Cholesterol medicine affects the organs differently

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600,000 Danes take medicine containing statins. Statins lower the cholesterol level and thus helps prevent cardiovascular disease and blood clots. But there is a different side to the coin.

Treatment with statins may also have negative side effects, some of which are so severe that people suffering from elevated cholesterol choose to stop treatment. One of the main side effects is muscle pain, also called myalgia, which may lead to reduced quality of life, pain and inactivity due to the pain.

Statins inhibit the production of cholesterol in the cell, but it also inhibit an important element in the energy production in the cells’ mitochondria. Mitochondria are small, energy-producing organelles found in almost all cells in the body. Statins are suspected of lowering the energy level in the cells, thus causing myalgia in muscle cells.

The researchers therefore wished to determine whether statins also inhibited the energy production in blood cell mitochondria. And research from the Center for Healthy Aging at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences now shows that statins do not have the expected effect.

“We can see that long-term treatment with statins at the recommended dose increases the blood cells’ ability to produce energy. These are surprising results. We had expected statins to behave the same way that they do in muscle cells, but in fact they do the exact opposite here,” says Executive Director and Professor at the Center for Healthy Aging Lene Juel Rasmussen.

Statins Do Both Good and Bad

Even though the surprising results challenge the theory that statins lower the energy level, this does not necessarily mean that statins do not have adverse effects on some organs.

Because the results say nothing about whether the statins are responsible for affecting the energy level or it is the body that does that to compensate for the change caused by the statins.

“Statins are quite mysterious, as they can have both positive and negative consequences depending on the part of the body,” says Lene Juel Rasmussen.

“Our results show an increase in the energy level in the blood cells, but whether that is good or bad, we cannot say. It can either mean that the statins improve the blood cells’ ability to produce energy, which would be a good thing, or that the statins do damage and that the body consequently raises the energy level to mend that damage,” she explains.

Different Effects on Different Parts of the Body

Even though the mechanism behind statins’ effect on the blood remains unknown, the new results provide brand new insight into the effect of statins: Contrary to expectation, statins behave differently in different parts of the body.

“Previous studies suggest that statins have a potentially beneficial effect on some forms of cancer and possibly also on some forms of dementia. If we are able to produce new knowledge on the effect of statins on various parts of the body, we can use this knowledge to design drugs based on the beneficial effects.

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Miniature organs help test potential coronavirus drugs; GI symptoms linked to severe COVID-19

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Miniature lungs, colons help test COVID-19 treatments

Tiny organ-like structures grown in the laboratory to behave like human lungs and colons can be used to rapidly screen drugs and identify those with potential as COVID-19 treatments, researchers reported on Wednesday in Nature. Compared with traditional pre-clinical approaches, in which drugs are tested in cells from monkeys or from human cancer patients, these so-called organoids more faithfully mimic the complex cell types and structure of human tissues, according to Dr. Shuibing Chen and Dr. Robert Schwartz of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Their team developed organoids containing types of lung and colon cells that are known to become infected in people with COVID-19. In collaboration with teams at Columbia University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, they screened 1,200 FDA-approved drugs and found three that showed activity against the novel coronavirus, including the cancer drug imatinib, sold as Gleevec by Novartis. It is currently being tested in four different COVID-19 clinical trials. (https://go.nature.com/34CLDtS)

GI symptoms linked with more severe COVID-19

Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are associated with more severe COVID-19 and worse outcomes, two research teams reported on Monday, a reversal of earlier data that suggested the opposite was true. One team reviewed 38 earlier studies of a total of more than 8,400 patients and found those with diarrhea were 63% more likely to develop severe COVID-19. Dr. Subash Ghimire of Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Pennsylvania suggested that patients with diarrhea may have higher viral loads, which can potentially lead the body to fight back with more severe responses. The other team studied 921 patients and found that the roughly 22% with at least one GI symptom had higher rates of hospital and intensive-care unit admissions and greater need for mechanical breathing assistance. The more GI symptoms patients had, the more their risk for these outcomes increased, Dr. Darbaz Adnan of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reported. He said doctors evaluating COVID-19 patients need to bear in mind that GI symptoms may signal a markedly higher risk of a worsened disease course. Both studies were presented at the American College of Gastroenterology virtual annual meeting. (https://bit.ly/37OgZQh)

UK population with COVID-19 antibodies is shrinking

A new wave of coronavirus infections has been spreading in the UK, but the proportion of the population there with antibodies to the virus has been shrinking, potentially leaving more people vulnerable, new data show. In a report posted on Tuesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, scientists at Imperial College London say that while 6% of the population had COVID-19 antibodies around the end of June, that rate fell to just 4.4% in September. Antibodies are not the body’s only line of defense. Also important are immune cells called T cells and B cells that

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Newborn Loses Several Organs After North Carolina Hospital Allegedly Inserts Feeding Tube Incorrectly

A mother has filed a lawsuit against a North Carolina hospital for allegedly making a mistake following her newborn baby’s heart surgery, which has left him “fighting for his life.”

Messiah was born with a heart condition in November last year. A few days after his birth, the boy underwent a surgery at the Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center.

Following the surgery, the child had trouble taking the feeding bottle, and when the mother, Shytilya Springs, informed the hospital, they decided to insert a feeding tube. 

However, the boy’s condition got worse after it was discovered the tube had pierced his intestines and all the nutrition they had supplied to the child through the tube had leaked. This caused the boy to lose several organs.

The mother told WSOC-TV that the boy is “still fighting for his life” and said the hospital is at fault.

Springs has now filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the medical staff. She is suing them because she would need nearly $20 million to look after her son for the rest of his life. Springs also said that as of now, the boy can’t taste food or eat.

“Once you put all the food into his abdomen, you either increase the pressure which compromised blood flow or the chemical reaction between the food products and his intestines caused the tissue breakdown. So, his stomach and intestines became necrotic. Essentially, they died. It became necessary to remove them to save his life,” attorney Charles Monnett said in the lawsuit, the television station reported.

The hospital is yet to comment on the lawsuit. However, they did appear in court and denied all the allegations.

Meanwhile, the Duke University Hospital is trying to determine if the boy could undergo an intestinal transplant. It wasn’t clear if the mother approached the hospital.

“I want him to be better,” Springs told the television station. 

Baby Feet This is a representational image of a baby’s feet. Photo: Pixabay

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