Thursday, May 25, 2023

Breakthrough: Hong Kong Study Demonstrates SIM01 Treats Long COVID Symptoms

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) reports that 70% of patients in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China who have recovered from COVID-19 continue to suffer from at least one long COVID symptom by month six after onset of SARS-CoV-2 infection. With no proven therapeutic regimen to address long COVID, CUHK is quickly becoming a microbiome (gut health) research hub. They conducted a triple-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial revealing that modulation of the gut microbiome using oral microencapsulated live bacteria (SIM01) developed at CUHK led to marked improvement in long COVID symptoms.

Notable news, this was not broadcast widely in the West. The findings were presented recently at the late breaking abstract plenary session at Digestive Disease Week 2023 in Chicago. Once these results are scrutinized by the broader scientific community along with advancement of human research could lead to a compelling therapeutic answer to long COVID.

Gut microbiome research watchers: CUHK increasingly becomes a leading hub for this pioneering research, discovering an intricate, intertwined connection between internal bacteria and the condition afflicting possibly hundreds of millions of people worldwide. With an urgent need to identify effective therapeutic interventions for long COVID symptoms, particularly when debilitating, breakthroughs in Hong Kong may point to therapeutic pathways. Biotech’s in the USA, Europe and elsewhere should look into SIM01.

Who is behind this latest CUHK research?

Professor Martin Wong, Professor from the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care as well as Francis KL Chan, Dean and Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research, CU Medicine and Professor Siew Ng, CU Medicine’s Croucher Professor in Medical Sciences and Director of Microbiota I-Center (MagIC).

What does the research show so far?

In the CUHK announcement, the Hong Kong-based academic research center’s Professor Martin Wong Chi-sang first defined long COVID and explained that the contagion affects various organs in the body, with potentially debilitating impacts.

Previous studies by CU Medicine, again, arguably the leading academic research center in the world when it comes to the intersection of the gut microbiome and long COVID, demonstrate that patients with long COVID symptoms were linked to altered gut microbial signatures.

Last year, the Hong Kong team reported results from an open?label, proof?of?concept study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology showing that the use of SIM01 hastened antibody formation against SARS?CoV?2, reduced nasopharyngeal viral load, reduced pro?inflammatory immune markers and restored gut dysbiosis in hospitalized COVID?19 patients. TrialSite has actively chronicled the CHUK team. This finding suggests that modulation of the gut microbiota represents a potentially useful intervention.

Now, with a bigger triple-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (the RECOVERY study) points to the efficacy of SIM01--improving long COVID symptoms across multiple systems and organs.

What is SIM01?

CU Medicine researchers invented SIM01using big data and machine-learning technologies as part of the discovery process. Developed based on a microbiome formula, the team developed the experimental regimen containing Bifidobacteria strains, galactooligosaccharides, xylooligosaccharide and resistant dextrin into an oral formula using microencapsulation, an advanced food processing technology using which any compound can be encapsulated into a specified material, making a tiny sphere of diameter ranging from 1 μm to several μm.

The study results

From 2021 to 2022, a total of 463 recovered patients with at least one long COVID symptom joined the RECOVERY study. Their mean age was 49 years old, and 65.4% were female. Nearly 70% of participants were suspected to have been infected with the Omicron variant. All subjects were randomly assigned to receive SIM01 or a placebo containing low dose Vitamin C for six months.

CUHK investigators report on compelling results, finding that significantly more patients who received SIM01 than those who had placebo evidenced improvement in digestive problems, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, memory loss and general unwellness at six months follow-up.

Additional metagenomic analysis of study participant stool samples revealed that SIM01 resulted in increased bacteria diversity, increased abundance of “favorable” bacteria and reduced abundance of “unfavorable” bacteria in the gut, highlighting the effectiveness of SIM01 in restoring gut dysbiosis.

Professor Siew Ng, CU Medicine’s Croucher Professor of Medical Sciences and Director of Microbiota I-Center (MagIC), commented, “To our knowledge, this is the first clinical trial to show that modulation of the gut microbiome can improve long COVID symptoms including memory and concentration problems. These data support the importance of the gut-brain axis. Restoring a healthy gut microbiota is a novel approach to improve neurological symptoms via the production of beneficial metabolites from gut bacteria that circulate to the brain to improve brain function.


Cardiovascular Disease Death Soars Worldwide-- particularly in poor countries

A new study released by the World Heart Federation reveals a truly global cardiovascular disease crisis unfolding over the last few decades, particularly intensifying in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). The World Heart Report launched at the 2023 World Heart Summit, offers a detailed breakdown of cardiovascular disease risk and mortality data across the globe, combined with the group’s reviews of country-to-country health policy initiatives to mitigate this scourge. Deaths linked to cardiovascular disease increased from 12.1 million in 1990, to 20.5 million in 2021, making this therapeutic contagion the biggest killer worldwide. While it’s assumed by many that the rich, developed world represents the highest burden of cardiovascular deaths, the opposite is true: four in five cardiovascular disease death occur in LMICs.

The report was made possible by the Novartis Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the multinational Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Novartis.

A non-governmental organization (NGO), the World Heart Federation sponsored the report. The World Heart Federation was formed in 1978 by the coming together of the International Society of Cardiology and the International Cardiology Federation first under the name “the International Society and Federation of Cardiology.” By 1998, they changed their name to the current one. Representing over 200 organizations across 100 countries, the World Heart Federation champions global cardiovascular health pursuing the organization's mission to provide information about heart-related research, care and treatments. The organization declares on its website that it’s the only cardiovascular-focused organization “in official relations with the World Health Organization.”

The study authors report the highest concentration of cardiovascular disease deaths occurred in the Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. Importantly, over the past three decades, total cardiovascular disease deaths increased mostly due to ageing and a growing population. But actual cardiovascular disease death rates declined from 345.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 1990 to 239.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019. The declining rates are enjoyed more by rich developed countries than LMICs.

The study’s authors are listed below. One co-author, Professor Fausto Pinto, a former World Heart Federation President went on the record:

“The data doesn’t lie. This report confirms the serious threat that cardiovascular disease poses all over the world, particularly in low-and middle-income countries. Up to 80 percent of premature heart attacks and strokes can be prevented. It’s vital that countries prioritize rolling out tools and policies to protect people from CVD.”

A confluence of factors contributes to the growing deaths including high blood pressure, air pollution, tobacco use and elevated LDL cholesterol. Overall, a key finding is that risk factors vary across regions, making it vital that countries be aware of their risk profile. It also found that countries that invest more in healthcare as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) have lower CVD death rates, while CVD death rates are higher in countries where people pay more out-of-pocket for healthcare.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's far more likely that the Data about cardio vascular deaths increasing indicates that the health care system is now paying MORE attention to the causes of death in the areas where they noted the sharp increases than a change in the actual numbers.

There's too much desire in articles to make mountains out of molehills for the sake of sensation for me to believe that something changed to cause a huge increase in cardio vascular deaths.