Human Trials for Pill to Cure COVID

Dozens of volunteers have begun participation in initial trials for a pill that pharmaceutical company Pfizer hopes will be a cure for COVID-19 available later this year, the Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

The trial is being held at two Pfizer locations, one in the US and the other in Belgium, and will involve up to 60 volunteers age 18-60. The trial will be split into three phases spread over 145 days, with an extra 28 days tacked on the end for “screening and dosing,” according to the report, and will include several overnight stays for the participants.

If they have moved to this stage, they will be quietly optimistic,” Prof. Penny Ward, a visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, told the Telegraph.

The question will be about how the drug is tolerated,” said Ward, who helped develop Tamil, an antiviral treatment against flu.

The first phase will look at how well the new drug is tolerated and if there are “significant side effects, and how people feel after taking it,” according to Pfizer documents cited by the British news outlet. The next phase will include multiple doses while the third will look into the influence of eating food at the same time.

For that part, participants could receive instructions such as to consume a high-fat breakfast of “two eggs fried in butter, two strips of pork bacon, two slices of toast with butter, 4 oz. of hash brown potatoes, and 8 oz. of whole milk,” all of which must be consumed in 20 minutes.

Volunteers have been warned that the drug has so far only been tested on animals, according to the Pfizer documents.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/ 
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  https://www.timesofisrael.com/

Air Pollution Triggers 500,000 Premature Deaths In Europe Every Year

A team at King’s College London looked at data from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. They calculated days with above average pollution levels would see an extra 124 cardiac arrests over the yearNHS England boss Simon Stevens said it was evidence of “a health emergency“. The figure is based on ambulance call data and does not count heart attacks suffered by patients already in hospital. It points to significant short-term health risks caused by air pollution, on top of contributing to almost 500,000 premature deaths in Europe every year.

On days with high pollution levels, across the nine cities in total, they calculated that there would be a total of 231 additional hospital admissions for stroke, with an extra 193 children and adults taken to hospital for asthma treatment. Dr Heather Walton, of King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group, said air pollution reduction policies concentrated in the main on effects connected to life expectancy. “However, health studies show clear links with a much wider range of health effects,” she added.

In London, high-pollution days would see an extra 87 cardiac arrests per year, an extra 144 strokes, and 74 children and 33 adults ending up in hospital with asthma-related issues. In Birmingham the figure would be 12 more out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 27 additional admissions for stroke and 26 more for asthma. Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton would see between two and six more out-of-hospital heart attacks and up to 14 extra hospital admissions for both stroke and asthma. Only in Derby would there be no apparent increase.

Among the long-term risks associated with high pollution levels are stunted lung growth and low birth weight. The King’s College research also suggests cutting air pollution by a fifth would decrease incidents of lung cancer by between 5% and 7% across the nine cities surveyed. Mr Stevens said: “It’s clear that the climate emergency is in fact also a health emergency. “Since these avoidable deaths are happening now – not in 2025 or 2050 – together we need to act now.”

The figures were published ahead of Wednesday’s International Clean Air Summit hosted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the UK100 network of local government leaders.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/

The Roots Of Parkinson’s In The Brain Discovered

Researchers from King’s College London have uncovered the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease in the brain, many years before patients show any symptomsParkinson’s disease could be spotted in the brain more than a decade before symptoms emerge, scientists have discovered, raising hopes that early treatment could prevent the condition ever taking hold.

Researchers from King’s College London studied the brains of people living in the northern Peloponnese of Greece who suffer from a rare genetic mutation that makes Parkinson’s almost inevitable. Most will develop the disease in their 40s but scientists found that by their 20s and 30s they had already lost of up to 34 per cent of the brain cells that process the hormone serotonin. The damage had occurred even before symptoms developed, offering an early warning sign of the approaching disease. The results, published in The Lancet Neurology, challenge the traditional view of the disease and could potentially lead to screening tools for identifying people at greatest risk.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, after Alzheimer’s disease. The disease is characterised by movement and cognitive problems but is known to become established in the brain a long time before patients are diagnosed. Studying the crucial early stages of the disease, when treatment could potentially slow its progress, is a huge challenge.

The new study, funded by the Lily Safra Foundation, provides the first evidence of a central role for the brain chemical serotonin in the very earliest stages of Parkinson’s. The results suggest changes to the serotonin system could act as a key early warning signal for the disease. Chief investigator Professor Marios Politis, Lily Safra Professor of Neurology & Neuroimaging at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), says: ‘Parkinson’s disease has traditionally been thought of as occurring due to damage in the dopamine system, but we show that changes to the serotonin system come first, occurring many years before patients begin to show symptoms. Our results suggest that early detection of changes in the serotonin system could open doors to the development of new therapies to slow, and ultimately prevent, progression of Parkinson’s disease.’

Source: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/

How Cannabis Component Fights Psychosis

British scientists have unraveled how a non-intoxicating component of cannabis acts in key brain areas to reduce abnormal activity in patients at risk of psychosis, suggesting the ingredient could become a novel anti-psychotic medicine. While regular use of potent forms CBD is the same cannabis compound that has also shown benefits in epilepsy, leading in June to the first U.S. approval of a cannabis-based drug, a purified form of CBD from GW Pharmaceuticals.

Previous research at King’s College London had shown that CBD seemed to counter the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the substance in cannabis that makes people high. But how this happened was a mystery.

Now, by scanning the brains of 33 young people who were experiencing distressing psychotic symptoms but had not been diagnosed with full-blown psychosis, Sagnik Bhattacharyya and colleagues showed that giving CBD capsules reduced abnormal activity in the striatum, medial temporal cortex and midbrain.

Abnormalities in all three of these brain regions have been linked to the onset of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Most current anti-psychotic drugs target the dopamine chemical signaling system in the brain, while CBD works in a different way. Significantly, the compound is very well tolerated, avoiding the adverse side effects such as weight gain and other metabolic problems associated with existing medicines.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/