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Monday, November 30, 2020
In severe cases of COVID-19 disease, not only classic immune cells play a role. In particular, the release of immature precursor cells from the bone marrow into the blood indicates a particularly severe course of the disease and could contribute to complications. This has been shown by an international research team involving the DFG Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI). The team included physicians and researchers from Kiel University (CAU), the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) and the Universities of Bonn, Cologne, Luebeck, Tuebingen and Nijmegen as well as the Research Center Borstel—Leibniz Lung Center and the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Disorders (DZNE), together with colleagues from the national DFG research association DeCOI. The findings have been published in the journal Immunity on Thursday, November 26th.
In search of a biomarker for a severe COVID-19 course
Cancer researchers fear advances for patients could be delayed by almost a year and a half because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey reveals.
Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, told the survey that their own research advances would be pushed back by an average of six months by the initial lockdown, subsequent restrictions on laboratory capacity and the closure of national scientific facilities.
A team of researchers at Laval University has found evidence that it might be possible to the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease by editing a key gene in nerve cells. In their paper uploaded to the bioRxiv preprint server, the group describes experiments they conducted that involved editing genes and what they learned from them.
Prior research has shown that one of the factors involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease is a buildup of beta-amyloid—a type of protein—on brain cells. Prior research has also shown that some people have a gene variant called A673T—those who express it are four times less likely than the general populace to develop Alzheimer's disease. In this new effort, the researchers looked into the possibility of editing human brain cells to give people the gene variant A673T and thereby reduce their chances of developing Alzheimer's disease.
In the COVID-19 era, under relaxed federal emergency orders, licensed clinicians have been able to prescribe opioid analgesics for their patients even if they've only ever seen the patient via telehealth, rather than in person.
A slowing recovery and a surging pandemic mean the United States is entering a “challenging” few months, with the potential deployment of a vaccine still facing the hurdles of production and mass distribution before its impact on the economy becomes clear, Fed chair Jerome Powell said on Monday.
Amgen Inc, UCB SA and Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc on Monday launched a global trial to identify whether any of three different drugs can reduce the severity of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients by moderating the immune system's response to the disease.
The drugmakers are part of the COVID Research & Development Alliance, a group of more than 20 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies cooperating to speed development of therapies for the disease that has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
The study initially will test whether Amgen’s psoriasis drug Otezla, Takeda’s experimental anti-inflammatory lanadelumab, and UCB's experimental immune system-inhibitor zilucoplan can prevent the body's own defenses from overreacting to the coronavirus, which can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, tissue and organ damage.
The three compounds "have a plausible biologic rationale in terms of effect on immune response or the hyper-immune response that some people develop," said Amgen research chief David Reese.
"We hope to find options that could potentially save lives ... before widespread availability of a vaccine,” he said.
Health experts do not expect vaccines to be available to most people until well into 2021. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations are at record levels in the United States, threatening to overwhelm health systems.
The multiple candidates will be tested against a placebo with all trial patients also receiving standard care. Other drugs that work in a variety of ways, including antivirals, medicines that also modulate immune response and vascular agents may enter the study in coming months.
So far, only a generic class of steroids used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in diseases such as arthritis has been shown in a controlled study to improve survival for severely ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Steroids are not recommended for patients with less severe illness.
The COVID R&D trial will enroll both hospitalized intensive care unit and non-ICU patients.
In anticipation of a rise and fall of COVID-19 cases in various geographic regions, the trial will include sites in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and other countries.
“COVID is not confined to one country ... We have included a broad range of different countries," said Dhavalkumar Patel, UCB's chief scientific officer.