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Researchers develop coronavirus vaccine candidate

The next stage is to produce this on a larger scale needed for additional testing, to determine its effectiveness against the virus.

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Sydney, Feb 22 : A team of researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia has created their first vaccine candidate in the laboratory for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The team will move immediately into further development before formal pre-clinical testing, the university said on Friday.

The proof-of-concept milestone comes in less than a month after the project’s announcement on January 24 as part of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) rapid response programme.

“There is still extensive testing to ensure that the vaccine candidate is safe and creates an effective immune response, but the technology and the dedication of these researchers means the first hurdle has been passed,” said University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor and President Peter Hoj AC.

The work in the lab shows the feasibility of using the university’s “molecular clamp” technology to engineer a vaccine candidate that could be more readily recognised by the immune system, triggering a protective immune response.

The next stage is to produce this on a larger scale needed for additional testing, to determine its effectiveness against the virus.

Researchers said the early research had gone “as expected” and the material created had the properties which allowed the team to proceed with vaccine development.

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Faculty of Johns Hopkins University authored COVID-19 report on India

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New Delhi, March 29 : A story by IANS on the impact of coronavirus in India earlier this week was based on a study done by a faculty of Johns Hopkins University, the institution has said in a tweet.

There were some reports about Johns Hopkins disassociating itself from CDDEP’s Covid-19 study.

Johns Hopkins University tweeted on Saturday late night clarifying that the study was done by a faculty of JHU and states that the use of strong scientific modeling based on available data and clear assumptions to help inform the COVID-19 response in India.

“New report co-authored by faculty w/ appointments at @JohnsHopkinsSPH uses strong scientific modelling based on available data & clear assumptions to help inform the #Covid19 response in India. Note: Its findings do not reflect the views of @JohnsHopkins,” said the tweet by The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health- focusing on global health research, education, policy and practice.

The research was done by faculty of Johns Hopkins University, it clarified, although the study does not reflect the views of the University.

The study titled Covid 19 for India updates was authored by Eili Klein, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Gary Lin, Post Doctoral Fellow of the same department, Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP, Senior Associate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Senior Research Scholar, Princeton University and authors from CDDEP.

Following an earlier clarification from JHU, TV channel group, NDTV deleted the IANS report. Similarly, Alt News had also pointed out this clarification.

Furthermore, Laxminarayan has written an op-ed piece for the New York Times on what India should do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Senior research scholar at @PrincetonPEI Ramanan Laxminarayan writes an op-ed for @nytimes about what India should do to fight #COVID19,” said a tweet from Princeton University on Saturday.

To put the facts straight, aside from some standards on studies not representing the views of an institution, the IANS report was based on a credible report in the public domain which had faculty from Johns Hopkins University, the pre-eminent research institution as authors and one author who is associated both with Johns Hopkins and Princeton, another premier institution.

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Covid-19 world toll crosses 30,000, cases over 640,000

The COVID-19 is affecting 132 countries and territories around the world.

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New Delhi, March 29 : The number of coronavirus cases across the world rose to 640,589 as on Saturday evening, with the US leading with 115,547 cases, while the global death toll rose to 30,249 according to data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Italy, with 10,023 fatalities, comprised over one third of the death toll, and was followed by Spain with 5,812 and China’s Hubei with 3,177. Iran with 2,517 deaths, and France with 2,314 were joined in the four-figure category by the UK, where the toll is now 1,019.

As regards the total number of cases, the US was followed by Italy (92,472), China (81,999), Spain (72,248), Germany (56,202), Iran (35,408), France (33,450) and the UK (17,301).

Meanwhile, a total of 137,283 people have recovered from the infection with the bulk — 62,098 — of them from China’s Hubei, the site of the disease outbreak, followed by 12,384 in Italy, 12,285 in Spain, 11,679 in Iran, and 6,658 in Germany.

The death toll had crossed 25,000 on Friday night, with the total number of cases around the world then were 553,244, with the US leading the tally at 86,012, followed by China at 81,897 and Italy at 80,859.

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Legal marijuana products too strong for pain relief: Study

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New York, March 28 : More than 90 per cent of the legal marijuana products offered in medical dispensaries are much stronger than what clinical studies have shown that doctors recommend for chronic pain relief, according to new research.

“We know that high-potency products should not have a place in the medical realm because of the high risk of developing cannabis-use disorders, which are related to exposure to high THC-content products,” said the study’s lead author, Alfonso Edgar Romero-Sandoval from Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US.

Several studies showed that levels of up to five per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that provides pain relief as well as intoxication – were sufficient to reduce chronic pain with minimal side effects.

The goal of the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE was to evaluate the advertised THC and cannabidiol (CBD) content of legal cannabis products to determine their suitability for medicinal use and to compare the potency of the products offered in medical and recreational programmes.

The researchers recorded the concentrations of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) – the non-euphoric compound in marijuana – in all plant cannabis products provided by legal dispensary websites and compared them between or within the states in the study: California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

A total of 8,505 cannabis products across 653 dispensaries were sampled.

The researchers found that most of the products offered in the medical dispensaries in the study had more than 10 per cent THC and that many had 15 per cent or more, the same as what is available in products at recreational dispensaries.

“This is problematic because between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of people who use medical marijuana use it for pain relief,” Romero-Sandoval said.

The higher the concentration of THC the greater risk, not only for developing dependency but also for developing tolerance more quickly, which means higher and higher concentrations might be needed to get the same level of pain relief, the study said.

“Better regulation of the potency of medical marijuana products is critical. The FDA regulates the level of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen that have dose-specific side effects, so why don’t we have policies and regulations for cannabis, something that is far more dangerous?,” Romero-Sandoval said.

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