Boosting The Immune System Could Be A Treatment Strategy For COVID-19

Boosting The Immune System Could Be A Treatment Strategy For COVID-19

  • August 6, 2020

Since the beginning of this outbreak holistic practitioners and the health conscious around the globe have been encouraging people to make better lifestyle choices and boost their immune system , and to be honest they have been for decades. Now Washington University appears to be joining that cause and is suggesting that boosting the immune system could be a treatment strategy for COVID-19. 

“We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens”

A large portion of research into this virus is focused on the immune system’s role in those who became seriously ill. One of the emerging theories suggests that the immune system works so hard at fighting off this virus that it can result in fatal organ damage, particularly in the lungs. 

Researchers from Washington University St.Louis are pointing to another theory that is getting overlooked which suggests that patients become ill because their immune system is not able to do enough to protect them from the virus, and as such the team is suggesting that boosting the immune system could be a potential treatment strategy. The team has also been investigating a similar approach with sepsis, according to a release. 

“People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things,” said Richard S. Hotchkiss, professor of anesthesiology, of medicine and of surgery. “Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”

Autopsy studies were used to show large amounts of the virus present in the organs of those who had lost their battle with the virus, which suggests that their immune system was not working well enough to fight the virus off leading to death. 

“But when we actually looked closely at these patients, we found that their tires, so to speak, were underinflated or immune-suppressed,” said Kenneth Remy, assistant professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of anesthesiology at WashU. “To go and poke holes in them with anti-inflammatory drugs because you think they are hyperinflated or hyperinflamed will only make the suppression and the disease worse.

Blood samples were gathered from 20 COVID-19 patients to test the activity of immune cells in the blood; the team compared those samples with blood of 26 hospitalized sepsis patients and 18 others who were very ill but did not have sepsis or COVID-19. Those with COVID-19 were found to have far fewer circulating immune cells than what is typical and the immune cells present did not secrete normal levels of cytokines. Cytokine molecules are suspected to be the cause of organ damage in death in COVID-19 patients. 

Similar trials and studies focused on boosting immunity are underway in Europe and America which includes Washington University. According to the team finding ways to boost immune responses should help COVID-19 patients, and should also be helpful in avoiding another similar pandemic. 

We should have been geared up and more ready when this pathogen appeared,” said Hotchkiss. “But what Ken [Remy] and I and our colleagues are working on now is finding ways to boost the immune system that may help people during future pandemics. We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens that may be unleashed in the future.

For anyone interested in boosting your immune system, while it is not guaranteed to prevent you from becoming ill, it could help to give you a better chance of recovery. According to Harvard Health the first line of defense when it comes to the immune system is choosing a health lifestyle. Every part of the body functions better when it is protected from environmental assaults and is bolstered by healthy living strategies, such as what is promoted by here at WHN and the A4M.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Not smoking
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Keep levels of stress in check/minimized 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding being sedentary
  • Going outside more
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding alcohol, and if you drink only do it in moderation
  • Being socially active face to face in person when possible
  • Proper hygiene
  • Thoroughly cooking meats
  • Limiting added sugars
  • Staying hydrated
  • Supplementing wisely as needed 

Sandra Darling, DO who is a preventive medicine physician and wellness expert at the Cleveland Clinic says that while there is no magic pill, there are tried and true ways to take your immunity up a notch: 

“Let’s start with the basics: Wash your hands for 20 seconds, don’t touch your face and take distancing seriously,” says Dr. Darling. “If you only do these three things, you’ll be well on your way to staying healthy.”

Dr. Darling prescribes 4 stay healthy strategies. “I believe in the power of immune-boosting foods,” says Dr. Darling. “Choosing whole, unprocessed foods does wonders for overall health.” She recommends garlic, prebiotics, vitamin C rich foods, antioxidants and natural immunity aids as immunity boosters in the focus on food. 

She also recommends simple lifestyle improvements like managing stress, getting enough sleep, meditation, and exercise. “Exercise increases your resilience so you can fight off infection,” says Dr. Darling. “Our bodies function better when we’re physically active every day.”

Like many others Dr. Darling also suggests that a positive mindset is key to health and well being. Positive thoughts have been shown to reduce stress and inflammation while increasing resilience to infection. “The COVID-19 pandemic is scary, so it’s easy to spiral down in negative thoughts,” says Dr. Darling. “The story we tell ourselves is crucial. Change it from ‘It’s not going to be OK’ to ‘I am safe at home with the people I love.’ Start your day with a positive thought or even a mantra such as, ‘I am well.’

“A lot of people are deficient (or low) in vitamin D, and a deficiency may increase your susceptibility to infection,” says Dr. Darling. “Get outside for fresh air and sunshine, but I also recommend taking a daily supplement of 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D.

According to healthline some studies indicate the following supplements may help to strengthen the body’s general immune response: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic. 

  • According to a review in over 11,000 people, taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Yet, supplementing did not prevent the cold to begin with.
  • Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect.
  • In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33%.
  • One small review found that elderberries could reduce the symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections, but more research is needed.
  • A study in over 700 people found that those who took echinacea recovered from colds slightly more quickly than those who received a placebo or no treatment.
  • A high quality, 12-week study in 146 people found that supplementing with garlic reduced the incidence of the common cold by about 30%. However, more research is needed. 
Can boosting the immune system, rather than suppressing it, work against COVID-19? – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Can boosting the immune system, rather than suppressing it, work against COVID-19? – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

  • August 6, 2020

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This episode of ‘Show Me the Science’ details research findings that patients with COVID-19 often develop weakened rather than hyperactive immunity in response to the coronavirus

Matt Miller

A new episode of our podcast, “Show Me the Science,” has been posted. At present, these podcast episodes are highlighting research and patient care on the Washington University Medical Campus as our scientists and clinicians confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

New research from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that the immune systems of COVID-19 patients can’t do enough to protect them from the virus.

A popular theory has it that patients’ immune systems get so revved up fighting the virus that, after several days, a so-called cytokine storm ensues, resulting in potentially fatal organ damage, particularly to the lungs. But new findings from a team of researchers led by Richard S. Hotchkiss, MD, a professor of anesthesiology, and Kenneth E. Remy, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics, have found that many patients get very sick because their immune systems can’t do enough to protect them from the virus. They’re suggesting that rather than trying to dampen the immune response, a better treatment strategy for COVID-19 would involve boosting immunity.

The podcast, “Show Me the Science,” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Related: Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19

Researchers find weakened, rather than hyperactive, immunity in response to virus

Transcript

Transcript coming soon.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.




startups: Immunity boosting chapatis, tea, among eight products developed by startups to combat Covid-19

startups: Immunity boosting chapatis, tea, among eight products developed by startups to combat Covid-19

  • August 6, 2020
BENGALURU: An immunity booster chapati, a telemetry-based device for contactless monitoring of covid-19 patients, an air sanitizer for air-conditioned offices are among the eight products developed by startups at Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre (BBC), all of which centered around limiting the spread of covid pandemic.

Deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayan, who holds the IT portfolio, launched the products on Thursday in the presence of Prime Minister’s principal scientific advisor K Vijay Raghavan. The Centre is an initiative of Karnataka’s IT/BT department.

“These products add to the list of earlier products developed at BBC. This shows that Karnataka has emerged as a leading state in developing solutions to fight the pandemic,” the deputy CM said.

The PM’s scientific advisor said BBC’s partnership with IIMB should help the startups with scaling up their products, market analysis and access to capital.

Here are the details of startups and their products as disclosed by the IT/BT department:

  • Padma Vitals +: Developed by Madan Gopal of Cardiac Design labs, it is a centralized monitoring device for ECG, respiration, Spo2 and body temperature. It measures vitals continuously and the analysis sent through telemetry, with an alerting system embedded in it. The device helps with contactless monitoring of Covid patients and was validated at Narayana Hrudayalaya.
  • Malli’s Cordytea: Developed by Dr. Moushmi Mondal from Mallipatra Neutraceuticals, the product is an immunity booster tea prepared from medicinal mushroom, grown under lab conditions.
  • CD4 Shield : Developed by Vijay Lanka & team from Stabicon, it is a chewable tablet. The product reduces cytokine storm in response to viral infection.
  • BeamRoti : Developed by Srinivas from Aspartika, the product is an immunity booster chapati having mixture of herbs recommended by AYUSH ministry.
  • Immune booster daily drops: Developed by Srinivas from Aspartika, the product is an immunity booster drop having mixture of herbs recommended by the AYUSH ministry.
  • VegPhal : Developed by Deepak Bhajantri from Krimmi Biotech, this fruit and vegetable sanitizer is prepared using edible ingredients effective against microbes and removal of pesticides.
  • Water Sanitizer – Kitchen Tap: The product developed by Ravi Kumar from Biofi is a miniaturized version of UV purifier that can be attached to a water tap and kill 99% of microbes.
  • Anti-Micobial HVAC module: Developed by Ravi Kumar from Biofi, the module can be fitted to HVAC-system to sanitize air indoors.

Post COVID-19 care: Home-cooked food rich in protein and calories key for boosting immunity in recovering coronavirus patients

Post COVID-19 care: Home-cooked food rich in protein and calories key for boosting immunity in recovering coronavirus patients

  • August 6, 2020

A protein-rich diet can help repair damaged body tissues, make up for the muscle loss that occurred while the infection lasted, and boost the immune system too.

If disease — any disease — is taxing on the body and depletes it of nutrition and immunity, then your recovery period should largely focus on replenishing these through a proper diet. This is true for COVID-19 infection, particularly because studies have shown that even mild symptoms of it can cause damage to the heart, lungs and brain.

Why diet matters

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends that those who’re recovering from COVID-19 need more building blocks (like proteins) to repair their bodies and more vitamins and minerals to help the process along. Such a recovery diet would not only help you get your strength back but also boost your immune system and keep other infections at bay until you’re fully back on your feet.

“Your diet, nutrition and fluid intake are of great importance when you’ve had COVID-19,” says Akanksha Mishra, a nutrition and wellness expert associated with myUpchar. “This infection is likely to reduce your appetite, and affect your ability to taste and swallow. So, your post COVID-19 diet should keep all these factors as well as your nutritional needs in mind.” The following are the most important things you must do to meet your nutritional needs during the post COVID-19 recovery period.

1. Get protein

A protein-rich diet can help repair damaged body tissues, make up for the muscle loss that occurred while the infection lasted, and boost the immune system too. Protein is also one of the best sources of energy out there and eating enough of it can help you overcome post-disease weakness. Mishra recommends including a portion of protein-rich foods, like pulses, legumes, peanuts, milk, yoghurt, cheese, soy, eggs, fish and chicken, in each meal. Your overall intake of protein should be between 75-100grams per day.

2. Choose nutrient-dense foods

Having COVID-19, or any other infection for that matter means that your immune system has taken quite the beating. Replenishing the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs is, therefore, an integral part of your recovery diet. Include plenty of fresh and seasonal fruits and veggies, as well as nuts and seeds in your diet, and have five to seven servings of them every day. While this can provide for your requirement of most vitamins, minerals, polyphenolic compounds and phytochemicals, you’ll also need to get 15-20 minutes of sunlight every day for vitamin D.

3. Don’t neglect calories

Sure, a low-cal diet is great for when you’re trying to lose weight, but you want the exact opposite after suffering from COVID-19 infection. More calories mean more energy to fight off the infection and the ability to recover faster. So include calorie-dense foods in your diet but make sure they’re healthy carbs and not empty ones. Opt for whole grains, potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, milk, avocados, jaggery and roasted chana.

4. Stay hydrated

Your body would have lost a lot of fluids due to the infection and fever, so you should get plenty of them to speed up your recovery. Drink eight to ten glasses of water every day and include soups, broths, herbal teas, kadha, non-caffeinated drinks, etc. in your diet.

5. Stay safe

COVID-19 can affect your sense of taste and smell, and that can put you off food. Getting over the infection may also give you a sense of security and you might feel like getting a taste of foods from your favourite joints. However, your safety and recovery should be your only priority now, so stick with fresh, simple, home-cooked meals which are prepared in sanitary conditions.

For more information, read our article on Diet for COVID-19 patients.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.Recovery Guidelines for COVID-19 patients.

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID

  • August 5, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives around the world, much research has focused on the immune system’s role in patients who become seriously ill. A popular theory has it that the immune system gets so revved up fighting the virus that, after several days, it produces a so-called cytokine storm that results in potentially fatal organ damage, particularly to the lungs.

But new findings from a team of researchers led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis point to another theory and suggest that patients become ill because their immune systems can’t do enough to protect them from the virus, landing them in intensive care units. They suggest that boosting immunity could be a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19.

Such a strategy has been proposed in two recently published papers, one published online in JAMA Network Open and the other published online in the journal JCI Insight.

“People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things,” said senior investigator Richard S. Hotchkiss, MD, professor of anesthesiology, of medicine and of surgery. “Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”

The Washington University researchers have been investigating a similar approach in treating sepsis, a potentially fatal condition that also involves patients who simultaneously seem to have overactive and weakened immune systems.

Hotchkiss points to autopsy studies performed by other groups showing large amounts of coronavirus present in the organs of people who died from COVID-19, suggesting that their immune systems were not working well enough to fight the virus. His colleague, Kenneth E. Remy, MD, the JCI Insight study’s first author, compares efforts to inhibit the immune system to fixing a flat tire by letting more air out.

“But when we actually looked closely at these patients, we found that their tires, so to speak, were underinflated or immune-suppressed,” said Remy, assistant professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of anesthesiology at Washington University. “To go and poke holes in them with anti-inflammatory drugs because you think they are hyperinflated or hyperinflamed will only make the suppression and the disease worse.”

After gathering blood samples from 20 COVID-19 patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, the researchers employed a test to measure the activity of immune cells in the blood. They compared the blood of those patients to 26 hospitalized sepsis patients and 18 others who were very sick but had neither sepsis nor COVID-19.

They found that the COVID-19 patients often had far fewer circulating immune cells than is typical. Further, the immune cells that were present did not secrete normal levels of cytokines – the molecules many have proposed as a cause of organ damage and death in COVID-19 patients.

Instead of trying to fight the infection by further interfering with the production of cytokines, they tried a strategy that has been successful in previous studies they have conducted in sepsis patients.

Hotchkiss and Remy collaborated with researchers in a small study conducted in seriously ill COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized in Belgium. In that study, which was reported on in the JAMA Network Open paper, the COVID-19 patients were treated with a substance called interleukin-7 (IL-7), a cytokine that is required for the healthy development of immune cells.

In those patients, the researchers found that IL-7 helped restore balance to the immune system by increasing the number of immune cells and helping those cells make more cytokines to fight infection.

The research did not demonstrate, however, that treatment with IL-7 improved mortality in COVID-19 patients.

“This was a compassionate trial and not a randomized, controlled trial of IL-7,” Remy explained. “We were attempting to learn whether we could get these immune cells working again – and we could – as well as whether we could do it without causing harmful effects in these very sick patients – and there were none. As this was an observational study involving a small number of patients who already were on ventilators, it wasn’t really designed to evaluate IL-7’s impact on mortality.”

Studies focused on boosting immunity and improving outcomes among the sickest COVID-19 patients are just getting underway in Europe, and similar trials are starting in the U.S., including at Washington University.

Hotchkiss said that finding ways to boost the immune response should help not only in COVID-19 patients but when the next pandemic arises.

“We should have been geared up and more ready when this pathogen appeared,” he said. “But what Ken and I and our colleagues are working on now is finding ways to boost the immune system that may help people during future pandemics. We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens that may be unleashed in the future.”

Boosting immunity could be a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19

Boosting immunity could be a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19

  • August 5, 2020

Our immune system gets so active in fighting coronavirus that after several days, it produces a so-called cytokine storm that results in potentially fatal organ damage, particularly to the lungs.

A new study by the scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that patients become ill because their immune systems can’t do enough to protect them from the virus, sending patients in intensive care units. So, boosting the immune system is the only potential treatment strategy for COVID-19.

Senior investigator Richard S. Hotchkiss, MD, professor of anesthesiology, medicine, and surgery, said, “People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things. Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”

Scientists are investigating a similar approach to treating sepsis.

Scientists focused on autopsy studies performed by other groups showing large amounts of coronavirus present in the organs of people who died from COVID-19, suggesting that their immune systems were not working well enough to fight the virus. They then compared efforts to inhibit the immune system from fixing a flat tire by letting more air out.

Kenneth E. Remy, MD, the JCI Insight study’s first author, said, “But when we looked closely at these patients, we found that their tires, so to speak, were underinflated or immune-suppressed. To go and poke holes in them with anti-inflammatory drugs because you think they are hyperinflated or hyperinflated will only make the suppression and the disease worse.”

For the study, scientists collected blood samples from 20 COVID-19 patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis. They then employed a test to measure the activity of immune cells in the blood. They compared the blood of those patients to 26 hospitalized sepsis patients and 18 others who were very sick but had neither sepsis nor COVID-19.

They found that the COVID-19 patients frequently had far less circulating immune cells than is typical. Further, the immune cells that were present didn’t secrete normal levels of cytokines — the molecules many have proposed as a reason for organ damage and death in COVID-19 patients.

Instead of trying to fight the infection by further interfering with the production of cytokines, they tried a strategy that has been successful in previous studies they have conducted in sepsis patients.

Hotchkiss and Remy collaborated with researchers in a small study conducted in seriously ill COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized in Belgium. In that study, the COVID-19 patients were treated with a substance called interleukin-7 (IL-7), a cytokine that is required for the healthy development of immune cells.

The study found that IL-7 helped restore balance to the immune system by increasing the number of immune cells and helping those cells make more cytokines to fight infection.

Remy said, “This was a compassionate trial and not a randomized, controlled trial of IL-7. We were attempting to learn whether we could get these immune cells working again — and we could — as well as whether we could do it without causing harmful effects in these very sick patients — and there were none. As this was an observational study involving a small number of patients who already were on ventilators, it wasn’t designed to evaluate IL-7’s impact on mortality.”

Studies focused on boosting immunity and improving outcomes among the sickest COVID-19 patients are just getting underway in Europe, and similar trials are starting in the U.S., including at Washington University.

Hotchkiss said that finding ways to boost the immune response should help not only in COVID-19 patients, but when the next pandemic arises.”

“We should have been geared up and more ready when this pathogen appeared. But what Ken and I and our colleagues are working on now is finding ways to boost the immune system that may help people during future pandemics. We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens that may be unleashed in the future.”

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19 | The Source

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19 | The Source

  • August 4, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives around the world, much research has focused on the immune system’s role in patients who become seriously ill. A popular theory has it that the immune system gets so revved up fighting the virus that, after several days, it produces a so-called cytokine storm that results in potentially fatal organ damage, particularly to the lungs.

But new findings from a team of researchers led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis point to another theory and suggest that patients become ill because their immune systems can’t do enough to protect them from the virus, landing them in intensive care units. They suggest that boosting immunity could be a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19.

Such a strategy has been proposed in two recently published papers, one published online in JAMA Network Open and the other published online in the journal JCI Insight.

“People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things,” said senior investigator Richard S. Hotchkiss, MD, professor of anesthesiology, of medicine and of surgery. “Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”

The Washington University researchers have been investigating a similar approach in treating sepsis, a potentially fatal condition that also involves patients who simultaneously seem to have overactive and weakened immune systems.

Hotchkiss points to autopsy studies performed by other groups showing large amounts of coronavirus present in the organs of people who died from COVID-19, suggesting that their immune systems were not working well enough to fight the virus. His colleague, Kenneth E. Remy, MD, the JCI Insight study’s first author, compares efforts to inhibit the immune system to fixing a flat tire by letting more air out.

“But when we actually looked closely at these patients, we found that their tires, so to speak, were underinflated or immune-suppressed,” said Remy, assistant professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of anesthesiology at Washington University. “To go and poke holes in them with anti-inflammatory drugs because you think they are hyperinflated or hyperinflamed will only make the suppression and the disease worse.”

After gathering blood samples from 20 COVID-19 patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, the researchers employed a test to measure the activity of immune cells in the blood. They compared the blood of those patients to 26 hospitalized sepsis patients and 18 others who were very sick but had neither sepsis nor COVID-19.

They found that the COVID-19 patients often had far fewer circulating immune cells than is typical. Further, the immune cells that were present did not secrete normal levels of cytokines — the molecules many have proposed as a cause of organ damage and death in COVID-19 patients.

Instead of trying to fight the infection by further interfering with the production of cytokines, they tried a strategy that has been successful in previous studies they have conducted in sepsis patients.

Hotchkiss and Remy collaborated with researchers in a small study conducted in seriously ill COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized in Belgium. In that study, which was reported on in the JAMA Network Open paper, the COVID-19 patients were treated with a substance called interleukin-7 (IL-7), a cytokine that is required for the healthy development of immune cells.

In those patients, the researchers found that IL-7 helped restore balance to the immune system by increasing the number of immune cells and helping those cells make more cytokines to fight infection.

The research did not demonstrate, however, that treatment with IL-7 improved mortality in COVID-19 patients.

“This was a compassionate trial and not a randomized, controlled trial of IL-7,” Remy explained. “We were attempting to learn whether we could get these immune cells working again — and we could — as well as whether we could do it without causing harmful effects in these very sick patients — and there were none. As this was an observational study involving a small number of patients who already were on ventilators, it wasn’t really designed to evaluate IL-7’s impact on mortality.”

Studies focused on boosting immunity and improving outcomes among the sickest COVID-19 patients are just getting underway in Europe, and similar trials are starting in the U.S., including at Washington University.

Hotchkiss said that finding ways to boost the immune response should help not only in COVID-19 patients but when the next pandemic arises.

“We should have been geared up and more ready when this pathogen appeared,” he said. “But what Ken and I and our colleagues are working on now is finding ways to boost the immune system that may help people during future pandemics. We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens that may be unleashed in the future.”


Remy KE, Mazer M, Striker DA, Ellebedy AH, Walton AH, Unsinger J, Blood TM, Mudd PA, Yi DJ, Mannion DA, Osborne DF, Martin RS, Anand NJ, Bosanquet JP, Blood J, Drewry AM, Caldwell CC, Turnbull IR, Brakenridge SC, Moldwawer LL, Hotchkiss RS. Severe immunosuppression and not a cytokine storm characterize COVID-19 infections. JCI insight, July 20, 2020.
Laterre PF, Francois B, Collienne C, Hantson P, Jeannet R, Remy KE, Hotchkiss, RS. Association of interleukin 7 immunotherapy with lymphocyte counts among patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19). JAMA Network Open, July 22, 2020.
This work was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Grant numbers GM 129763., GM 126928, GM 008721, GM 133756, GM 111153, AG056444, AI 139813, and CTSA-WUSTL KL2 TR002346 and CTSA-UF-FSU UL1 TR001427. RevImmune provided recombinant human interleukin 7 that was used in the studies.
Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Originally published by the School of Medicine

WashU Response to COVID-19
Visit coronavirus.wustl.edu for the latest information about WashU updates and policies. See all stories related to COVID-19.

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19 – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19 – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

  • August 4, 2020

Visit the News Hub

Researchers find weakened, rather than hyperactive, immunity in response to virus

Matt Miller

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives around the world, much research has focused on the immune system’s role in patients who become seriously ill. A popular theory has it that the immune system gets so revved up fighting the virus that, after several days, it produces a so-called cytokine storm that results in potentially fatal organ damage, particularly to the lungs.

But new findings from a team of researchers led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis point to another theory and suggest that patients become ill because their immune systems can’t do enough to protect them from the virus, landing them in intensive care units. They suggest that boosting immunity could be a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19.

Such a strategy has been proposed in two recently published papers, one published online in JAMA Network Open and the other published online in the journal JCI Insight.

“People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things,” said senior investigator Richard S. Hotchkiss, MD, a professor of anesthesiology, of medicine and of surgery. “Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”

The Washington University researchers have been investigating a similar approach in treating sepsis, a potentially fatal condition that also involves patients who simultaneously seem to have overactive and weakened immune systems.

Hotchkiss points to autopsy studies performed by other groups showing large amounts of coronavirus present in the organs of people who died from COVID-19, suggesting that their immune systems were not working well enough to fight the virus. His colleague, Kenneth E. Remy, MD, the JCI Insight study’s first author, compares efforts to inhibit the immune system to fixing a flat tire by letting more air out.

“But when we actually looked closely at these patients, we found that their tires, so to speak, were underinflated or immune-suppressed,” said Remy, an assistant professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of anesthesiology at Washington University. “To go and poke holes in them with anti-inflammatory drugs because you think they are hyperinflated or hyperinflamed will only make the suppression and the disease worse.”

After gathering blood samples from 20 COVID-19 patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, the researchers employed a test to measure the activity of immune cells in the blood. They compared the blood of those patients to 26 hospitalized sepsis patients and 18 others who were very sick but had neither sepsis nor COVID-19.

They found that the COVID-19 patients often had far fewer circulating immune cells than is typical. Further, the immune cells that were present did not secrete normal levels of cytokines — the molecules many have proposed as a cause of organ damage and death in COVID-19 patients.

Instead of trying to fight the infection by further interfering with the production of cytokines, they tried a strategy that has been successful in previous studies they have conducted in sepsis patients.

Hotchkiss and Remy collaborated with researchers in a small study conducted in seriously ill COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized in Belgium. In that study, which was reported on in the JAMA Network Open paper, the COVID-19 patients were treated with a substance called interleukin-7 (IL-7), a cytokine that is required for the healthy development of immune cells.

In those patients, the researchers found that IL-7 helped restore balance to the immune system by increasing the number of immune cells and helping those cells make more cytokines to fight infection.

The research did not demonstrate, however, that treatment with IL-7 improved mortality in COVID-19 patients.

“This was a compassionate trial and not a randomized, controlled trial of IL-7,” Remy explained. “We were attempting to learn whether we could get these immune cells working again — and we could — as well as whether we could do it without causing harmful effects in these very sick patients — and there were none. As this was an observational study involving a small number of patients who already were on ventilators, it wasn’t really designed to evaluate IL-7’s impact on mortality.”

Studies focused on boosting immunity and improving outcomes among the sickest COVID-19 patients are just getting underway in Europe, and similar trials are starting in the U.S., including at Washington University.

Hotchkiss said that finding ways to boost the immune response should help not only in COVID-19 patients but when the next pandemic arises.

“We should have been geared up and more ready when this pathogen appeared,” he said. “But what Ken and I and our colleagues are working on now is finding ways to boost the immune system that may help people during future pandemics. We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens that may be unleashed in the future.”

Remy KE, Mazer M, Striker DA, Ellebedy AH, Walton AH, Unsinger J, Blood TM, Mudd PA, Yi DJ, Mannion DA, Osborne DF, Martin RS, Anand NJ, Bosanquet JP, Blood J, Drewry AM, Caldwell CC, Turnbull IR, Brakenridge SC, Moldwawer LL, Hotchkiss RS. Severe immunosuppression and not a cytokine storm characterize COVID-19 infections. JCI insight, July 20, 2020.

Laterre PF, Francois B, Collienne C, Hantson P, Jeannet R, Remy KE, Hotchkiss, RS. Association of interleukin 7 immunotherapy with lymphocyte counts among patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19). JAMA Network Open, July 22, 2020.

This work was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Grant numbers GM 129763., GM 126928, GM 008721, GM 133756, GM 111153, AG056444, AI 139813, and CTSA-WUSTL KL2 TR002346 and CTSA-UF-FSU UL1 TR001427. RevImmune provided recombinant human interleukin 7 that was used in the studies.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.




Is immune boosting a myth or reality?

Is immune boosting a myth or reality?

  • July 31, 2020

With the outbreak of the corona pandemic, immune boosting has become a popular concept.

Recently, a 35-year-old male approached the hospital, complaining of inability to eat, and breathlessness. On evaluation, he was found to have a combination of severe liver and kidney failure. While his medical history was being studied, he admitted to preparing his own concoction of herbs and powders and consuming it, to prevent corona infection. A similar episode relating to a manufacturer of Ayurveda preparations was reported two months ago; he had consumed a remedy apparently to fight corona but succumbed to it.

Vitamins, probiotics, anti-oxidants, alternate medicines and food supplements are all marketed as immune boosters. The estimated global market in 2019 was around $133 billion. Products have been widely promoted on the internet through blogs, health news and commercial advertisements. And now it must have jumped manifold. What is the evidence of their benefit?

According to the Harvard Medical School, there is no scientific meaning to the word immune boosting. Basically there are three components to immunity or fighting of an infection: The first is through the intact skin, airway lining or the mucous membrane. The second is the innate immunity in the form of chemicals and white cells, and the third is the production of antibodies and lymphocytes. The most accepted and proven way of inducing immunity against a specific infection is vaccination. Vitamins and other nutrients help only when there is a deficiency.

Pitfalls aplenty

What is the danger of immunity-boosting supplements?

They could result in your dropping guard against the virus — in terms of being lax with the face mask, hand-washing and social distancing, which are more helpful in protecting one from catching the bug.

Such supplements give a false sense of security. This was shown scientifically in the case of influenza. In Australia, some people following naturopathy avoided the vaccine, leading to dire consequences. It has happened in the US also for other preventable diseases. Secondly, the side effects of some of them, at least in high doses, include making one sick. Many supplements have not been analysed routinely.

The FDA has warned about the presence of heavy metals in some of the herbal preparations and periodically bans them. Chinese regulatory authorities too have come down on some preparations sold in China for boosting immunity against the coronavirus. And finally, you can use the money you spend on them for something you enjoy. According to Yale university, immune boosting is a bit of a racket without scientific justification.

In India, traditionally we believe in strengthening the immune system. The ministry of Ayush has issued guidelines with special reference to coronavirus in various systems, including Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy, Siddha, Yoga, etc. The ministry has also warned against claiming any cure for the coronavirus. The food safety organisation FSSAI regulates supplements and food products but does not question the claims of immune boosting.

The single most important cause behind catching the virus is exposure to it and the viral load. It is best prevented by physical distancing, hand-washing and wearing of masks.

General health determines the outcome in all diseases. Why some apparently healthy people succumb to corona is not known. The over-reaction of the immune system with release of cytokines and clotting produces death. It is a paradox that a drug like dexamethasone, which quietens the immune system, has reduced deaths in corona.

So, what is the final answer? A healthy lifestyle, balanced food with special attention to vegetables and fruits, ideal body weight, adequate sleep, minimising stress and lastly moderation in alcohol and avoiding smoking is the gold standard to follow.

The writer is Director, Department of Nephrology, MIOT Hospital, Chennai. Views are personal

Weight Loss: These Metabolism Boosting Teas Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight

These Metabolism Boosting Teas Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight

  • July 31, 2020

Better metabolism can result in effective weight loss. Several diet and lifestyle changes can help boost metabolism. Here are some teas you must try.


Weight Loss: These Metabolism Boosting Teas Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight

A well balanced diet can help in maintaining a healthy weight

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Boost your metabolism for effective weight loss
  2. Optimum protein intake can boost metabolism
  3. High intensity can also help you improve metabolism

Metabolism plays an important role in weight management. It is a process by which your body converts the foods and drinks consumed into energy. Several factors can affect your metabolism. These may vary from diet to lifestyle. The better the metabolism the better is weight loss. When it comes to drinks, tea is one of the most common options to choose from. Many love to drink tea and are addicted to their daily cup. Here’s a good news for all the tea lovers who are trying to lose weight. Several teas can help boost metabolism which can contribute to better weight management. Here are some teas you can try to boost your metabolism. Also, know other health benefits these can offer.

Weight loss: Teas that can help boost metabolism

1. Green tea

Green tea is loaded with several health benefits. It is commonly consumed for weight loss. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants. It also helps in boosting metabolism resulting in improved weight loss.

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Drinking green tea can help in weight loss

Photo Credit: iStock

2. Ginger tea

Ginger is a commonly used ingredient. It is commonly added to teas to enhance the taste. Ginger also offers immunity-boosting properties. Sipping ginger tea boosts metabolism and also helps in preventing sore throat.

Also read: 6 Ways How Starting Your Day With Ginger Can Help You

3. Oolong tea

Oolong tea is beneficial for your heart. Studies also suggest that oolong tea can also help reduce the risk of diabetes and improves brain function. This tea is also helpful in weight loss as it improves metabolism.

Also read: Weight Loss And Other Amazing Benefits Of Oolong Tea You Cannot Miss

4. Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea has a refreshing tea. Drinking this tea also helps ensure better sleep. It is also beneficial for your immune system. This tea is also beneficial for digestion. You can give a boost to your weight loss journey with this minty tea.

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Several herbal teas can help boost metabolism that support the weight loss process

Photo Credit: iStock

5. Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea may also help promote weight loss and boost metabolism. It can also help in improving cholesterol levels. If you have any pre-existing conditions consult an expert before adding it to your diet.

Also read: Try These Teas For Effective Weight Loss

Promoted

Do not overdose with these teas. You can consult your dietician to know the perfect fit in your diet. Also, discuss if you have any medical condition.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.





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