this massive initiative of the US government. Furthermore, the US government has committed to donate about 50 million doses of the vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson company.

Through the COVAX program of the WHO, the vaccines would be disbursed to people living in 40 countries spread across four continents. Currently, approximately 25 million doses of the vaccine have already been shipped internationally.

The corporate leadership of Johnson & Johnson has endorsed this initiative, reflecting on the need for life-saving doses of COVID-19 in poorer countries that need the most of medications in the pandemic. The US government has shown strong leadership skills in promising to donate so many million doses of the single-shot vaccine.

The company leaders have promised to accelerate the disbursement of vaccine on a global scale. The end of the pandemic may soon be possible with these positive strategies. The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) would be assisting the donation drive of the US government.

The trust is working independently in procuring more vaccines of COVID-19 for the African Union of countries. The US government’s largesse is evident from the fact that even Johnson & Johnson has promised to 900 million doses of single-shot vaccines by 2022, under the COVAX program.

According to chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson company, nobody is immune from contracting COVID-19 until everyone has been vaccinated. Even a single shot vaccine has to be compatible with the standard channels of distribution.

This vaccine is crucial in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, so the whole world needs a strong vaccination drive to put an end to the pandemic. The US government has selected needy countries for the vaccine donation drive.

Global NGOs like the UNICEF would be assisting WHO in disbursing vaccines through the COVAX program. Logistics and supply chain would be handled by Johnson & Johnson company. The world leaders have promised to reach the vaccine safely to needy countries of this world.



Researchers at Laussane University hospital discover a highly effective antibody against SARS-CoV-2


A newly discovered antibody was isolated from the lymphocytes of patients with COVID-19. These patients were enrolled in a research study conducted by Laussane University Hospital. This antibody has been found to be very powerful in fighting against SARS-CoV-2. After performing structural analysis of the antibody, the researchers found that it does not associate itself with mutations of the spiked protein.

The cells expressing the ACE2 receptor are prevented from binding to the spike protein by the newly discovered antibody. The COVID-19 virus uses the spike protein to enter the body and infect the cells of the lungs. This implies that the antibody fights against the replication of the virus, helping immune cells in eliminating SARS-CoV-2 from the human body.

In vivo tests confirmed the antiviral properties of the antibody, which was administered into some specimens that had contracted a high infection of the virus. This antibody offers a lasting effect of protection against coronavirus infection. In general, a conventional antibody can provide protection against infection for about 3-4 weeks.

But this antibody offers protection for about 4-6 months, making it an attractive treatment that prevents infection in unvaccinated people or in vaccinated people with compromised immunity. These patients, cancer patients, or those who have undergone organ transplantation in these times should receive at least two to three doses of antibody injections in a year. The clinical trial of the drug containing this new antibody would begin in the latter half of the year 2022.

In Europe, a lot of efforts have been made in drug discovery, especially in times of COVID-19 pandemic. This newly discovered antibody can be very effective in fighting COVID-19 infection. This new form of treatment should be made available in the form of a drug, enhancing protection of patients with weak immune systems. However, it may be noted that the antibody cannot be replacement to COVID-19 vaccines, which are still most effective in controlling the pandemic.



Most variants of coronavirus can be handled effectively by vaccines


According to researchers at the University of Yale, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are the most commonly used vaccines against coronavirus. These vaccines are quite effective in combating multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2, that is, the virus that causes COVID-19. These findings were recently published in the noted medical journal Nature. Moreover, it was found that following vaccination, people infected with coronavirus showed an immune response that was more robust to all variants of coronavirus. The recent Delta variant of the virus has been reported in vaccinated people, raising doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine.

The research study found that vaccines helped the immune system fight back effectively against even new variants of the infection by inducing the production of a large number of antibodies against new variants, including the Delta. Moreover, the authors of the study urged individuals to take two doses of the vaccine. Furthermore, individuals were also requested to take booster shots to combat variants, such as Delta of the virus. The study was conducted on 40 healthcare workers from November 2020 to January 2021. This study included subjects who had not been vaccinated at the start of the study. During the course of the study, several groups of participants received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines.

The blood samples of the participants were exposed to 16 different variants of SARS-COV-2 by researchers. The variants included the most powerful Delta variant, which is extensively circulating in the United States. Then, they measured the response of antibodies and T cells to all the variants. It must be noted that none of the participants were infected with the virus. In all the blood samples, the response of the immune cells was enhanced. Nevertheless, the intensity of the immune cell response depended on the variant and the participant. A robust response was noted in individuals exposed to Delta variant.

Breakthrough cases were those that showed an infection develop despite being vaccinated. These cases were caused by Delta variant but it does not mean that the vaccines failed in providing protection against coronavirus. Instead, it means that Delta variant was so infectious that it overcame the immune defense system of patient’s body. However, patients who had been vaccinated before contracting the infection showed a lesser severity in the infection. Compared to other variants, Delta is the most infectious one because it is highly transmissible. The participants were divided into groups: those who had been vaccinated before being infected with COVID-19 and those who had not been vaccinated.

The participants who had been infected before being vaccinated showed an immune response that was more robust than the participants who were not infected with the virus. The researchers were of the view that the robust immune response was like a first dose of the vaccine, recovering participants from their initial infection. The vaccinated participants should have received a booster shot, which would have increased the number of antibodies and T cells that offer protection against infections.



In hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the viral load was significantly reduced by ronapreve drug: clinical trial phase III results of Roche Diagnostics


Roche is a leading biopharmaceutical company that has spearheaded the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Its phase II/III clinical trial showed positive results when the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab drugs were administered to hospitalized patients of COVID-19. Ronapreve is the combined medication of casirivimab and imdevimab drugs.

The testing of this medication was successful as it significantly decreased the viral load of COVID-19 patients who consumed it for seven days. These patients were seronegative, that is, they did not exhibit any antibody response. Moreover, they were treated with low-flow supplemental oxygen.

The pandemic of COVID-19 has been devastating, accounting for more than 4.7 million deaths across the world. Most hospitalized patients succumbed to COVID-19 disease. Although vaccines are quite effective in preventing hospitalization of patients, a significant number of patients still are not vaccinated and their infection escalates, requiring hospitalization. The growing burden of healthcare systems has been eased out on the knowing the results of the latest clinical trial: ronapreve is quite effective in reducing the viral load of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

In the phase III clinical trial, it was found that Ronapreve medication is safe and effective on COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized and non-hospitalized. Moreover, it is also effective as a preventive medication. The clinical trial of Ronapreve was double-blinded and randomized. The effect of placebo was also measured in this clinical trial.

Among the 1197 patients included in the trial, 530 patients did not receive supplemental oxygen whereas the remaining 667 patients received oxygen at a low-flow rate. Besides ronapreve medication, all the confirmed cases of COVID-19 received standard care in the form of corticosteroids (75%) and remdesivir (55%).

The companies Roche and Regeneron have jointly synthesized and tested the drug ronapreve, which is a combined form of two monoclonal antibodies, namely, casirivimab and imdevimab. The drug design of ronapreve is such that it blocks SARS-CoV-2, that is, the pathogenic virus that leads to the development of COVID-19.




Healthcare workers do not develop COVID-19 symptoms after receiving mRNA vaccine


In clinical practice, healthcare workers may develop symptomatic COVID-19, so they are advised to take mRNA COVID vaccines as a recent study of researchers have found them to be very effective in preventing COVID-19. The study was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  In this study, the chances of developing symptoms of COVID-19 decreased as much as 89% in healthcare workers who received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Moderna vaccine was even more effective as it reduced the risk of developing COVID-19 by as much as 96%.

The researchers found that the vaccines were effective even in people above 50 years of age. Moreover, certain ethnic groups or racial groups who were more prone to developing COVID-19 were the ones who benefitted the most from vaccination drives. Healthcare workers who were exposed to COVID-19 patients also got immunity with vaccine. Finally, patients with underlying medical conditions benefitted from vaccines but the efficacy of the vaccine was lower in patients with compromised immunity.

The study was conducted by researchers working at the Carver College of Medicine, which is affiliated to the University of Iowa in the US. In this study, 5000 healthcare workers were evaluated: 1482 healthcare workers were found to be COVID-19 positive because they were having symptomatic illness. Moreover, 3449 healthcare workers had symptoms of COVID-19 but they were tested as negative. As many as 33 academic medical centers from the US participated in this study. The participants had to complete a survey questionnaire and provide information about their demographics, type of job, risk factors, severe disease associated with COVID-19, and the status of their vaccination.

Although all the subjects received two doses of mRNA vaccines, the risk of developing COVID-19 was reduced by 95% in Afro American subjects. On the other hand, the risk of COVID-19 declined by about 89% in Asian and Hispanic subjects and by about 94% in American Indian people. In subjects whose immunity was compromised with underlying disease, the risk of developing COVID-19 decreased by only 39%, regardless of whether they received a single dose or two doses of  mRNA vaccine. Among pregnant women who received mRNA vaccine, the risk of developing COVID-19 decreased by about 77%. Even a single dose of the vaccine was quite effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 as compared to those unvaccinated people. The study was conducted from December 2020 to May 2021.



The RTS,S/AS01e (RTS,S) malaria vaccine of GSK received WHO recommendation


The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) company’s RTS, S malaria vaccine for children who are prone to developing this disease, especially those living in sub-Sahara, African countries. It is in these countries that malaria has moderate to high high rate of transmission among children. The RTS, S is the first clinically proven vaccine that has significantly reduced the incidence of malaria in children. It took more than 30 years of intense research to develop this vaccine. The team of researchers worked at GSK and PATH companies.

GSK is working with PATH and other leading NGOs in Kenya, Malawi, and Ghana, regions with moderate to high rate of malaria transmission. In these African countries, the company is developing programs to provide easy access to RTS,S vaccine on a long term basis. For the pilot project, GSK would be donating as much as 10 million RTS,S doses and has planned to provide upto 15 million doses each year, following its widespread recommendation among the masses. Moreover, GSK is going to do technology transfer to Bharat Biotech company in India. This company would also be producing antigens on a long-term basis.

The recommendation by WHO is now considered an important milestone in the success of the vaccine RTS,S. In the August issue of New England Journal of Medicine, a key finding about the vaccine was published. The finding was based on a study conducted on 6,000 children in London, UK. The study was conducted by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In this study, the control group received seasonal doses of antimalarial drugs under the Season Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) program. The experimental group received SMC and RTS,S vaccine. The study was carried out for three years. The incidence of malaria and hospitalization due to malaria were reduced by as much as 70% in the experimental group.

The pilot program of Malaria vaccine was launched in the year 2019. In the three African countries of Kenya, Malawi, and Ghana, the antimalarial vaccination program was introduced successfully. These countries have moderate to high rates of transmission of malaria. More than 800,00 children were vaccinated with at least one dose. Presently, GSK team of researchers have dispersed more than 2.3 million doses of the vaccine. They have even emphasized on delivering the vaccine through the conventional immunization program for children.



Metastatic cancer can now be prevented and treated with plant virus


In Advanced Science journal, an important research study was published recently. Researchers at the University of California in San Diego made use of a plant virus to prevent metastatic cancer of lungs. This virus was found in plants of black-eyed peas. The growth of tumors was suppressed by treating the lungs with mice, who were suffering from metastatic cancer in breast tissue. Moreover, the plant virus also prevented the spread of this cancer to the lungs of mice afflicted with disease. Lung cancer is not just the most common metastatic cancer, it is also very dangerous and difficult to cure.

At the University of California in San Diego, researchers performed a successful experiment to control the metastatic form of lung cancer. Cowpea mosaic virus is a plant virus that they developed into the form of a body injection. Although the virus does not cause any harm to humans and animals, it is still considered as a foreign body that invades the host. Consequently, it triggers an effective immune response to fight cancer in the body of the patient.

The patient’s immune system is boosted by the plant virus as it tries to identify and destroy cancer cells, which are attacking the lungs. The virus does not cause any infection in the patient’s body. At the same time, the immune cells are alarmed and they go to search and attack the incoming pathogen. To elicit such an immune response from lung tumors, researchers synthesized nanoparticles from cowpea mosaic virus. These nanoparticles effectively attacked proteins in the lungs.

The infection in the lungs was fought back by immune cells, which secreted and expressed the protein S100A9. Researchers decided to target this protein because the growth and spread of tumors was triggered by an overexpression of the protein S100A9. They used nanoparticles to target the metastasis in the lung, thereby making their novel immunotherapy successful. The nanoparticles bind with immune cells that attack tumor cells in the lungs.

The microenvironment of tumor cells in the lungs is changed by localized nanoparticles, which effectively destroy not just well defined tumors but also prevent the growth of future tumors. Researchers synthesized nanoparticles by infecting black-eyed pea plants with cowpea mosaic virus in the lab. The harvested virus appeared in the form of spherical shaped nanoparticles. The target protein molecules S100A9 were then attached to the surface of nanoparticles. The study was successful in both the prevention and treatment of metastatic lung cancer.


Researchers discover the mechanism of drug targets for COVID-19


In the latest issue of the journal Molecular Cell, a team of researchers from McGill University have uncovered the underlying mechanism through which drug targets control the progression of several inflammatory diseases, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and COVID1-9. These researchers have deciphered how cell receptors function within a patient’s body.

Whenever pathogens such as viruses attack human body, the body elicits defense mechanism. The complement system of cell receptors plays a pivotal role in eliciting a defensive response towards antagonistic pathogens. The pathogens that enter our body can either be bacteria or viruses. In the presence of a virulent attack, the complement system activates two membrane receptors, namely, C5aR1 and C5aR2. These were the findings of the international team of researchers.

Although the complement system should be activated in the presence of pathogens, there can be instances where the activation is excessive and uncontrolled. This is a dangerous situation as it can cause inflammation and even life-threatening complications in patients with COVID-19. Latest genetic technologies such as CRISPR are cutting-edge tools to unravel the exact functioning of C5Ar2 membrane receptor of cells, which were also observed through cryogenic electronic microscope. With this information, researchers identified therapeutic drug targets of COVID-19.

According to a noted medical professor, COVID-19 cases can be treated by blocking the activated expression of C5aR1 membrane receptor of cells. Moreover, Avdoralimab is a clinically tested drug that showed high efficacy in tackling severe pneumonia of COVID-19 patients. On the other hand, our current team of researchers were focused on targeting the expression of C5Ar2. For this purpose, they designed novel drug molecules that effectively clung to the receptor C5Ar2, blocking its activated expression and suppressing the related inflammation.

In molecular biology, it is a well-known fact that receptors surround human body cells. These receptors serve as drug targets, that is, the active ingredient of the drug exerts its pharmacological action on receptors, which also function as messengers. In other words, signals are transmitted and received by receptors of cells, which govern various physiological mechanisms in the human body. With the help of latest genetic technologies, our researchers could uncover important information pertaining to novel drug discovery and cell signaling processes.



According to Cleveland Clinic, severe COVID-19 disease can be effectively controlled by steroid nasal sprays


Recently, a study conducted by Cleveland Clinic was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. According to this study, severe COVID-19 infection was less likely to develop in subjects who used steroidal nasal sprays on a regular basis. These sprays were so effective that they reduced the chances of hospitalization and mortality by as much as 25%. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic investigated 72,147 cases of COVID-19: all the patients were 18 years and above in terms of age. This is a very recent study that was conducted between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

The study cohort of patients included 12,608 hospitalized cases. Among them, as much as 2,935 cases were admitted to intensive care unit (ICU). Finally, the number of patients who died in hospital included 1,880. Interestingly, as much as 10, 187 patients were regularly using steroidal nasal sprays, which are nothing but corticosteroids administered through intranasal route. These patients used nasal sprays even before getting infected with COVID-19. Therefore, the chances of hospitalization declined by as much as 22% in these patients. Moreover, the need for ICU admission decreased by about 23% in these patients. Finally, the chances of dying in the hospital decreased by about 24%, as compared to patients who did not use steroidal nasal sprays.

These findings are quite encouraging to patients who regularly used intranasal corticosteroids. However, it does not mean that these corticosteroids are quite effective in treating and preventing COVID-19 disease. Yes, this seems contradictory but true. But several reports have endorsed the fact that in vitro use of intranasal corticosteroid would effective reduce the expression of ACE2, a protein receptor associated with SARS-CoV-2 virus. Thus, the virus would enter the cells and cause the spread of COVID-19. Nasal sprays contain corticosteroids, which belong to steroidal family of drugs. These nasal sprays are usually inhaled to control several nasal infections, such as stuffy nose, allergies, severe cold, etc.

Intranasal corticosteroids are either sold over the counter or with the help of prescription. However, researchers still do not know the exact mechanism through which these nasal sprays control COVID-19 infection. The findings of this study were coupled with the fact that the expression of ACE2 was highest in the mucosal lining of the nose. Based on this, researchers developed the following hypothesis: the viral load and the expression of ACE2 receptor can be suppressed in the nose with the use of intranasal corticosteroids, making them quite effective against severe COVID-19 infection. However, future studies must be conducted to validate the hypothesis.