Healthcare workers prepare themselves to collect swab samples (Representative image) | PTI
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New Delhi: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage through the world, scientists are making new revelations about the virus every day.

Here are some of the latest research developments on the Covid-19 front.

Trials to check if immune-booster can keep Covid away from cancer patients 

Scientists in Canada have launched clinical trials focussed on strengthening the immune system for cancer patients — one of the most vulnerable populations — to protect them from Covid-19.

The trial involves IMM-101, an inactivated bacteria that broadly stimulates the innateimmune system, which is the first to kick in when the body encounters a novel pathogen.

The researchers hope that boosting cancer patients’ immune systems with IMM-101 will protect them from developing severe Covid-19 and other dangerous lung infections.

The researchers said that an effective vaccine providing specific protection against Covid-19 could take another year or more to develop. Meanwhile, they believe the IMM-101 may be able to protect cancer patients from developing a serious Covid infection.

Also read: Asthma does not increase risk or severity of Covid-19, says new study

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Covid-19 causing brain complications across the world

A review of Covid-19 patients has shown that cases of brain complications linked to the coronavirus infection, such as confusion, stroke and inflammation of the brain, are occurring across the globe.

Published in The Lancet Neurology, the study has found that strokes, delirium and other neurological complications have been reported from most countries with large outbreaks of the disease.

The infection caused by the novel coronavirus has been mostly associated with problems such as difficulty in breathing, fever and cough. However, it is now becoming clear that other problems can also occur in patients.

For this study, researchers analysed findings from Covid-19 studies across the globe that reported on neurological complications. The review included studies from China, Italy and the US. It found nearly 1,000 patients with Covid-19-associated brain, spinal cord and nerve diseases.

While these complications are uncommon, the large number of Covid-19 cases globally means the overall number of patients with neurological problems is also likely to be high.

Natural molecules in body could help manage Covid-19

Naturally occurring molecules called resolvins can be harnessed to control the life-threatening immune reaction, called a cytokine storm, in Covid-19 patients, scientists have said.

A cytokine storm is when the body’s immune system overreacts and begins attacking healthy cells too.

The cytokine storm in Covid-19 patients can lead to respiratory failure, organ damage and potential death.

In a study published in the Cancer and Metastasis Reviews, researchers have said that controlling the local and systemic inflammatory response in Covid-19 may be as important as anti-viral therapies.

They suggest that a family of molecules naturally produced by the human body may be harnessed to resolve inflammation in patients with severe Covid-19. This would reduce the acute respiratory distress and other life-threatening complications associated with the viral infection.

Resolvins can actively turn off inflammation. Researchers have previously demonstrated that resolvins and related molecules can play a role in preventing cancer metastasis and progression.

These are current clinical trials on these molecules, to look at their use against other inflammatory diseases. Scientists have suggested that they could be re-deployed for the management of Covid-19.

New study may explain why kids are less affected by Covid-19

Scientists have identified the differences in lung physiology and immune function in children that could explain why they are less susceptible to severe Covid-19 illness than adults.

Published in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, the study suggests that children naturally have less ACE2 in the lungs than adults. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2s, called ACE2, allow SARS-CoV-2 to enter the body’s cells.

According to the study, only about 1.7 per cent of the first 1,49,082 cases in the US were under 18 years of age.

The findings from the study require further examination, and may hold the key to identifying therapeutic agents, researchers have said.

Loneliness, conflict make people vulnerable to respiratory illnesses

Months of self-isolation and social distancing can trigger stressors in the body that increase vulnerability to upper respiratory viruses and perhaps coronavirus, a study has suggested.

To slow the spread of coronavirus, many communities issued stay-at-home measures, increasing interpersonal stressors like loneliness, loss of employment and familial conflict.

According to an article published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science, these stressors may be powerful predictors of how a person will respond if exposed to coronavirus.

In a series of studies, researchers found that participants experiencing interpersonal stressors had a greater chance of developing upper respiratory illnesses when exposed to cold viruses.

Interpersonal stressors might play a similar role in response to the coronavirus, increasing a person’s vulnerability to Covid-19.

The study indicates that social support may offer a protective shield against respiratory infection and illness.

Also read: CanSino, Moderna, Novavax: A list of Covid vaccines under clinical trials across the world 


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