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© M.S. Views & News
© M.S. Views & News
“Are you sure you want to die?”
Ángel Hernández stared at his wife through clear glasses. His face was pallid, haggard, his lip quivering.
María José Carrasco, 61, and eight years his junior, drooped in a squeaky red armchair. Her body was limp, her face sunken, and her mouth sagged into a scowl. But Carrasco wasn’t angry; she was nervous, uneasy even. Uneasy and in pain. She had endured Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years, and it was ravaging her body.
“Would you like it if we do it tomorrow?” Hernández said, glancing into the camera recording it all.
Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.May 19 2020
Researchers from Prokhorov General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have developed a novel method for diagnosing and monitoring autoimmune disorders. Within a mere 25 minutes, their new biosensor not only measures the concentration of autoantibodies in human blood serum with extremely high sensitivity, but also -- for the first time -- quantifies their activity. The combination of these parameters permits the elaboration of new diagnostic criteria for autoimmune diseases, as well as new approaches to their treatment. The paper was published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the highest-ranking scientific journal in the field of biosensing technology and analytical chemistry.
Autoantibodies produced by the immune system misinterpret the organism's cells and organs as targets, causing autoimmune disorders. The autoantibodies are associated with more than 80 serious autoimmune diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus to Multiple Sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes. Many of them require lifelong care and treatment to alleviate suffering. Autoantibodies are present in the blood of about 10% of the population. Due to a high prevalence of autoimmune disorders, the economic impact is enormous and is estimated for some countries as twice that of cancer. Autoantibodies appear in blood long before clinical onset, and their characteristics can be used to foresee disease activity and severity.
Currently, the treatment of autoimmune diseases is substantially complicated due to dramatic variations in the results of commercial tests by different manufacturers.
"Depending on the laboratory running the test, and the method used, the autoantibody concentration measured in the same sample at the same time may vary by a factor of 10," says one of the paper's authors Alexey Orlov, a senior scientist of the Biophotonics Lab at GPI RAS and Nanobiotechnology Lab at MIPT, a 2010 graduate of MIPT. "In fact, no one could rely on autoantibody concentration as a quantitative parameter to evaluate therapy efficiency."
By Dr. Liji Thomas, MDMay 19 2020
The world has rarely seen such a readily transmissible infection as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) over the last century. Within five months, the virus has created a Tsunami of COVID-19 positive cases, comprising almost 4.88 million people and causing 322,000 deaths.
However, the spread of the virus is slower than expected in Africa. A new study by researchers at Makerere University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and published on the preprint server medRxiv* in May 2020 is focused on finding any possible link between the low risk of infection and parasitic infections.
The disease manifestations in COVID-19 range from asymptomatic to critically ill requiring mechanical ventilatory support. Severe COVID-19 manifests with a hyperimmune response that is marked by high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL-6, IL-2, and TNF-α often termed the cytokine storm or cytokine release syndrome. High levels of IL-6 are associated with increased severity of disease in COVID-19. Some studies show that when patients with severe disease are treated with monoclonal antibodies that block the IL-6 signaling pathway, the duration of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) is shortened, and there is an earlier resolution of disease.
Parasitic infestations are widespread in Africa. Many parasites live for years in their hosts, without producing significant symptoms. This is due to the interplay of immunity vs. tolerance. In other words, sterilizing immunity, or the development of an immune response strong enough to eliminate the pathogen, is rarely achieved. Still, the parasite count and distribution are kept in check, allowing the host to live a mostly healthy life.
An antibody appears to make a big difference between Multiple Sclerosis and other disorders affecting the protective myelin sheath around nerve fibres, report Tohoku University scientists and colleagues in the journal Brain. The finding suggests that some of these 'inflammatory demyelinating diseases' belong to a different category than Multiple Sclerosis, and should be treated according to their disease mechanism.
Multiple Sclerosis is a well-known demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, but is not the only one by far. In inflammatory demyelinating diseases,?targeted myelin sheaths -- the protective layers surrounding nerve fibres in the central nervous system -- becoming damaged, slowing or even stopping the transmission of nerve impulses. This leads to various neurological problems.
Scientists have found that some, but not all, patients with inflammatory demyelinating diseases have auto-immune antibodies against myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), which is thought to be important in maintaining the myelin sheath's structural integrity. This antibody is rarely detected in patients with typical Multiple Sclerosis, but is found in patients diagnosed with optic neuritis, myelitis, and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), for example. Scientists had not yet been able to show that high levels of this antibody mean it is specifically targeting and damaging MOG.
Tohoku University neurologist Tatsuro Misu and colleagues in Japan analysed the brain lesions of inflammatory demyelinating disease patients with and without detectable MOG antibodies, and found the two groups were quite different.
Autopsies were taken from brain lesions of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), which predominantly targets the optic nerve and spinal cord. These patients did not have detectable MOG antibodies. Typical Multiple Sclerosis lesions showed solitary, slowly expanding demyelination with a profound loss of myelin sheath proteins, and the presence of activated debris-clearing macrophages at their periphery. NMOSD lesions showed reductions in nerve cells called astrocytes and in myelin-producing cells called oligodendrocytes, and loss in the innermost layers of myelin sheath proteins.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 19 2020
An antibody appears to make a big difference between Multiple Sclerosis and other disorders affecting the protective myelin sheath around nerve fibers, report Tohoku University scientists and colleagues in the journal Brain.
Multiple Sclerosis is a well-known demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, but is not the only one by far. In inflammatory demyelinating diseases, targeted myelin sheaths - the protective layers surrounding nerve fibres in the central nervous system - become damaged, slowing or even stopping the transmission of nerve impulses. This leads to various neurological problems.
Scientists have found that some, but not all, patients with inflammatory demyelinating diseases have auto-immune antibodies against myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), which is thought to be important in maintaining the myelin sheath's structural integrity.
Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.May 18 2020
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine have identified a new way that cells in the central nervous system regenerate and repair following damage.
In an article published in the current issue of Nature Neuroscience, scientists from CU found that precisely-timed motor learning stimulates cellular processes to improve recovery after damage to oligodendrocytes, cells that are critical for healthy neurologic function throughout life.
The study uses advanced microscopy and mouse models of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) to evaluate oligodendrocytes and their precursor cells to better understand how they can be harnessed to restore neuronal function following injury.
Tissue regeneration following injury or disease is a long sought-after goal, particularly in the adult nervous system."
Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.May 18 2020
New research suggests mindfulness training may help Multiple Sclerosis patients in two very different ways: regulating negative emotions and improving processing speed.
People with MS who underwent the four-week mindfulness training not only improved more compared to those who did nothing - they also improved compared to those who tried another treatment, called adaptive cognitive training.
This was a small pilot study, so we need to replicate the results, but these findings were very encouraging. It is exciting to find a treatment that may be helpful in more than one way for people with Multiple Sclerosis."
Ruchika Prakash, corresponding author of the research and associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University
A new Los Angeles County ordinance that prevents the sale of flavored tobacco products is being challenged in court by vape shop owners.
On May 4, CA Smoke & Vape Association and Ace Smoke Shop filed a federal lawsuit against the rule that also requires businesses to obtain two additional licenses and imposes new tobacco product standards according to legalnewsline.com, the “great majority” of vapor products and devices will be prohibited, the lawsuit says. It complains that products containing THC are exempted, even though it is “the primary source linked to the outbreak” of recent illnesses, the lawsuit states.
“Similarly, the ordinance makes no distinction between the black-market vaping products at the center of that outbreak and the FDA-regulated products produced by legitimate manufacturers,” the lawsuit states. “Instead, the ordinance implements a blanket prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products to all persons, threatening to destroy an entire industry and the livelihoods of Los Angeles County residents.”
The plaintiffs in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California case number 2:20-cv-04065 are represented by Jawlakian Law Group.
British American Tobacco (BAT) said on Friday is ready to test its potential Covid-19 vaccine using proteins from tobacco leaves on humans, after it generated a positive immune response in pre-clinical trials, reports Reuters.
Once it gets approval from the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) for the vaccine, the company plans to start testing on humans.
In April BAT announced it was developing a Covid-19 vaccine from tobacco leaves and could produce 1 million to 3 million doses per week if it got the support of government agencies and the right manufacturers.
Multiple companies from a variety of sectors have been racing to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, with some of the vaccines already in human trials. Experts have suggested that a Covid-19 vaccine could take 12-18 months to develop.
On Friday, BAT said it had submitted a pre-investigative new drug application to the FDA and that the agency had acknowledged the submission. BAT said it was also talking with other government agencies around the world about the vaccine.
"We still predominately test if you are being admitted or, now, if you need an elective surgery or admission to a skilled nursing facility. Outpatient is still chaos." -- An anonymous infectious diseases specialist, responding to a MedPage Today benchmark survey about challenges healthcare workers face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They are a harbinger of what is to come. In several decades, these conditions will start affecting large regions and for longer periods of time." -- Matthew Huber, PhD, of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, about potentially fatal heat and humidity mixtures recorded at weather stations throughout the world.
"Don't buy any fancy cars." -- Andrew Freedman, MD, program director of the urology residency program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, on his advice to medical trainees in the current uncertain economic climate.
"It's actually incredibly complicated." -- Alysse Wurcel, MD, of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, on the logistics of testing prison and jail inmates for coronavirus infection.
"It is an important milestone in the field as it reports on survival of stem cell-derived dopamine neurons in a human brain." -- Malin Parmar, PhD, of Lund University in Sweden, discussing a novel brain cell transplant performed in a Parkinson's disease patient.
Sales of flavored vapor products come to close in the U.S. state of New York at retail stores beginning Monday May 18. Monday also brings a close to the sale of all tobacco products at pharmacies.
“Healthcare-related entities should not be in the business of selling tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death in New York State,” wrote Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press release. “Ending the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products in pharmacies will help reduce the availability, visibility and social acceptability of tobacco use, especially to youth.”
The measure also makes it illegal to sell electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) online, by phone and by mail order.
New York became the first state in the country to ban flavored electronic cigarettes in September of last year. Cuomo announced the decision as part of a series of efforts to combat the increase in young people using vape products. Cuomo said in a statement that it was “undeniable” that flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy are deliberately designed to target youths.
Widespread connectivity loss was seen in early Alzheimer's brains, researchers reported.
Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with [11C]UCB‐J showed a broad pattern of synaptic density reductions in all medial temporal and neocortical brain regions analyzed, wrote Adam Mecca, MD, PhD, of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and co-authors in Alzheimer's & Dementia.
These reductions largely were maintained after correcting for volume loss and were more extensive than decreases in gray matter volume, Mecca and colleagues noted. Lower tracer uptake also correlated with lower cognitive performance.
The researchers used [11C]UCB‐J, a relatively new in vivo PET tracer, to visualize synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A) binding in 34 people with early Alzheimer's disease and 19 cognitively normal older adults. SV2A is expressed in virtually all synapses and is located in synaptic vesicles in the presynaptic terminal.
The group's earlier work with the tracer looked at synaptic alterations in early Alzheimer's disease, but didn't identify their extent or determine an optimal reference region for SV2A Alzheimer's studies.
Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.May 14 2020
In the brains of people that suffer from long-term Multiple Sclerosis (MS), inflammatory cells are not entering the brain via the bloodstream anymore. Instead, the cells arise from local memory cells in the brain. Nina Fransen and her colleagues of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience show this in a recently published article in the scientific journal Brain.
At its onset, MS is characterized by a relatively high frequency of attacks of neurological symptoms that recover relatively well. During attacks early in the disease, white blood cells migrate from the bloodstream into the brain, where they contribute to the inflammation. In patients with advanced MS, the number of attacks with neurological symptoms is reduced, but disability does progress.
Our previous studies indicated that there is still a significant amount of inflammatory activity in the brain also at later stages of MS, which is remarkable."
Nina Fransen, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
Dopaminergic progenitor cells derived from a Parkinson's disease patient's own skin cells and injected into his putamen showed evidence of survival and were associated with improved motor scores and quality of life measures.
The cells were implanted into the 69-year-old Parkinson's patient's putamen in two procedures, left hemisphere followed by right hemisphere, 6 months apart. PET imaging with a dopaminergic activity tracer up to 24 months suggested graft survival, reported Jeffrey Schweitzer, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues, in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Over 24 months, the patient's MDS-UPDRS, part III (evaluating parkinsonian motor signs) and PDQ-39 (assessing Parkinson's disease-related quality of life) scores also improved. His Parkinson's drug regimen at 24 months was similar to his pre-procedure treatment, but his levodopa equivalents were reduced from 904 mg to 847 mg.
The patient required no immunosuppression. "We have shown for the first time in this study that these reprogrammed cells are still recognized as self by the patient's immune system and won't be rejected," senior author Kwang-Soo Kim, PhD, of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, said in a statement.
"The study is interesting and promising, but should be interpreted with caution given that it reports on only one patient with limited and incomplete clinical data," noted Malin Parmar, PhD, of Lund University's Developmental and Regenerative Neurobiology department in Sweden, who wasn't involved with the research.
Even psychiatry residents are being recruited to care for COVID-19 patients in the hospitals. (STAT)
According to geotagged Twitter data, Michigan was the top state for COVID-19-related depression and anxiety tweets, followed by Missouri and Louisiana. (MLive)
The European ADHD Guidelines Group released additional guidance on initiating ADHD treatment in patients during the pandemic who haven't had an in-person baseline cardiovascular assessment. (The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health)
Mind Medicine announced it's entering into a phase IIa clinical trial testing LSD micro-dosing in adults with ADHD.
People with schizophrenia who switched to lurasidone (Latuda) after 12 months of treatment on risperidone (Risperdal) saw an improvement in symptoms along with reductions in weight, metabolic parameters, and prolactin levels. (BMC Psychiatry)
A 3D bioengineered human brain tissue model developed features of Alzheimer's disease -- including amyloid-beta plaque formation, neuronal loss, neuroinflammation, and reduced neural network functionality -- when infected with herpes simplex virus-1. (Science Advances)
An artificial intelligence model accurately predicted Alzheimer's risk by assessing MRIs, cognitive scores, age, and sex, besting 11 practicing neurologists. (Brain)