Monthly Archives: March 2020
Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a nanodevice that operates more than 10 times faster than today’s fastest transistors, and about 100 times faster than the transistors you have on your computers. This new device enables the generation of high-power terahertz waves. These waves, which are notoriously difficult to produce, are useful in a rich variety of applications ranging from imaging and sensing to high-speed wireless communications. The high-power picosecond operation of these device also hold immense promise to some advanced medical treatment techniques such as cancer therapy. The team’s pioneering compact source, described today in Nature, paves the way for untold new applications.
Terahertz (THz) waves fall between microwave and infrared radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum, oscillating at frequencies of between 100 billion and 30 trillion cycles per second. These waves are prized for their distinctive properties: they can penetrate paper, clothing, wood and walls, as well as detect air pollution. THz sources could revolutionize security and medical imaging systems.
What’s more, their ability to carry vast quantities of data could hold the key to faster wireless communications.
THz waves are a type of non-ionizing radiation, meaning they pose no risk to human health. The technology is already used in some airports to scan passengers and detect dangerous objects and substances.
Despite holding great promise, THz waves are not widely used because they are costly and cumbersome to generate. But new technology developed by researchers at EPFL could change all that. The team at the Power and Wide-band-gap Electronics Research Laboratory (POWERlab), led by Prof. Elison Matioli, built a nanodevice (1 nanometer = 1 millionth of a millimeter) that can generate extremely high-power signals in just a few picoseconds, or one trillionth of a second, – which produces high-power THz waves.
The technology, which can be mounted on a chip or a flexible medium, could one day be installed in smartphones and other hand-held devices. The work first-authored by Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo, a PhD student at the POWERlab, has been published in the journal Nature.
A French team in Marseille, led by the Professor Didier Raoult, has experimented a new method to save lives during the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone that presents himself at the hospital is tested to the COVID-19 and if positive, immediately get a cure during 5 days with a drug combo, hydroxychloriquine +/- azythromycine.
After a week, 1291 patients were cured and one died. The test is going on. A website is updating the counting every new day with fresh results.
Scientists are calling for urgent studies to determine the proportion of people with coronavirus who show no, or delayed, symptoms amid concern that the number of silent carriers may be greater than previously thought.
Iceland, which says it’s tested a higher proportion of inhabitants than any other country, found that about half those who tested positive have no symptoms of Covid-19, Thorolfur Gudnason, the nation’s chief epidemiologist, told BuzzFeed News. As many as a third of the people who test positive show delayed symptoms or none at all, the South China Morning Post reported Sunday, citing classified data from the Chinese government.
The high rate of asymptomatic cases can complicate efforts to stop the spread of the disease because many countries aren’t testing people unless they’re seriously ill. A report by a joint WHO-China mission last month described such infections as “relatively rare” and not appearing to be major drivers of transmission.
Millions of finger-prick coronavirus home-tests could be ready to order on Amazon or pick up in Boots in a matter of days, according to Public Health England (PHE). Sharon Peacock, of PHE‘s National Infection Service, said 3.5million antibody tests the Government has bought will be available in the ‘near future‘.
Asked whether these could be within several days, she told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee ‘absolutely’. However, Professor Peacock did not explain if the test would be free on the NHS or if suspected patients would have to pay. Health chiefs say the tests – which scour a sample of blood for antibodies made by the body to fight the virus – will initially be available for frontline healthcare staff.
The Government’s aim is to get thousands of doctors, nurses and paramedics who have had to self isolate at home as a precaution back to work. PHE has not revealed who is manufacturing the tests, which detect if someone has had the infection previously and is now immune.
Japanese biopharmaceutical firm Anges Inc said on Tuesday that it and Osaka University had completed development of a DNA vaccine against the new coronavirus and that it would begin testing it in animals soon. Shares of Anges surged as much as 17% in morning trade in Tokyo, compared with a 5.3% gain in the broader market.
Anges, a drug-discovery company launched out of Osaka University, announced its collaboration with the school on a coronavirus vaccine on March 5. DNA vaccines are produced using an inactivated virus and can manufactured faster than protein based vaccines, according to the company statement. Takara Bio Co is in charge of production of the vaccine and Daicel Corp’s gene-transfer technology is also being utilized, the statement said.
Global pharma companies are racing to develop vaccines and treatments for coronavirus, which has reached 350,000 cases globally and resulted in over 15,000 deaths. In Japan, market leader Takeda Pharmaceutical Co is working on a plasma-derived therapy, while the active ingredient in Fujifilm Holdings Corp’s Avigan anti-flu drug is being tested as a treatment in China. [nL4N2BG4MK]
Two newly published studies are presenting novel diagnostic techniques to help catch the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer at an early stage. A University of East Anglia study presents an innovative way to measure gene expression in tumor samples and predict disease severity, while an Australian study details a new kind of imaging technique promising to detect metastasized prostate cancer with greater accuracy than ever before.
Two new techniques are designed to detect aggressive forms of prostate cancer and catch it when it metastasizes
“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK,” explains Colin Cooper, lead researcher on a new study from the University of East Anglia. “It usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime. However, doctors struggle to predict which tumors will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men.”
In order to develop a way for doctors to better identify the most aggressive tumors the researchers examined different gene expression patterns in nearly 2,000 prostate tumor samples. Applying a mathematical model called Latent Process Decomposition, the study homed in on a particular pattern of gene expression associated with the most aggressive clinical cases.
The pattern relates to a subtype of cells the team has labeled DESNT, and suggest the more tumor cells in a sample that are of that DESNT subtype, the faster a patient will progress through the disease. The hope is that this can act as a biomarker to stratify prostate cancer patients, identifying those needing more urgent invasive treatments.
“If you have a tumor that is majority DESNT you are more likely to get metastatic disease, in other words it is more likely to spread to other parts of your body,” says Daniel Brewer, co-lead researcher on the project. “This is a much better indication of aggressive disease.”
Identifying when prostate cancer has metastasized is obviously of vital importance in guiding treatment. A team of Australian researchers just published the results of a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of a new imaging technique developed to provide detailed data on the spread of the disease.
“Around one in three prostate cancer patients will experience a disease relapse after surgery or radiotherapy,” says Declan Murphy, senior author on the new imaging study. “This is partly because current medical imaging techniques often fail to detect when the cancer has spread, which means some men are not given the additional treatments they need.”
A new study whose results were published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents has found early evidence that the combination of hydroxychloroquine, a popular anti-malaria drug known under the trade name Plaqenuil, and antibiotic azithromycin (aka Zithromax or Azithrocin) could be especially effective in treating the COVID-19 coronavirus and reducing the duration of the virus in patients.
The researchers performed a study on 30 confirmed COVID-19 patients, treating each with either hydroxychloroquine on its own, a combination of the medicine with the antibiotic, as well as a control group that received neither. The study was conducted after reports from treatment of Chinese patients indicated that this particular combo had efficacy in shortening the duration of infection in patients.
20 of the 30 participants in the study received treatment, and the results showed that while hydroxycholoroquine was effective on its own as a treatment, when combined with azithromycin it was even more effective, and by a significant margin.
Since yesterday, tests have been conducted on a large scale through Europe in the hope to validate the first results.
CureVac AG, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering mRNA-based drugs for vaccines and therapeutics, confirmed today that internal efforts are focused on the development of a coronavirus vaccine with the goal to reach, help and to protect people and patients worldwide. Based on its inherent mode of action, CureVac sees mRNA as one of the most potent molecules to provide fast and efficient solutions in outbreak scenarios, such like the Coronavirus. With inhouse expertise of over two decades and the company’s deep scientific understanding CureVac is leveraging its potent vaccine platform to focus on developing a potent, efficacious and safe and fast to produce vaccine against Covid-19.
CureVac recently announced successful vaccination results in its Rabies program fully protecting humans with two doses of only 1 microgram (1 millionth of a gram). These results are encouraging when thinking of supplying populations and people worldwide in a pandemic scenario. The company also has long and strong manufacturing expertise for mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics since 2006. At this time, CureVac is working on expanding its manufacturing capacities to be able to provide up to billions of doses for outbreak situations like Covid-19.
“Nature has invented mechanisms to activate our immune system against infectious diseases. With our unique messenger RNA technology we mimic nature and give our body the information how to fight against the virus. The combination of mRNA science, disease understanding, formulation and production expertise make CureVac a unique player to fight against any infectious disease, no matter whether they are seasonal or pandemic,” commented Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, Chief Technology Officer of CureVac.
Australian researchers said on Tuesday they have mapped the immune responses from one of country’s first coronavirus patients, findings the health minister said were an important step in developing a vaccine and treatment. The coronavirus has infected more than 168,000 people worldwide and killed at least 6,610, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While the bulk of those infected experience only mild symptoms, it is severe or critical in 20% of patients. The virus mortality rate is about 3.4%, the WHO has estimated.
As scientists scramble to develop a vaccine, researchers at Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said they had taken an important step in understanding the virus. By examining the blood results from an unidentified woman in her 40s, they discovered that people’s immune systems respond to coronavirus in the same way it typically fights flu.
The findings help scientists understand why some patients recover while others develop more serious respiratory problems, the researchers said.