Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Nasal spray developed by Australian scientists STOPS cancer patients catching Covid with a bigger trial to find if it can be the next weapon to fight the pandemic

Another one of those evil nasal sprays. But this one uses a well recognized therapeutic ingredient so will be harder to dismiss

A trial for a nasal spray that has prevented cancer patients getting Covid-19 could be a new weapon to fight the pandemic.

Some 175 patients have tested the drug by taking daily doses of a nasal spray containing cancer drug interferon developed by scientists at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

None of the participants in the C-SMART trial have contracted Covid so far, despite several waves of the virus plunging Melbourne into six lockdowns.

Scientists are seeking more volunteers to take part in the free trial, which will be expanded to Austin and St Vincent's hospitals in Melbourne, along with Westmead Hospital in western Sydney.

Anyone with a past or current cancer diagnosis is eligible to take part in the four month trial.

Scientists hope the nasal spray will be an extra protection for vulnerable patients until better preventions are developed.

'We have not had any patient on the trial actually report back to us that they have developed Covid infection,' National Centre for Infections in Cancer director Professor Monica Slavin told the Herald Sun.

'But we have had about 10 per cent of people on the trial sending in a swab due to some sort of viral illness.

'We know that there are groups of patients, because of the immune system being suppressed, that don't make a good response to the vaccination.'

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for the trial, which began a year ago.

Scientists were forced to press pause on the trial for five months earlier this year when access to chemicals and sending samples of the drug for testing were hampered by international border closures.

The expanded trial will determine whether the drug can also prevent other respiratory viral illnesses.

Studies have shown cancer patients make up 10 per cent of severe Covid-19 cases, and about 20 per cent of those who die from it, according to the trial's website.

They are also more likely to rapidly develop severe infections and be admitted to ICU compared to cases without cancer.


Moderna says booster significantly increases antibodies against Omicron

Moderna announced Monday that a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine significantly increases antibody levels against the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

A 50 microgram jab — the authorized dose for a third shot — saw a 37-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies, the vaccine maker said.

Moderna also tested a 100 microgram booster dose, which increased antibody levels 83-fold. The first two shots of Moderna’s vaccine are both 100 micrograms.

The company said the higher booster dose was generally safe and well-tolerated, although there was a trend toward slightly more frequent adverse reactions.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel called the data “reassuring” but said it will continue to “rapidly advance an omicron-specific booster candidate into clinical testing in case it becomes necessary in the future.”

However, for now, the drugmaker said the current version of its vaccine – mRNA-1273 — will continue to be its “first line of defense against Omicron.”

“What we have available right now is 1273,” Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, told Reuters.

“It’s highly effective, and it’s extremely safe. I think it will protect people through the coming holiday period and through these winter months, when we’re going to see the most severe pressure of Omicron,” he added.

The data, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, tested blood from 20 booster recipients with each dose against a pseudovirus engineered to resemble the Omicron variant, the company said.

Antibody levels were measured on day 29 post-boost.

Burton said it would be up to governments and regulators to assess whether they want the enhanced level of protection that a 100 microgram dose might provide.

US regulators authorized Moderna’s 50 microgram booster in October.


Ancient Greek drug used to treat gout could reduce the risk of death from Covid-19 by as much as 50 per cent, study claims

A drug used to treat gout could hold the potential to cut the risk of death from Covid-19 by as much as 50 per cent, a new study claims.

Colchicine is an ancient drug derived from the Colchicum family of plants, which was first used for its special healing properties by the ancient Greeks.

It began to be widely used from about the first century AD as a treatment for gout and other inflammatory conditions, and is one of a few medicines that have survived into modern times, according to experts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Four controlled studies, involving 6,000 coronavirus patients, have been published into the effects of the drug, with each showing a 'clear benefit' from its use.

The Israeli researchers analysed the studies, finding 'significant improvement in severe coronavirus indices and, most importantly, there was a decrease in mortality by about 50 per cent compared to those who were not treated with colchicine.'

This is an important discovery, as the drug is cheap and requires just half a milligram dose per day, according to the researchers.

However, previous studies have found mixed results on the use of the drug, with some finding a significant benefit, as was the case here, and others finding none.

An Indian study from November found no benefit to using the drug to treat Covid-19.

What is colchicine? The 30p drug used to tackle gout

Colchicine is used to treat and prevent systemic inflammation, a feature of gout and the worst cases of coronavirus

Colchicine is a medicine for treating inflammation and pain. The pills are typically prescribed to treat flare-ups or attacks of gout

It is also used to prevent increased flare-ups of gout when a patient first starts on a medicine like allopurinol – taken to manage the condition in the long term.

Colchicine is also prescribed to prevent flare-ups of symptoms of familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) – an inherited inflammatory condition.

The usual dose for gout is one 0.5mg tablet, taken two to four times a day. Patients are advised to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while taking colchicine.

Some patients find it is gentler on their stomach if they take the tablets with or after food.

It is not usually recommended in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

For this new research, Prof Ami Schattner came at it from a different perspective, focusing on all patients treated in controlled trials with the ancient drug for any purpose over the past 20 years, rather than just treated for Covid-19.

Of the studies he reviewed, four focused on coronavirus and involved 6,000 patients, finding each saw a 'significant improvement' when using the drug.

Schattner says colchicine working to improve the outcome of Covid-19 patients is 'an important discovery that could significantly contribute to improving the morbidity and mortality of many patients, if confirmed in further studies.'

This is because, as well as being cheap, it is well-tolerated by patients with minimal side effects such as bouts of diarrhoea in 10 per cent of patients.

The studies used by the Israeli team were conducted around the world, including in Canada, Greece, Spain and Brazil.

They were all double-blind placebo studies, which make them more accurate, according to Schattner.

Further randomised trials are needed, involving the drug and Covid-19 patients, to confirm the results of this 'preliminary study', said Schattner.

He said that it is likely going to lead to an expansion of the use of low-dose colchicine in the treatment of coronavirus patients, and says there is 'no reason' that couldn't start now.

In November, an Indian research team from GMERS Medical College Gotri in Gujarat performed a meta-analysis of six studies that tested colchicine's ability to prevent severe cases of the virus.

'Colchicine does not reduce the risk of mortality, need for ventilatory support, intensive care unit admission or length of hospital stay among patients with Covid-19,' researchers wrote.

'There is no additional benefit of adding colchicine to supportive care in the management of patients with Covid-19.'

Four of the studies also researched whether the drug could reduce Covid-19 related hospital stays.

The combined results found no difference in mortality rates among people who used colchicine and those that did not.

In March a large British trial halted enrolments to test colchicine as a potential treatment for patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

This was after a sub-study of the trial found that the medication did not have any effect on the patients.

However, Schattner says his results are 'very promising' and worth exploring further.

'Even though initial data on the effect of colchicine on coronavirus patients is very promising, more patients need to be in randomised controlled trials,' Schattner told the Jerusalem Post.

'But that would not prevent me from using the drug already in patients with high risk, to hopefully lower their chances of developing severe disease.

'The drug is low-cost for the patients and the community,' he said. 'By using it in corona patients, we have nothing to lose and much to gain.'

A few gout drugs have been pointed to as potential Covid-19 treatments since the pandemic began.

Drugs used to treat gout often have anti-inflammatory properties, which can also reduce some of the side-effects of Covid-19.

Previous studies identified colchicine as a drug that could reduce inflammation related to Covid-19 and help patients.

Another anti-inflammatory drug used to treat gout, probenecid, has also showed a promising ability to combat Covid-19, though further research is needed.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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