“Heroes Health” Mental Wellness App Launched by UNC School of Medicine & UNC Health – Business Wire

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The UNC School of Medicine (SOM) and UNC Health have launched the Heroes Health Initiative to help support the mental health of first responders and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The app is available through the App Store/Google Play Store in the United States, free of charge to first responders, healthcare workers and their organizations.

For individual healthcare workers, the Heroes Health app delivers short mental health self-assessments each week, and displays symptom summary reports to help them better understand the state of their own mental health—and changes over time. The app also provides links to immediate support and mental health resources, emphasizing free and low-cost services.

For healthcare organizations that partner with the Heroes Health Initiative, the app provides a way to perform proactive worker outreach and the aggregate data necessary to identify times when/areas where more worker support is needed. Developed by the UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery, Google Cloud and volunteers across Alphabet, the university’s Heroes Health app and its launch was made possible by generous support from donors including One Mind, The Rockefeller Foundation, Bank of America, Lauder Foundation, and individuals.

How it works

For individual first responders and healthcare workers

Individual healthcare workers who choose to participate in the initiative download the free Heroes Health app to their iOS (Apple) or Android-compatible smartphone. Each week, the app notifies workers that a brief mental health symptom assessment is available, and evaluates symptoms in key domains such as sleep, stress, anxiety/worry, and sadness/depression.

Immediately after completing the survey, workers can view a summary report of their symptoms, and trends in their symptoms over time. The app also provides links to get immediate crisis support and other mental health resources, e.g. to improve sleep and stress. This resource list focuses on apps and services that are either free or offered at reduced costs to healthcare workers. The UNC website also lists mental health resources and discounts for healthcare workers on goods and services. Heroes Health receives no financial benefit or support from the goods or services listed.

For first responder and healthcare worker organizations

For organizations who partner with Heroes Health, the initiative helps the organization support their workers in several other ways. First, anonymous group-level summaries and trends in the mental health of workers in the organization, for different types of workers and units, are shared with unit and organizational leaders each week, to help them identify times/organizational areas that would benefit from additional support.

In addition, worker feedback on organizational communication and support to workers are provided to leadership each week, providing a valuable opportunity for workers to be heard during very stressful times. Finally, workers have the option to confidentially share their individual mental health summaries with an organizational mental health worker. This provides the organizational mental health worker with the opportunity to contact workers having symptoms to offer thanks and support, a conversation, or help setting up an appointment with a mental health professional. For workers in organizations partnering with Heroes Health, the contact number for this mental health support worker is also listed in the app, so that they can contact them for confidential support and resources.

How it started

Dr. McLean and UNC School of Medicine

The Heroes Health Initiative was founded by UNC School of Medicine physician Dr. Samuel McLean, Research Vice-Chair in the Department of Anesthesiology and an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine. As a practicing emergency physician and COVID-19 unit worker, and COVID-19 survivor who contracted COVID-19 and infected two of his family members, Dr. McLean understands firsthand the great challenges COVID workers face.

“First responders and healthcare workers are facing a lot of challenges right now,” Dr. McLean said. “There is the personal risk of severe illness or death. Much worse, there is the anxiety and fear of infecting loved ones. This an even greater challenge for first responders or health workers who live with someone particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. It’s important to give first responders and healthcare workers a simple, quick way to regularly check in on their mental health and immediately find resources. It is also important to provide organizations with tools that help empower them to care for each other.”

Academic collaborators

From his work as an NIH-funded researcher, Dr. McLean had experience performing smartphone-based mental health assessments from thousands of trauma survivors. He contacted a close collaborator, Ron Kessler, PhD, McNeil Family Professor at Harvard Medical School, and the two of them designed a brief smartphone-based assessment, using well-validated questionnaires, to assess key domains affecting COVID-19 workers, including sleep, stress, anxiety/worry, and sadness and depressive symptoms. McLean also enlisted a team of other collaborators who worked to develop the project, including:

  • Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, James and Patricia Poitras Chair in Psychiatry at Harvard University
  • Christopher Jones, MD, a frontline emergency physician and head of clinical research at Cooper University Health
  • Francesca Beaudoin, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Brown University
  • Karestan Koenen, PhD, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Harvard University School of Public Health
  • Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, Meymandi Distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina.

Support from Google, One Mind, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Bank of America

Dr. McLean needed a technology partner to help build the app for the initiative. Alphabet was a natural choice since Dr. McLean’s lab was already using Google Cloud. Volunteers from Google and X (Alphabet’s “moonshot factory”) donated their time to develop the app, and Google Cloud is providing free credits from their academic research program. The Heroes Health app is built on Google Cloud’s implementation of the FDA’s open-source MyStudies platform, allowing it to scale based on demand.

Technical support was also provided by the Boston Technology Corporation. The app, which is operated by UNC School of Medicine, is HIPAA compliant and takes advantage of Google Cloud’s robust security and privacy protections to protect user data.

“Heroes Health is the first initiative to focus on the mental health of COVID-19 healthcare workers, who are under extreme pressure in this pandemic. Our volunteers were honored to be able to support such a worthwhile and important initiative,” says Obi Felten, head of getting moonshots ready for contacts with the real world at X.

National mental health and brain health research nonprofit One Mind has supported Dr. McLean’s ongoing trauma research work, including the AURORA study. One Mind has been helping to raise financial support for the Heroes Health Initiative. “Healthcare workers are working long hours in highly contagious environments, often without adequate safety equipment, and are expected to make life-saving decisions while deprioritizing their own health and the health of their families,” said One Mind President Brandon Staglin. “These demands place an enormous amount of stress on the physical and mental health of COVID-19 healthcare workers. Heroes Health will provide mental health support for our front-line caregivers and is an important demonstration of how private sector innovation is essential in our response to the pandemic.”

The Rockefeller Foundation has also been a key supporter. “Healthcare workers show up every day to battle COVID-19 and keep us all safe. It’s grueling work,” said Zia Khan Senior Vice President, Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation. “The Rockefeller Foundation, having supported public health innovations for over 100 years, is proud to join with Google and One Mind to support the UNC School of Medicine as they launch Heroes Health to extend mental health support to these frontline workers.”

“As a community and country it is important to come together to support those on the frontline taking care of our citizens with coronavirus,” said Bank of America North Carolina Market President Charles Bowman. “It was an easy decision to partner with The Rockefeller Foundation to fund an application of this type that will be valuable now and in the future to ensure healthcare workers can self-monitor and have access to the support and services they need and deserve.”

Public support for Heroes Health App

The public can contribute to the ongoing support and national availability for Heroes Health by donating via this fundraising page.

New aluminium solar panel could be used to produce clean drinking water – Siliconrepublic.com

A specially designed solar panel placed in contaminated water sources could efficiently use sunlight to create drinking water.

Researchers funded by the US Army believe they have found a way to create an inexpensive device to not only provide clean drinking water to soldiers, but to address the global water crisis in developing nations. Writing in Nature Sustainability, the University of Rochester researchers said their breakthrough is based on laser processing technology that turns regular aluminium pitch black.

This makes it highly absorptive and super-wicking, meaning it can carry water uphill against gravity. It can then be applied towards solar water purification using an aluminium solar panel.

When the solar panel is dipped in water at an angle facing the sun, it draws a thin film of water upwards over the metal’s surface. At the same time, the blackened surface retains almost 100pc of the energy it absorbs from the sun to quickly heat the water. Furthermore, the wicking surface structures change the inter-molecular bonds of the water, increasing the efficiency of the evaporation process even further.

‘Inexpensive way to address global water crisis’

“These three things together enable the technology to operate better than an ideal device at 100pc efficiency,” said Prof Chunlei Guo. “This is a simple, durable, inexpensive way to address the global water crisis, especially in developing nations.”

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Lab testing showed the device could reduce the presence of common contaminants such as urine, heavy metals and dyes to safe levels for drinking.

The researchers said that until now, the most common method of solar-based water evaporation is volume heating. This heats large volumes of water, which only evaporates the top layer. Instead, this latest solar panel innovation pulls a thin layer of water out of a reservoir and directly onto the solar absorber surface for heating and evaporation.

“Moreover, because we use an open-grooved surface, it is very easy to clean by simply spraying it,” Chunlei said.

“The biggest advantage is that the angle of the panels can be continuously adjusted to directly face the sun as it rises and then moves across the sky before setting – maximising energy absorption.”

Blackburn could face tighter coronavirus restrictions in two weeks – BBC News

Covid-19

Image caption

Mass testing in Blackburn began at the weekend following a spike in infections

Tighter lockdown restrictions could be introduced in Blackburn following a spike in coronavirus cases.

People in the town will be asked to limit visitors from another household to two, compared with looser rules elsewhere.

The area’s public health director said stronger measures would be imposed in two weeks if the number of cases did not fall.

Mass testing began at the weekend after 61 new cases sprang up within a week.

Figures show Blackburn with Darwen now has 41 new cases per 100,000, up from 29.5.

Leicester, where a local lockdown has been imposed, has seen the rate fall from 156.8 in the seven days to 26 June, to 114.3 in the seven days to 10 July.

The second highest rate is in Pendle, Lancashire, where it has gone up from 14.2 to 67.8.

Image caption

A worker in protective equipment in Blackburn

Director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen, Prof Dominic Harrison, said there would also be “targeted work” after a rise in infections within the South Asian community.

He said there had been “cluster infections”, particularly with “families in small terraced houses”.

Prof Harrison said that when “one person gets infected in a multi-generational household, all the household members are getting infected”.

He warned: “If the numbers aren’t coming down within a two-week period, we will probably need to go into a reversal of some of the lockdown measures.”

Information videos are being produced in English, Urdu and Gujurati to spread the message in the former mill town.

“One of the things we don’t want to do is to get in a situation like Leicester where everything is open to where everything is shut,” Prof Harrison said.

Faz Patel, from the Lancashire council of Mosques, remarked that “young people are going out not realising they can be carriers and then going back home to see their elderly parents”.

Image caption

Families in Blackburn’s Asian community will be asked to allow only two people from another household into their homes

Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to northwest.newsonline@bbc.co.uk

Israel: More than 12000 soldiers quarantined over possible coronavirus infections – Middle East Monitor

The Israeli army yesterday said that more than 12,000 soldiers have been quarantined, fearing “possible infection of the novel coronavirus”.

In an official statement, the military pointed out that “568 soldiers have contracted the virus since February.”

Infection rates among Israeli soldiers were reported to have increased significantly since the beginning of June as Israel was hit by a second wave of the disease.

The Israeli Health Ministry recently said that a total of 38,670 Israelis had contracted the virus, 362 of whom had died.

COVID-19 has infected over 13 million people globally and claimed over 570,000 lives across 188 countries since it came to light in China in December. The virus was labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Top Israel health official: Tel Aviv protests ‘mega health terror attack’

Single Dose of Tocilizumab Linked to 45% Lower Risk of Dying Among COVID-19 Patients on Ventilators – Technology Networks

Critically ill COVID-19 patients who received a single dose of a drug that calms an overreacting immune system were 45% less likely to die overall, and more likely to be out of the hospital or off a ventilator one month after treatment, compared with those who didn’t receive the drug, according to a new study by a team from the University of Michigan.

The lower risk of death in patients who received intravenous tocilizumab happened despite the fact that they were also twice as likely to develop an additional infection, on top of the novel coronavirus.

The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Infectious Diseases after being available as a preprint last month.

It suggests a benefit from timely and targeted efforts to calm the “cytokine storm” caused by the immune system’s overreaction to the coronavirus. Tocilizumab, originally designed for rheumatoid arthritis, has already been used to calm such storms in patients receiving advanced immunotherapy treatment for cancer.

The researchers base their conclusions on a thorough look back at data from 154 critically ill patients treated at Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center, during the first six weeks of the pandemic’s arrival in Michigan from early March to late April. The analysis looked at patients’ records through late May.

During that time, when little was known about what would help COVID-19 patients on ventilators, about half of the studied patients received tocilizumab and half did not. Most received it within the 24-hour period surrounding their intubation.

This created a natural opportunity for comparing the two groups’ outcomes in an observational study, though clinical trials are still needed to truly see if the drug provides a benefit, the authors say.

Promising result

Lead author Emily Somers, Ph.D., Sc.M., an epidemiologist who has studied both rheumatologic and immunologic diseases, says the research team went into their analysis uncertain whether they would find a benefit, a risk, or no clear effect associated with tocilizumab in the patients with life-threatening COVID-19. But they knew it was a critically important question that they were uniquely positioned to answer at that point in the pandemic.

“One role of epidemiology is to rigorously evaluate real-world data on treatment effects, especially when evidence from clinical trials is not available. We kept trying to prove ourselves wrong as signals of benefit emerged in the data, both because of the immediate implications of these data, and in part because of concern about the supply of the medication for other patients,” she says. “But the difference in mortality despite the increase in secondary infection is quite pronounced, even after accounting for many other factors.”

Somers is an associate professor in the U-M Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine and member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. She co-leads the COVID-19 Rapid Response Registry, which is supported by the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research.

The paper’s co-first author is Gregory Eschenauer, Pharm.D., a clinical pharmacist at Michigan Medicine and clinical associate professor at the U-M College of Pharmacy. He and senior author Jason Pogue, Pharm.D., are members of the Michigan Medicine Antimicrobial Stewardship Program.

The ASP group developed treatment guidelines provided to Michigan Medicine physicians in mid-March that identified tocilizumab as a potentially beneficial therapy for the most severely ill COVID-19 patients. Those guidelines also pointed out its risks and the lack of evidence for its use in COVID-19, and recommended a dose of 8 milligrams per kilogram.

This led some physicians to choose to use it, while others did not – setting the stage inadvertently for a natural comparison.

More research needed

Pogue, clinical professor at the U-M College of Pharmacy and an infectious disease pharmacist at Michigan Medicine, notes that more robust data released in June from a large randomized controlled trial in the United Kingdom has led him to recommend the steroid dexamethasone as the first choice to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“For a retrospective, single-center study, our data are robust. But at this time, due to the lack of randomized controlled trial data and the much higher cost, we recommend reserving tocilizumab for the treatment of select patients who decompensate while on or after receiving dexamethasone or in patients where the risks of adverse events from steroid therapy outweigh the potential benefits” says Pogue.

“Further studies of tocilizumab, which is more targeted than dexamethasone in addressing the hyperinflammatory process, could include combining these agents or comparing them head-to-head,” he adds.

Pogue notes that a single dose of tocilizumab is roughly 100 times more expensive than a course of dexamethasone. He also notes that another drug that aims to treat cytokine storm by targeting the interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor – one called sarilumab – appears to have failed to improve outcomes in a clinical trial in COVID-19 patients including those on ventilators.

Michigan Medicine had been participating in the sarilumab study at the time the patients in the current study were treated, but not all patients qualified because of the timing of their admission or issues around testing for COVID-19. The current study does not include any patients who received sarilumab.

If the evidence around IL-6 targeting bears out in further studies, the authors note that it will be important to select the dose and timing carefully, to address the cytokine storm without interfering with IL-6’s other roles in activating the body’s response to infections and its processes for repairing tissue.

More about the study

The majority of the patients were transferred to U-M from Detroit-area hospitals after diagnosis with COVID-19, and those who received tocilizumab were less likely overall to have been transferred while already on a ventilator.

By the end of the 28-day period after patients went on a ventilator, 18% of those who received tocilizumab had died, compared with 36% of those who had not. When adjusted for health characteristics, this represents a 45% reduction in mortality. Of those still in the hospital at the end of the study period, 82% of the tocilizumab patients had come off the ventilator, compared with 53% of those who didn’t receive the drug.

In all, 54% of the tocilizumab patients developed a secondary infection, mostly ventilator associated pneumonia; 26% of those who didn’t receive tocilizumab developed such infections. Such “superinfections” usually reduce the chance of survival for COVID-19 patients.

Hydroxychloroquine was included in the treatment guidelines for COVID-19 inpatients at Michigan Medicine for the first two and a half weeks of the study period, before being removed as evidence of its lack of benefit and risks emerged. In all, it was used in one-quarter of the patients who received tocilizumab and one-fifth of those who didn’t. Similar percentages of the two patient groups received steroids, though none received dexamethasone.

The patients in the two groups were similar in most ways except for a slightly higher average age in the non-tocilizumab group, and lower rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease among the tocilizumab patients.

Reference: Somers, et al. (2020) Tocilizumab for treatment of mechanically ventilated patients with COVID-19. Clinical Infectious Diseases, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa954

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

UK could see up to 120,000 additional coronavirus deaths this winter, scientists warn – CNBC

A Rehab Support worker checks on patient notes as the first patients are admitted to the NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court, Surrey, a disused military hospital, which has been converted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Victoria Jones | PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K. government must prepare for a potential new wave of Covid-19 infections that may be more serious than the first, a group of scientists has said, warning that the country could see nearly 120,000 further coronavirus deaths this winter.

In a report published Tuesday, an advisory group of 37 experts from the Academy of Medical Sciences stressed that “intense preparation” was urgently needed throughout the rest of July and August to reduce the risk of the National Health Service being overwhelmed this winter.

Their modeling suggests Covid-19 infections in the U.K. will rise again in the fall and peak in January and February, the busiest time of year for the NHS.

In a worst-case scenario, the experts said there could be 119,900 additional hospital deaths this winter — at least double the number from the first wave.

The models do not consider the use of drugs, treatments or potential vaccines. It also excludes deaths in care homes and the community.

To date, the U.K. has recorded more than 291,000 cases of the coronavirus, with 44,915 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The “Preparing for a challenging winter 2020/2021” report was requested by Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, to model a “reasonable” worst-case scenario.

“The modelling suggests that deaths could be higher with a new wave of Covid-19 this winter, but the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately,” Stephen Holgate, a respiratory scientist from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said in the report.

“With relatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases at the moment, this is a critical window of opportunity to help us prepare for the worst that winter can throw at us,” he added.

Holgate, who chaired the report, said the findings were not a prediction of what is likely to happen, but a scenario of what may happen if the virus is allowed to surge and little is done to protect the NHS and social care services.

‘Losing gains’

The report calls for a public information campaign, a reorganization of health and social care staff facilities to ensure Covid-19-free zones, and increased capacity of the country’s “test, trace and isolate” program.

It also says the U.K. government should consider a “comprehensive, near-real-time, population-wide surveillance system to monitor and manage a winter wave.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a daily briefing to update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain June 3, 2020.

Andrew Parsons | 10 Downing St | via Reuters

Health experts have said previously that they expect cooler weather conditions in winter to trigger a more intense transmission of the Covid-19 infection, saying the disease was “very likely” to show a similar seasonal pattern to other coronaviruses.

In winter, people tend to spend more time indoors clustered together, with less ventilation and less personal space than in summer.

Respiratory infections, such as coronaviruses, are spread by droplets that are released when a person coughs or sneezes. And, health experts say colder and drier conditions in winter strongly affects the transmission of flu-like illnesses.

The World Health Organization said last week it was also reviewing new evidence on whether the coronavirus can spread through particles in the air.

“Every winter we see an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital and in the number of people dying in the U.K.,” Anne Johnson, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London and vice president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said in the report.

“This is due to a combination of seasonal infections such as flu, and the effects of colder weather, for example, on heart and lung conditions,” Johnson continued. “This winter we have to factor in the likelihood of another wave of coronavirus infections and the ongoing impacts of the first wave. We have to be prepared that we might also experience a flu epidemic this year.”

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus talks during a daily press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquaters in Geneva on March 11, 2020.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

The WHO has previously warned world leaders that the pandemic is still not under control and is getting worse.

Speaking at a news conference from the health agency’s Geneva headquarters on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction.”

He said it appeared many countries were “losing gains” because proven measures to reduce the risk were either not implemented or followed.

More than 13.1 million people had contracted the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with 573,042 deaths due to the virus worldwide.

Reduce esketamine price to manage treatment-resistant depression – Health Europa

Reduce esketamine price to manage treatment-resistant depression 
iStock-MJ_Prototype

Researchers are hoping their new paper will encourage policymakers, insurers, and healthcare leaders to work to reduce the price of esketamine nasal spray to help manage treatment-resistant depression.

Researchers from McLean Hospital have examined the cost-effectiveness of esketamine nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression – suggesting that the cost is currently too expensive for widespread use.

The paper ‘Cost-Effectiveness of Esketamine Nasal Spray for Patients With Treatment-Resistant Depression in the United States’, has been published in Psychiatric Services.

Esketamine is an effective treatment

The study compared the costs and benefits of esketamine, which is an antidepressant in the form of a nasal spray, and which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year for treating resistant major depressive disorder.

Author Eric Ross, MD, said: “Most medications don’t work as well for people with treatment-resistant depression. Esketamine has been effective in a population where many other treatments haven’t worked.

“I want people to use esketamine, but it’s important that it be cost-effective. I don’t want it to put a real strain on our mental health care system. Esketamine is too expensive, but it does work. The question now is ‘how do we get the price down?’”

Determining cost-effectiveness

Ross and colleagues used a ‘decision-analytic model’ to simulate the effects of treatment with esketamine versus oral antidepressants over five years, looking at both societal and health care sector perspectives.

The study findings demonstrated that esketamine was projected to improve quality of life by increasing time in remission for patients. Societal costs and healthcare sector costs, however, were projected to go up substantially, concluding that the price of esketamine must fall by more than 40%.

Ross said that he hopes the paper will encourage policymakers, insurers, and health care leaders to work to reduce the price of esketamine and make it more available to those in need. He said: “At the end of the day, it’s not about saving money. The goal is to make sure we’re getting the most clinical benefit we can for the money we spend.”

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Strengthening the Bodys Defenses Against Adenoviruses – Technology Networks

Infection with adenoviruses can be life-threatening, especially for children after a stem cell transplant. Virologists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have now been able to show that an already approved drug from cancer treatment could help against the viral infection. Due to the special mechanism of action of the drug, the virus cannot develop defense strategies.

The so-called human adenoviruses cause, among other things, conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal complaints or pneumonia. In most cases, a disease develops in healthy adults without or with mild symptoms. “Every adult has usually gone through several adenovirus infections,” explains Dr. Sabrina carpenter. She works at the Institute of Virology at TUM and the Helmholtz Zentrum München. The human viruses, of which there are currently more than 85 different variants, were previously not considered to be particularly dangerous.

No drug or vaccination available yet

However, people with a weakened immune system can experience severe and fatal courses of the infection. A disease is particularly dangerous for children after a stem cell transplant. In this case, the mortality in the infected patient is as high as 80 percent.

“Since 2006 it has also been known that adenovirus infections also occur in healthy people, which can cause severe pneumonia with fatal consequences,” says Schreiner. So far, there is no drug that works specifically against adenoviruses. There are also no vaccinations for the normal population.


Protein complexes with antiviral function

Schreiner and her team investigate how the virus multiplies in the cell. They observed that the so-called PML core bodies, a complex of several proteins in the cell, change significantly when they are infected with adenoviruses.

The otherwise round structures dissolve and elongated fibrils develop. “It is believed that the PML core bodies have an antiviral function,” explains Schreiner. “The viruses destroy the round structures of the protein complexes and then use this manipulation of the cell for their own reproduction.”

The body’s own defense is strengthened

The scientists noticed that the structures of the PML core bodies in cancer patients were also dissolved. However, if the patients were treated with ATO (arsenic trioxide), the round structures regressed. “ATO is a well-known active ingredient that has been approved and is currently used in the clinic for leukemia patients,” explains Schreiner.

The researchers tested the effect of the drug on cell cultures infected with adenoviruses. In fact, the PML core bodies again formed round structures here, the virus concentration decreased. “So we can actually restore these endogenous antiviral factories that then fight the virus,” says Schreiner.

Virus has no direct contact with the active ingredient

After the test in the laboratory, the drug will also be used in the next step in patients infected with adenoviruses. The virologists are in contact with pediatricians in clinics in Munich. Since the drug is already approved, it can be used directly for treatment. “Although it is an arsenic-containing compound, it does not have any cell-toxic side effects in the concentrations in which it is used and has already been approved,” says Schreiner.

The peculiarity of this drug: It affects the cell’s structures, not directly against the virus. “It is often the case that viruses develop resistance to drugs that attack them directly,” explains Schreiner. “For example, they can mutate so that the drug no longer recognizes them. Since the virus has no direct interaction with the active ingredient in this case, it cannot develop any defense mechanisms. “

Reference
Samuel Hofmann, Julia Mai, Sawinee Masser, Peter Groitl, Alexander Herrmann, Thomas Sternsdorf, Ruth Brack-Werner, and Sabrina Schreiner: ATO (Arsenic Trioxide) Effects on Promyelocytic Leukemia Nuclear Bodies Reveals Antiviral Intervention Capacity, Advanced Science, February 2020. DOI: 10.1002 / advs.201902130.

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Air Filter That Can Kill Coronavirus on Contact: Perfect Solution for Airborne Transmission? – Science Times

Researchers from the University of Houston have recently made a filtration system capable of instantly neutralizing and killing 99.8 per cent of the coronavirus after a single passage.

The new filtration system exposes the virus to levels of heat that can deactivate the virus. This comes especially handy now that the World Health Organization recognizes that the coronavirus can be transmitted through floating particles in the air.

air filter for coronavirus

(Photo : Screenshot From YouTube: KHOU 11)
Researchers from Houston developed an air filter they claim could kill the coronavirus upon contact.

The team is optimistic that their filtration system could be of use in many places such as hospitals, schools, airports, and businesses.

According to Zhifeng Ren, a co-author of the paper, the filter could be used in airplanes, cruise ships, office buildings, and other establishments to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Just as local businesses like bars and restaurants are starting to open their doors for business again, the filter could particularly be useful in getting rid of viruses possibly lingering in the air. The full findings of the study were published in the journal Materials Today Physics.

Read Also: Important Information to Know When Choosing Filtration Devices

What Temperature Kills Coronavirus?

According to the WHO, heat at 56 degrees Celcius kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10000 units per 15 minutes.

Heat is thought to affect the coronavirus to some extent because it is an enveloped virus with a lipid bilayer. BBC says that research on other enveloped viruses suggests that its oily coat makes the viruses more susceptible to heat compared to those that do not have one.

Because outdoor temperatures rarely reach anywhere near 56 degrees Celcius, experts do not necessarily believe warmer weather will have any compelling impact on the novel coronavirus.

According to Marc Lipsitch, the director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, although there could be minimal declines in the contagiousness of the coronavirus in warmer and wetter weather, it would not be enough to stop transmission alone.

Nickel Foam and Heat to Zap the Virus

The developed air filtration system runs extremely hot, about 392 degrees, and is, therefore, able to effectively kill the coronavirus upon contact. The structure itself is chiefly made up of nickel foam.

Ren explains that the use of the material immensely helped the team meet a number of elemental design requirements. He describes it as porous, which allows the continuous flow of air.

Furthermore, the material is also flexible and electrically conductive, allowing it to be heated. However, nickel foam has low resistivity, which made it hard to raise the temperature high enough to kill the virus quickly.

The team resolves the problem by folding the foam and connecting multiple compartments with electrical wires to increase its resistance to temperatures as high as 250 degrees Celcius.

Although the system isn’t as good as a coronavirus vaccine, the researchers believe that it could be of use to many establishments as storefronts continue to open. Additionally, they also claim that the system would improve safety at workplaces, schools, hospitals, and many other businesses.

Especially with the coronavirus now being recognized as airborne, cramped up public spaces such as small pubs and bars could reduce transmission using the air filters.

Also Read: Anti-Coronavirus? China’s “Healthy Car Project” Offers New Filtration System to Screen out Viruses and Bacteria

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