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I don't think I have ever shared this uncropped original photograph before. Low resolution but still effective. I like how the tail curls around the girder.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Good news on the covid front

It is not all doom and gloom regarding the Covid - 19 virus. A lot of brainpower is going into beating this deadly microbe. And things actually look very promising.

Scripps Research may have found the virus's "Achilles heel."
...Wilson examined an antibody that had been taken from a SARS patient years ago and noticed that it latched onto a specific place in that virus.The team then discovered that the same SARS antibody latched onto virtually the same spot on the coronavirus. The antibody did not grip it quite as hard, but it helped identify the spot as a possible weak point in the makeup of the virus.“That high degree of similarity implies that the site has an important function that would be lost if it mutated significantly,” Scripps Research said in a statement Friday.
A common parasite drug called Ivermectin has been shown to kill the coronavirus in a laboratory setting in 48 hours. It also has potential as an anti malaria drug - Lancet. Here is the technical paper.
"Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out now whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective—that's the next step," said the study's leader Dr. Kylie Wagstaff in a statement."We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it," she added.The exact manner in which the drug is able to kill the virus is not yet known, although Wagstaff said it was likely done by "dampening down" the ability of host cells to clear the drug.
A potential corona vaccine candidate has been developed by a team of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh. I am not sure if this mirrors the Scripps work but the cellular geography sounds very similar.
“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-senior author of the study, in a statement.Researchers used mice in the study, delivering the vaccine to them through a “fingertip-sized patch” that they claim “produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus.” The mice began to develop antibodies against the novel virus two weeks after receiving the shot, according to the study.
An HIV drug named leronlimab is moving to phase II trials at the FDA and has been shown to improve the health of coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
CytoDyn, developer of leronlimab announced in a press release that after 3 days of treatment with leronlimab, 8 patients with COVID-19 who are seriously ill have shown an improvement in several important immunologic biomarkers, including cytokines, interleukin (IL)-6, and a trend toward the normalization of the CD4/CD8 ratio.5
There are actually at least 44 different Covid 19 clinical trials underway at this moment in the United States - Business Insider. Along with the BCG information I posted earlier, I think that there is good reason for hope.

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