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Brain protein that could protect against Alzheimer’s disease

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Researchers have found that a protein that regulates white blood cells in the human brain could protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

The results published in the journal Communications Biology suggest that this protein, called CD33, could have important implications in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

“Immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease,” explained study co-author Matthew Macauley, Assistant Professor at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

“They can be harmful or protective. Swaying microglia from a harmful to protective state could be the key to treating the disease,” Macauley added.

Scientists have identified the CD33 protein as a factor that may decrease a person’s likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, Macauley’s research has shown that the most common type of CD33 protein plays a crucial role in modulating the function of microglia.

“The fact that CD33 is found on microglia suggests that immune cells can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease under the right circumstances,” said Abhishek Bhattacherjee, first author and postdoctoral fellow in the Macauley lab.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 44 million people around the world.

“These findings set the stage for future testing of a causal relationship between CD33 and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as testing therapeutic strategies to sway microglia from harmful to protecting against the disease – by targeting CD33,” said Macauley.

“Microglia have the potential to ‘clean up’ the neurodegenerative plaques, through a process called phagocytosis — so a therapy to harness this ability to slow down or reverse Alzheimer’s disease can be envisioned,” Macauley said.

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WHO underestimates coronavirus’ ability to spread: Study

The World Health Organization estimates that the coronavirus has a transmissibility, expressed as a reproduction number, of between 1.4 and 2.5.

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London, Feb 15 : The novel coronavirus may have greater ability to spread than the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated so far, according to a review of previous studies of the virus’ transmissibility.

“Our review shows that the coronavirus is at least as transmissible as the SARS virus. And that says a great deal about the seriousness of the situation,” said Joacim Rocklov, Professor of Sustainable Health at Umea University in Sweden and one of the authors of the study, published in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

The World Health Organization estimates that the coronavirus has a transmissibility, expressed as a reproduction number, of between 1.4 and 2.5.

A reproduction number is a measurement of how many people a contaminated person transmits the virus to in a previously healthy population.

The higher the number, the more transferable the virus is and the higher the risk of its rapid spread.

When the reproduction number falls below 1.0, the epidemic is likely to die out.

Researchers in Umea in Sweden, Heidelberg in Germany and Zhangzhou in China have carried out a review of several scientific studies of the novel coronavirus.

In total, the researchers found twelve studies of sufficiently high quality.

The studies consisted of estimations of the growth rate based upon the cases observed in the Chinese population, and based upon statistical and mathematical methods.

The earliest studies of the coronavirus indicated a relatively low transmissibility. Thereafter, the transmissibility rose rapidly to stabilise between 2-3 in the most recent studies.

The reproduction number in the studies summed up to a mean of 3.28, and a median of 2.79, which is significantly higher than the World Health Organization’s estimation of 1.4-2.5.

“When looking at the development of the corona epidemic, reality seems to correspond well to or even exceed the highest epidemic growth in our calculations. Despite all intervention and control activities, the coronavirus has already spread to a significantly higher extent than SARS did,” said Rocklov.

The overall death toll in China due to the deadly coronavirus on Saturday increased to 1,523, with a total of 66,492 confirmed cases, authorities said.

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Novel coronavirus to be called COVID-19: WHO

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New Delhi, Feb 12 : The deadly novel coronavirus has now got its official name. From now on, the virus will be known as ‘COVID-19’.

In a statement released by the World Health Organisation, its Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “we now have a name for the disease: COVID-19. I’ll spell it: C-O-V-I-D hyphen one nine – COVID-19.” He termed the virus as “a common enemy.”

The statement was released on Tuesday by the World Health Organisation.

The WHO chief also said that, “under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease. Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

According to the World Health Organisation there were 42,708 confirmed cases reported in China, and tragically the death toll surpassed 1000 deaths as on Tuesday. “1017 people in China have lost their lives due to this virus. Most of the cases and most of the deaths are in Hubei province. Outside China, there are 393 cases in 24 countries, and 1 death,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.

The world health body also said that it had activated a UN Crisis Management Team, to be led by Dr Mike Ryan that will help the organisation focus on the health response while the other agencies could bring their expertise to bear on the wider social, economic and developmental implications of the outbreak so we are all working to our strengths. Dr Mike Ryan will coordinate the whole UN response.

WHO is also hosting a two-day meeting of more than 400 scientists from around the world, both in person and virtually called Global research and innovation forum on February 11 and 12.

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Coronavirus: WHO team of international experts on way to China

“The team’s objective is to learn from Chinese counterparts’ experience in dealing with this event so that the world can learn from them,” he added.

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Geneva, Feb 10 : World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that a WHO-led team of international experts has left for China following the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.

Tedros said on Twitter late on Sunday that he had “just been at the airport seeing off members of an advance team for the WHO-led 2019-nCoV international expert mission to China, led by Dr Bruce Aylward,” who is a Canadian epidemiologist and emergencies expert and also a “veteran of past public health emergencies.”

The WHO chief did not reveal any more details or the team’s schedule, Xinhua reported.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said earlier that the WHO-coordinated team of global experts will cover clinical management, virology, vaccine, drug development, ecological investigation, animal health, epidemiology, public health and risk communication.

“The team’s objective is to learn from Chinese counterparts’ experience in dealing with this event so that the world can learn from them,” he added.

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