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UK vaccine approval ‘historic moment’ in Covid-19 battle: Pfizer CEO

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.

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The United Kingdom has become the first country to authorise the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use. Britain on December 2 said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out for use from next week.

“The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use,” the government said.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week,” it added.

Pfizer said Britain’s emergency use authorization marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19. “This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

“As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world,” Bourla added.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the programme would begin early next week. “Hospitals are already ready to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It is very good news,” Hancock said.

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Natural antioxidants can keep heart, cancer diseases at bay

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If you want to keep your immune system strong for fighting cardiovascular diseases or cancer, start taking natural antioxidants as health experts on Sunday stressed that it helps in improving overall health by providing many other health benefits.

According to experts, antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.

The latest antioxidant which is produced for the first time in India is gamma oryzanol, which is very quickly gaining popularity as a super antioxidant.

It is a substance that is taken out of rice bran oil. It is also found in wheat bran and some fruits and vegetables.

The experts said that gamma oryzanol is used for high cholesterol, symptoms of menopause and many other conditions.

“Gamma oryzanol is useful for controlling elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, supporting cardiovascular health along with controlling menopausal symptoms. Gamma oryzanol helps lower cholesterol because it helps decrease cholesterol absorption and increase cholesterol elimination. Along with this, it is also known to boost metabolic rate and may help with weight loss,” Swapna Chaturvedi, senior dietician, Department of Dietetics, AIIMS told IANS.

As gamma oryzanol is found to be effective in controlling high cholesterol level in the body, it is registered in Japan and the US as a natural medicine to treat hyperlipidemia/dyslipidaemia (elevated cholesterol levels/unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Most research shows that taking natural antioxidants decreases total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides in people with high cholesterol.

“It also helps in preventing heart attack by preventing platelet aggregation, a system where platelets blood gets stuck together and form clots that block arteries,” said Praveen Chandra, Head of Department, Interventional Cardiology, Medanta, The Medicity in Gurugram.

The experts mentioned that gamma oryzanol is also used for increasing testosterone and human growth hormone levels, as well as improving strength during resistance exercise training.

Gamma oryzanol also helps to inhibit different cancers in the body and builds immunity to fight cancer cells.

“Many of the antioxidants have proven beneficial in inhibiting the cancers at various stages. Gamma oryzanol has been found out to be effective antioxidant which comes from rice bran and helps in preventing cancer if taken for a long period,” said Rahul Bhargava, Director, Institute of Blood Disorder and BMT, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

Gamma oryzanol is basically activator of NK cells which gives the cancer cells a check.

It not only works through NK cells but also inhibits angiogenesis. It means it cuts the supply for the cancer cells to grow and increases your body’s own immunity to gather the strength to kill cancers.

“Gamma oryzanol also prevents cancers and studies show it helps in regressing the prostate cancer cells,” Bhargava noted.

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No benefit from arthritis drug for severe Covid patients: Study

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Contrary to a few studies that earlier suggested benefits from an arthritis drug for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 infection, a new study indicates that it is not better than standard care alone.

According to the researchers, including Regis G Rosa from Hospital Moinhos de Vento in Brazil, there was an increased number of deaths at 15 days in patients receiving an arthritis drug — tocilizumab — that resulted in the trial being stopped early.

These results contradict earlier observational studies suggesting benefit from tocilizumab. However, observational effects are limited by a high risk that they may be due to other unknown (confounding) factors — and some studies have not yet been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal, the researchers said in a paper published in The BMJ journal.

Tocilizumab blocks a specific part of the immune system (interleukin 6) that can go into overdrive in some patients with Covid-19.

According to the team, doctors think this might help lessen the body’s inflammatory response to the virus and avert some of the more dire consequences of the disease, but its effects are not well defined.

To test this theory, researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial involving 129 Covid-19 patients with an average age of 57 years and compared tocilizumab plus standard care with standard care alone.

Patients were receiving supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation and had abnormal levels of at least two chemicals linked to inflammation in their blood.

The study participants were randomly divided into two groups — 65 received tocilizumab plus standard care and 64 received standard care alone. All patients were monitored for 15 days.

By day 15, 18 (28 per cent) patients in the tocilizumab group and 13 (20 per cent) in the standard care group were receiving mechanical ventilation or had died.

Death at 15 days occurred in 11 (17 per cent) patients in the tocilizumab group compared with 2 (3 per cent) in the standard care group.

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Male sex hormones may help treat breast cancer: Study

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

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Sydney : Researchers have found new evidence about the positive role of androgens, commonly thought of as male sex hormones but also found at lower levels in women, in breast cancer treatment.

In normal breast development, estrogen stimulates and androgen inhibits growth at puberty and throughout adult life.

Abnormal estrogen activity is responsible for the majority of breast cancers, but the role of androgen activity in this disease has been controversial.

The new research published in the journal Nature Medicine showed that androgens have potential for treatment of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

A cancer is called estrogen receptor positive if it has receptors for estrogen, according to Breastcancer.org.

Using cell-line and patient-derived models, the global team, including researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, demonstrated that androgen receptor activation by natural androgen or a new androgenic drug had potent anti-tumour activity in all estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, even those resistant to current standard-of-care treatments.

In contrast, androgen receptor inhibitors had no effect.

“This work has immediate implications for women with metastatic estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, including those resistant to current forms of endocrine therapy,” said lead researcher Theresa Hickey, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide.

“We provide compelling new experimental evidence that androgen receptor stimulating drugs can be more effective than existing (e.g. Tamoxifen) or new (e.g. Palbociclib) standard-of-care treatments and, in the case of the latter, can be combined to enhance growth inhibition,” said Wayne Tilley, Director of the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide.

Androgens were historically used to treat breast cancer, but knowledge of hormone receptors in breast tissue was rudimentary at the time and the treatment’s efficacy misunderstood.

Androgen therapy was discontinued due to virilising side effects and the advent of anti-estrogenic endocrine therapies.

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

“The new insights from this study should clarify the widespread confusion over the role of the androgen receptor in estrogen receptor driven breast cancer,” said Elgene Lim, a breast oncologist and Head of the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Lab at the Garvan Institute.

“Given the efficacy of this treatment strategy at multiple stages of disease in our study, we hope to translate these findings into clinical trials as a new class of endocrine therapy for breast cancer.”

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