Medicine-carriers made from human cells can cure lung infections

SPOKANE, Wash. – Scientists used human white blood cell membranes to carry two drugs, an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, directly to infected lungs in mice.

The nano-sized drug delivery method developed at Washington State University successfully treated both the bacterial growth and inflammation in the mice’s lungs. The study, recently published in Communications Biology, shows a potential new strategy for treating infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“If a doctor simply gives two drugs to a patient, they don’t go directly to the lungs. They circulate in the whole body, so potentially there’s a lot of toxicity,” said Zhenjia Wang, the study’s corresponding author and an associate professor in WSU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Instead, we can load the two types of drugs into these vesicles that specifically target the lung inflammation.”

Wang and his research team have developed a method to essentially peel the membrane from neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cells that lead the body’s immune system response. Once emptied, these membranes can be used as nanovesicles, tiny empty sacks only 100 to 200 nanometers wide, which scientists can then fill with medicine.

These nanovesicles retain some of the properties of the original white blood cells, so when they are injected into a patient, they travel directly to the inflamed area just as the cells would normally, but these nanovesicles carry the medicines that the scientists implanted to attack the infection.

In this study, first author Jin Gao, a WSU research associate, loaded the nanovesicles with an antibiotic and resolvinD1, an anti-inflammatory derived from Omega 3 fatty acids, to treat lungs infected by P. aeruginosa, a common potentially fatal pathogen patients can catch in hospital settings. The researchers used two drugs because lung infections often create two problems, the infection itself and inflammation created by a strong immune system response.

Toxicity studies and clinical trials would have to be conducted before this method could be used in human patients, but this study provides evidence that the innovation works for lung inflammation. If the method is ultimately proven safe and effective for humans, Wang said the nanovesicles could be loaded with any type of drug to treat a range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“I think it’s possible to translate this technology to help treat COVID-19,” said Wang. “COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial pathogen, but it also causes an inflammation response in the lung, so we could load an antiviral drug like remdesivir into the nanovesicle, and it would target that inflammation.”


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College of Human Medicine student receives Diversity in Medicine Scholarship | MSUToday

College of Human Medicine student Michelle Walls is the first recipient of a Diversity in Medicine Scholarship under a program created by Dr. Mehmet Oz to inspire future doctors in underserved communities.

Walls learned she would receive the scholarship during an appearance on “The Dr. Oz Show,” which aired Nov. 25. Due to COVID-19, the second-year student appeared on the program through a virtual link. She was under the impression she was only a finalist for the scholarship until Oz announced she was the actual recipient.

“I was really caught off guard,” she said. “It was a perfect surprise.”

College of Human Medicine student Michelle Wallw


It was perfect, not only because it recognizes her many volunteer activities and the obstacles she overcame to become a medical student, but also because the $10,000 scholarship goes a long way toward covering her tuition.

The scholarship is part of a broader campaign called More Black Doctors that Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, founded to encourage more African Americans to become physicians, particularly in underserved communities. Applicants must be undergraduates or in medical school and show a commitment to serve their communities and tackle health inequities.

After applying and undergoing a series of interviews, Walls clearly met the program’s criteria.

“I was so inspired by your dedication, yet you never give up,” Oz told Walls. “One of the things that inspired me about you is you’ve already been out there trying to pass it along, trying to change each other and how we practice medicine.”

Asked what advice she would give others considering a career in medicine, Walls said, “I would say to them to not give up, because for me, my journey wasn’t straight. It definitely wasn’t easy. I heard a lot of ‘no’s’. So you’ve got to put those ‘no’s’ behind you and find someone who tells you that you still can.”

When she was 6 years old, her father died. Three years later, she and her three younger siblings were placed in Detroit-area foster homes because their mother was unable to care for them. When she turned 18, Walls aged out of her third foster home and was on her own.

Struggling with obesity, she embarked on a healthy diet and exercise program and shed the extra pounds. She then founded a nonprofit, Lifestyle Fitness Empowerment Inc., to encourage others to achieve better health through proper nutrition and exercise.

“I basically felt better about myself, and I wanted to show other people how they could do it,” she said.

 After graduating from MSU, Walls was accepted in the College of Human Medicine. She volunteers at a Lansing homeless shelter and with the Spartan Street Medicine, a program run by the Colleges of Human Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine to serve homeless people in Ingham County.

“A lot of it is just talking to them and helping them with whatever they’re going through,” Walls said.

Part of her mission is to share her own story, hoping it is an inspiration for others who might think medical

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Israel begins human trials for coronavirus vaccine

Israel began human trials for its own coronavirus vaccine as the Jewish state’s second lockdown comes to a gradual end.

Two volunteers in separate hospitals – one in Tel Aviv and another in Jerusalem – have started the trials. If the two, Segev Harel and Aner Ottolenghi, feel in good health in the next two days, another 80 people will join the first phase of the trial.

According to officials, each volunteer will get either a dose of the vaccine or a placebo and will be sent home, where they will be monitored for three weeks for any possible side effects or whether they develop antibodies.

Harel said he is very proud to be part of such an important national mission and said he is not nervous.

Segev Harel at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Segev Harel at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
(Israeli Defense Ministry)


If the first phase is successful, the second phase is scheduled for December and will include nearly 1,000 volunteers. A final phase will be open to 30,000 volunteers and will begin in April 2021.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where the first vaccine was administered.

Segev Harel meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Segev Harel meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
(Israeli Defense Ministry)

“There is a cause for a measure of cautious optimism today,” Gantz said. “Optimism, because I think excellent work is being done by our top scientists across the board, all of whom are giving their very best, and this is cause for optimism.”

He said it will take time to track and process the data and draw conclusions. He asked for patience.

“I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Netanyahu said. “I see the vaccines in the state of Israel. In this means or another, a vaccine developed here or abroad we will bring enough vaccines to the Israeli citizens, and we will break free from this pandemic.”

The commercial name of the vaccine is “BriLife.” The first part of the name, “Bri”, refers to the Hebrew word for health, “briut,” the second part, “il” alludes to Israel, and “life” speaks to the importance of the vaccine.

Israeli scientists have begun the first coronavirus vaccine trial.

Israeli scientists have begun the first coronavirus vaccine trial.
(Israeli Defense Ministry)


According to the Israel Institute for Biological Research, large-scale production of the vaccine has been implemented. To date, the institute has produced more than 25,000 vaccine doses.

“The work of all the hidden heroes in the institute and the hospitals has been poured into a little bottle which has the potential to bring a life-saving vaccine to the citizens of the state of Israel,” Dr. Shmuel Yitzhaki, head of the Biology Division at the IIBR told Fox News.

Officials said that, if all goes well, the vaccine could be ready for the general population as early as summer 2021.


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Health and Human Services closed standalone vaccine office, merged it amid restructuring

The claim: The U.S. government’s  vaccine safety office was closed.

The deadly spread of COVID-19 has triggered a blame game on social media amid the election season.

On Oct. 25, the group Occupy Democrats claimed on Facebook that the Trump administration in 2019 “quietly closed a vaccine safety office, hindering efforts to trace the long-term safety of a COVID vaccine. This is a shocking disregard for the health and wellbeing of Americans. If at this stage, you still think Trump cares about you, you’re not smart enough to vote.”

More: Fact check: Neither Biden nor Trump is calling for mandated COVID-19 vaccines

Origin of the vaccine office claim

The claim stems from reorganization within the Department of Health and Human Services that affected the National Vaccine Program Office.

In March 2019, less than a year before the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., HHS Secretary Alex Azar spelled out the changes in a letter to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is ranking member on the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service, and Education.

As part of a broader reorganization of the department, Azar said, the National Vaccine Program Office was shut down as a separate entity in an effort to “improve the integrity and quality” of programs within the office of the Assistant Secretary for Health “and increase operational efficiencies by eliminating program redundancies and decreasing program costs.”

In this July 27, 2020, file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y.
In this July 27, 2020, file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y.

He said the National Vaccine Program Office would be merged with the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) to form the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP). 

“This effort will provide cross-cutting, science-based, health-promoting advice and recommendations to the ASH on issues pertaining to blood and tissue safety and availability; HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and other infectious diseases; and vaccines and immunization.”

More: Fact check: Trump’s past flu vaccinations not linked to increased COVID-19 risk

He said the changes were proposed by a ” working group of career staff” and would allow for the “more efficient management” of multiple committees currently managed separately by vaccine and HIV/AIDS offices.

In effect, the vaccine office was merged into one focused on infectious diseases.

The effect of the restructuring

The New York Times, quoting experts, said the elimination of the office left the long-term safety effort for coronavirus vaccines fragmented among federal agencies, with no central leadership.

While the office was ostensibly folded into another, it no longer really functions as it did before, said Daniel Salmon. He was director of vaccine safety at National Vaccine Program Office from 2007-12. He now directs the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In part, people with the necessary training and background are no longer on staff.

“When you remove all the technical experience, you don’t have the capacity to make

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Human Challenge Trials Will Deliberately Infect Dozens in the UK

Young, healthy people will be intentionally exposed to the virus responsible for COVID-19 in a first-of-its kind ‘human challenge trial’, the UK government and a company that runs such studies announced on 20 October. The experiment, set to begin in January in a London hospital if it receives final regulatory and ethical approval, aims to accelerate the development of vaccines that could end the pandemic.

Human challenge trials have a history of providing insight into diseases such as malaria and influenza. The UK trial will try to identify a suitable dose of the virus SARS-CoV-2 that could be used in future vaccine trials. But the prospect of deliberately infecting people—even those at low risk of severe disease—with SARS-CoV-2, a deadly pathogen that has few proven treatments, is uncharted medical and bioethical territory.

Proponents of COVID-19 challenge trials have argued that they can be run safely and ethically, and that their potential to quickly identify effective vaccines outweighs the low risks to participants. But others have raised questions about the safety and value of these studies, pointing out that large-scale efficacy trials involving tens of thousands of people are expected to deliver results on several COVID-19 vaccines soon.

“Deliberately infecting volunteers with a known human pathogen is never undertaken lightly. However, such studies are enormously informative about a disease,” said Peter Openshaw, an immunologist at Imperial College London and investigator on the study, in a press statement. “It is really vital that we move as fast as possible towards getting effective vaccines and other treatments for COVID-19, and challenge studies have the potential to accelerate and de-risk the development of novel drugs and vaccines.”

Dose testing

The planned COVID-19 challenge study will be led by a Dublin-based commercial clinical-research organization called Open Orphan and its subsidiary hVIVO, which runs challenge trials on respiratory pathogens. It will take place in the high-level isolation unit of the Royal Free Hospital in north London, says Open Orphan executive chair Cathal Friel.

The UK government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce has agreed to pay the company up to £10 million (US$13 million) to conduct the trial, with the possibility of contracting Open Orphan to run several more to test various vaccines. The UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates clinical trials in the United Kingdom, and an ethical review committee, still need to approve the initial trial and its design, and that of future studies.

The initial trial will involve an estimated 30–50 participants, says Andrew Catchpole, a virologist and the chief scientific officer at Open Orphan who is leading the work. It is open only to healthy adults aged 18–30.

The precise design of the study has not been finalized. But it is likely that a small number of participants will receive a very low dose of a SARS-CoV-2 ‘challenge strain’ derived from a currently circulating virus and grown under stringent conditions. If none or few of the participants become infected, the researchers will seek permission from an independent safety monitoring board to expose

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The global human microbiome market is expected to reach US$ 1,873.53 million by 2027 from US$ 356.29 million in 2019

The market is estimated to grow with a CAGR of 23. 6% from 2020 to 2027. The growth of the market is driven by the factors such as increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases, increasing focus on human microbiome therapies, and growing technological advancements in metagenomics and next-generation sequencing.

New York, Oct. 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — announces the release of the report “Human Microbiome Market Forecast to 2027 – COVID-19 Impact and Global Analysis by Product, Disease, Application, and Geography” –
On the other hand, strict government guidelines and lack of knowledge and detailed examination are likely to have a negative impact on the growth of the market in the coming years.

Humans usually coexist with the diverse microbial species living within and over humans.Various recent scientific studies have proven that the microbial community essentially acts like an organ of the body that plays a crucial role in human disease management and physiology.

Various basic and translational research efforts have been initiated that focuses on deciphering mechanisms of the microbiome function and the ways that it benefits the human health.Various human medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases and obesity have been closely associated with and are thought to be influenced by the composition of the gut microbial community.

Many efforts are taken to alter the gut microbiome to eradicate several diseases. Probiotics, prebiotics dietary supplements, and foods that contain live microbes have been studied thoroughly to assess their effects on human health.

The Human Microbiome Project of the National Institutes of Health in the US and related international efforts are defining the varieties of a normal microbiome, studying how changes in the microbiota relate to diseases. Large governmental research initiatives including the Human Microbiome Project in the U.S. and the MetaHIT Project in Europe have accelerated research on the human microbiome.

Based on product, the human microbiome market is segmented into probiotics, foods, prebiotics, medical foods, diagnostic devices, drugs, and supplements. In 2019, the probiotics segment held the largest share of 24.73% of the human microbiome market, by product. This segment is also expected to dominate the market in 2027 owing to increasing health concerns; growing awareness regarding the relation of nutrition, diet, and health; and increasing probiotics market penetration in dairy and other foods. Furthermore, the prebiotics segment is anticipated to witness the fastest growth rate during the forecast period.

Several players have observed good demand for human microbiome based products during the initial period of COVID-19, particularly from the food & beverages industry.In addition, researchers are studying the correlation between gut bacteria and COVID-19.

Many researchers have showcased gut bacteria’s implication in different health conditions, from type 2 diabetes to depression. However, the obstacles in supply chains and distribution networks resulting in unavailability of human microbiome based products in various parts of the world are likely to hamper the growth of the market in 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), European Union, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,

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Vaccine Human Challenge Trials, Manchester Latest

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Vaccine Human Challenge Trials Planned

Imperial College London is leading a world-first exploration of coronavirus vaccine human challenge trials.

UK COVID Challenge will work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the private company hVIVO, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Healthy volunteers aged 18 and 30 with no previous history or symptoms of COVID-19 will be recruited.

They’ll be infected with the smallest amount of virus needed for a person to develop COVID-19 in a virus characterisation study.

Although there are risks with human challenge trials, they make it easier to test and compare vaccines without varying infection rates in the population.

The study will have special ethical oversight and will need Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval before it begins, potentially early next year.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Chiu from Imperial commented: “Our number one priority is the safety of the volunteers. My team has been safely running human challenge studies with other respiratory viruses for over 10 years. No study is completely risk free, but the Human Challenge Programme partners will be working hard to ensure we make the risks as low as we possibly can.”

Co-investigator Professor Peter Openshaw added: “Deliberately infecting volunteers with a known human pathogen is never undertaken lightly. However, such studies are enormously informative about a disease, even one so well studied as COVID-19.”

Among those commenting via the Science Media Centre, Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said: “By carrying out this type of study in a controlled environment, researchers can learn at pace about the disease, which will ultimately increase our ability to control the pandemic and save lives.”

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance sounded another note of caution on vaccination yesterday. “I think it is unlikely that we will end up with a truly sterilising vaccine that completely stops infection. It is likely that this disease will circulate and be endemic,” he told the joint Commons and Lords National Security Strategy Committee.

Manchester Latest

Greater Manchester was given a noon deadline to accept a deal to go into the ‘very high’ Tier 3 local lockdown. That passed without agreement.

The decision came down to local officials saying they were £5m short of the £65m financial support they requested from the Government.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing he’d be imposing Tier 3 status on Greater Manchester from Friday. “Not to act would put Manchester’s NHS, and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents at risk,” he said.

NHS England National Medical Director Prof Stephen Powis said: “There are more patients in hospitals in Greater Manchester alone at the moment than there are in hospitals in the entire South East, and South West of the country.”

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Prof Jonathan Van Tam was asked if he supported a Wales-style ‘national firebreak’.

In areas where the virus is out of control he

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