PepsiCos Propel Immune System contains zinc and vitamin C

PepsiCo taps into COVID trends with Propel Immune Support launch – just-drinks comment | Beverage Industry News

  • October 20, 2020

PepsiCo has launched an extension of its Propel bottled water brand in the US that claims to boost immune systems. 

PepsiCos Propel Immune System contains zinc and vitamin C

PepsiCo’s Propel Immune System contains zinc and vitamin C

The zero-sugar Propel Immune Support contains a range of vitamins as well as zinc to “support a healthy immune system”, PepsiCo said this week. According to the company, the new launch comes at a time when “consumers are seeking products with functional ingredients”.

The group claims the beverage contains a 100% recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 30% of the recommended daily dose of zinc.

Propel Immune Support comes in two flavours – Orange Raspberry and Lemon Blackberry – and contains five calories per bottle. Variety packs will be available on Amazon from this month and from retailers next month in the US. Single-serve bottles will roll out nationwide early next year with an SRP of US$1.49 per 20oz (59.1cl) bottle. 

The launch follows a roll out in April of Propel Vitamin Boost, which contains 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and C.

A number of US drinks brand owners have launched immunity-boosting products in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Advertising restrictions limit companies on what health claims they can make on behalf of their products, but many of the recent launches contain zinc, which is believed to help immune systems function.

In May, Talking Rain, the owner of the Sparkling Ice brand, launched the “immunity-boosting” Talking Rain Essentials. Ingredients include zinc, calcium, magnesium and a range of vitamins.

just-drinks thinks…

As the coronavirus buffets beverage producers’ financial results, innovation teams are scrambling to launch products targeting the COVID-era consumer. First out of the gate is a wave of soft drinks packed with combinations of vitamins, zinc, magnesium or other functional ingredients linked to immunity-support. 

These drinks are among the first to specifically target consumers’ post-coronavirus needs mainly because they are a simple retooling of previous functional soft drinks but with added immunity-boosting sheen. For example, in terms of ingredients, Propel Immune Support is not so different to PepsiCo’s Propel Vitamin Boost, launched in April, but its branding rings much clearer in a consumer marketplace where the health & wellness trend has taken on a more profound meaning.

“These drinks are a much-needed reaction from the soft drinks industry to the world’s new circumstances. Their health-giving properties may also give a timely boost to those under-pressure sales figures.”

Why bottled water should tap into more drinking occasions – Click here for a just-drinks comment


PepsiCos Propel Immune System contains zinc and vitamin C

PepsiCo taps into COVID trends with Propel Immune Support launch | Beverage Industry News

  • October 20, 2020

PepsiCo has launched an extension of its Propel bottled water brand in the US that claims to boost immune systems. 

PepsiCos Propel Immune System contains zinc and vitamin C

PepsiCo’s Propel Immune System contains zinc and vitamin C

The zero-sugar Propel Immune Support contains a range of vitamins as well as zinc to “support a healthy immune system”, PepsiCo said this week. According to the company, the new launch comes at a time when “consumers are seeking products with functional ingredients”.

The group claims the beverage contains a 100% recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 30% of the recommended daily dose of zinc.

Propel Immune Support comes in two flavours – Orange Raspberry and Lemon Blackberry – and contains five calories per bottle. Variety packs will be available on Amazon from this month and from retailers next month in the US. Single-serve bottles will roll out nationwide early next year with an SRP of US$1.49 per 20oz (59.1cl) bottle. 

The launch follows a roll out in April of Propel Vitamin Boost, which contains 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and C.

A number of US drinks brand owners have launched immunity-boosting products in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Advertising restrictions limit companies on what health claims they can make on behalf of their products, but many of the recent launches contain zinc, which is believed to help immune systems function.

In May, Talking Rain, the owner of the Sparkling Ice brand, launched the “immunity-boosting” Talking Rain Essentials. Ingredients include zinc, calcium, magnesium and a range of vitamins.

Why bottled water should tap into more drinking occasions – Click here for a just-drinks comment


Why do diabetes and heart disease boost Covid risk?

Why do diabetes and heart disease boost Covid risk?

  • October 19, 2020

A pioneering study starting this month in Chicago aims to discover why some diabetes sufferers are more severely affected by Covid-19 than others. Meanwhile, a team in India is comparing the impact of Covid-19 on patients with and without diabetes. 

Individuals with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular conditions, cancers and chronic respiratory ailments, as well as diabetes, are more susceptible to coronavirus. Patients with these so-called co-morbidities have a much higher rate of hospitalisation, and are more likely to die.

NCDs are already the world’s biggest health problem, accounting for 71 per cent of deaths globally, and Covid-19 is likely to push the mortality rate up
further. In Italy in May, 67 per cent of people dying in hospital from the virus had hypertension, while in Spain, 43 per cent of people who died from it had heart disease. 

Bente Mikkelsen, director of NCDs at the World Health Organization, says: “What we have seen is that there is a deadly interplay between Covid-19 and NCDs.” In a September report, the WHO highlights the problem and calls for governments to include the treatment of NCDs in their national Covid-19 plans.

Prof Rachel Nugent
Prof Rachel Nugent is studying the effects of Covid-19 on diabetes patients

Diabetes is one of the most lethal co-morbidities. The Chicago study, which aims to look both at the US and at a developing country, will monitor the health of diabetes patients who contract Covid-19 over the next year, says Rachel Nugent, leader of the project.

“For some people, recovery is quick, while for others it takes a long time, or they die,” says Prof Nugent, who is vice-president and director of the Center for Global NCDs at RTI International, a non-profit organisation. 

“For those with an NCD, it may be that Covid-19 is worsening their condition or bringing on a whole new batch of NCDs. We don’t yet know,” Prof Nugent says.

The study will look at factors such as diet, age, other health conditions, and, if possible, socio-economic status. “We are hoping to [be able to] recommend more targeted treatment based on patient differences,” says Prof Nugent.

Studies show a causal link between co-morbidities and the severity of Covid-19, not just a correspondence, says Sanjay Kumar Bhadada, professor of endocrinology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. “Patients with diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] have underlying immunodeficiency, which may make them more susceptible to Covid-19 complications,” he says. 

In diabetes patients, Prof Bhadada explains, the immune system gets overstimulated, which leads to overproduction of cytokines, proteins that normally help fight infection but which at high levels can damage the body.

COPD, on the other hand, could exacerbate coronavirus by suppressing the immune system and restricting production of a particular cytokine that helps defend against it. 

In the case of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, the link may lie in the drugs often used to treat them, which increase production of a protein that is used by coronavirus to enter the lung cells.

People with NCDs are likely to be older, Prof Bhadada says. “But we now have data supporting the fact that co-morbidities are associated with an increased risk of poor prognosis with Covid-19 even after adjustment for age.” 

His team is conducting a study comparing Covid-19 patients with and without diabetes to gain more insights into the cytokine connection. 

A diabetic person injects insulin. Diabetes is one of the most lethal co-morbidities for Covid-19 © Alex Flynn/Bloomberg

The WHO’s Dr Mikkelsen points out that coronavirus has severely disrupted health services. This has led to delays in diagnosis and an increase in damaging habits such as excessive consumption of alcohol, and physical inactivity. 

Trevor Sheldon, professor of health services research at Queen Mary University of London, adds that social and economic risk factors link contagious illnesses to NCDs. These include insecure employment, income inequality, poor education, inadequate housing, and obesity, with age and ethnicity also playing a part. 

The WHO reports that 53 per cent of 163 countries it has surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for hypertension, 49 per cent for diabetes, 42 per cent for cancer treatment and 31 per cent for vascular emergencies. Almost two-thirds of countries have disrupted rehabilitation services. 

“It’s like an X-ray disclosing how we have failed to meet the needs of people living with NCDs,” Dr Mikkelsen says. “It is a wake-up call, because we cannot defeat Covid-19 without focusing on prevention and treatment of NCDs.”

As Prof Sheldon remarks: “This could make any gains against the virus a Pyrrhic victory.” 

Ways to improve your immunity against Coronavirus

Ways to improve your immunity against Coronavirus

  • October 16, 2020
While the country is grappling with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been shown through research that the process of combating the ill effects of the disease goes much beyond clinical support. An individual’s immunity and ability to tackle a health hazard is directly proportional to his/her immunity and nutritional status.

Our immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues and organs that band together to defend your body against foreign invaders – like germs, viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune system protects us by creating a barrier that stops those invaders from entering our body. Hence with the advent of COVID-19, the role of a healthy immune system plays the role of a savior. Nutrition, choice of foods and lifestyle is decisive to an excellent health at all stages of life.

There can be ways to work on improving your immunity at home by inculcating the following practices in our lifestyle.

1. Eat right from the start:

Healthy and balanced nutrition should be inculcated from childhood. Once your child is 12 months old, they’ll be eating more of the foods that adults eat. Eating a healthy diet sets a good example for your children. It’s important for children and adults alike to limit foods that are high in sodium, unhealthy fats and added sugars.

When you are planning your meal for the whole family, try to add all types of food groups in your food plate, such as carbohydrates, add whole wheat or mixed grain chapati or hand-pounded rice. For protein, calcium add milk, curd, paneer, pulses, legumes, egg, chicken, fish. For healthy fats add olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, almond, walnut etc. For vitamins, minerals and antioxidants add colourful fruits and vegetables and also add prebiotic foods like yogurt and probiotic milk. Hydration is also paramount in the healthy working of the body. This type of diet can fulfil all the nutritional requirements of your body without any supplementation.

2. Rainbow food palette:

Foods have phytochemicals present in them that determine their colour. These are nothing but antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that provide nutrition to your body and help build immunity. Every natural colour given by nature to fruits and vegetables possesses special phyto nutrients that are specific to that colour. Hence, including foods from various colour families to your meals will ensure no important nutrient is missed out from your diet. Following a rainbow diet is easy as you can find many food alternatives in a colour family and it does not involve following unrealistic diet trends. Not only do the colours provide special nutrients but the vibrancy of the palette is also a mood booster!

Include foods from families of red, blue, green, yellow, orange and white in your diet to increase immunity.

4. Mindful eating:

Inadequate nutrition has been linked to lower resilience for fighting diseases and being an easy target for infections and viruses. Nutrients contribute to our overall health. Their intake in sufficient and right amounts is paramount to the well-being of the mind and body. However, getting engrossed in your screens while having meals can be a disaster, despite the nutrients you are having in your meals as you are unaware of the quantity intake. This habit leads to overeating. To curb this, one needs to be vigilant and peaceful while eating and not indulge in any activity during that time. Believe and follow “Mindful Eating”- enjoy the taste of food, restrict the portions and chew well for good gut health and proper absorption of nutrients. Avoid watching digital screens or reading while eating meals. It helps is coping with physical or mental stress during tough times and is especially necessary at this crucial time.

4. Plant-based eating:

Plant based eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Following this, you avoid food which is high in calorie, simple carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and high levels of sodium that can give you obesity and other health-related issues.

● Try to avoid table salt, replace it with lemon or herbs.

● Avoid packaged and processed food and snacks such as chips, namkeen, biscuits, rusk, burger, pizza. Try to take home-cooked snacks such as homemade roasted chana or roasted foxnut

● Avoid fizzy and carbonated drinks and replace them with nimbu pani, jaljeera, salted buttermilk.

We should remember that one of the most effective ways to combat viral infections, including COVID-19, lies in the optimal combination of diet and immunity. We should all contribute our bit to the ecosystem to uplift the health condition of the community as a whole.

Inputs by Vandana Luthra, Founder and Co-Chairperson, VLCC Group

Video: How you boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Video: How you boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

  • October 15, 2020

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down as well as up. And there are some simple ways to turn back the clock on your immune system.

One study in older adults showed that those who got 10,000 steps a day on average had neutrophils as good as a young adult.

Exercise also has benefits for your T cells. Before they are released onto active duty, T-cells mature in a little-known organ called the thymus gland in your chest. The thymus degenerates over time, resulting in a drop-off in the number of T cells.

Physical activity has a huge effect on the rate of this degeneration. A study found that amateur cyclists aged between 55 and 79 had youthful thymus glands and their T-cell counts were similar to those of much younger people.

Another key factor in your immune age is your gut bacteria. There is good evidence that poor gut health is a cause of premature ageing and that a healthy microbiome can reduce your immune age. Eating a healthy, varied diet rich in fibre, plant matter and fermented foods can help maintain a healthy community of gut microbes.

Your body has a highly evolved, intricate defence system that’s effective at keeping you well, but only if you look after it.

Read the original post

Tips from leading nutritionist Barbara Cox to ward off covid

Tips from leading nutritionist Barbara Cox to ward off covid

  • October 14, 2020

If you’re healthy you’ve got a sporting chance at business and at life. Entrepreneur of the Year winner 2008, Barbara Cox merges the worlds of business and nutrition and takes ten minutes to dispense some vital knowledge to Business Matters readers.

No stranger to the business world, the chances are high that you’ve already enjoyed some of her products without even knowing it. She designed and launched the first flapjack protein bar which was snapped up by Selfridges before launching her nutritional meal delivery service nationwide. Both of these set the trend for the following fifteen years of easy protein fixes and subscription based businesses.

Today she works as a nutrition consultant and wellness coach as well as sitting on many lifestyle advisory boards across the UK and Europe. After discussing how important the need is for business owners everywhere to boost their immune system to maintain control of their health and business, she shared the following insights, all designed for Business Matters reader’s to be easily implemented and help to guard against winter colds and covid.

After studying the research, Barbara has compiled her top 5 tips that you can action right now, to boost your immune system. Since 2004, Barbara’s ethos has been to ‘protect & correct’ so make sure you have a Covid19 strategy ready for protecting against the virus and the right things on hand in case you catch it …

Drink plenty of water, the right kind of water

You’ve probably heard it before: we’re composed of 70 to 80% water – it’s true! As well as being the main component of blood and other body fluids, water plays a vital role in maintaining correct body temperature and flushing toxins out of the body. You should aim to drink at least two litres a day.

She advises that you be choosy with your quality of water and be careful of water filters that can cause more issues than prevent them. For example, the Brita water filter pitcher uses an activated carbon filter that removes chlorine, zinc, copper, cadmium and mercury, however, it doesn’t remove all nitrates, dissolved minerals or bacteria or viruses in water. These pass freely through the filter.

After researching it thoroughly she recommends the best, safest and most cost-effective water filtration bottle called Puritii that the Armed Forces are currently using.

Eat plenty of fruit and veg

Fruit and vegetables are simply the best kinds of food for us. They provide a variety of essential minerals and vitamins and fruit and vegetables contain pigments such as carotenes and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that provide significant protection that can support the respiratory system which is attacked by the virus and naturally boost our immune system and helping the recovery process after illness too.

Aim to incorporate these 10 super immune boosting foods in your diet weekly:

Shiitake Mushrooms

Blueberries

Mango

Curcuma Root (fresh turmeric)

Goji Berries

Blackberries

Kelp

Pomegranate

Green Tea

Pear

She recommends meal planning to make sure you’re getting a huge variety of food in your weekly meals.

Consume fish and fish oils

As well as providing us with nucleic acids needed for cells to thrive, fish naturally provides oils which neutralise harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that rip parts off healthy molecules – such as DNA – often leading to reduced immune system and leading to disease.)

Great choices of oily fish are wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and trout. Vegetarian sources are walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.

Try aromatherapy

There is growing concern that topical use of chemicals in our personal care products can make their way into our blood stream and cause allergies and reactions leading to an impaired immune system. I personal try to use non-toxic alternatives where possible.

I adore aromatherapy to naturally enhance my immune system, freshen and disinfect my home and build a natural defence barrier as a natural hand-wipe and to inhale when travelling on public transport, planes, visiting hospitals or crowded shopping areas.

Get your sunshine vitamin

In normal circumstances, sunshine, not food, is where most of your vitamin D comes from. So even a healthy, well-balanced diet, that provides all the other vitamins and nutrients you need, is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D if you aren’t able to get enough sun. People with vitamin D deficiency may need supplements. A review of 25 studies found vitamin D supplements can help protect against acute respiratory infections, particularly among people who are deficient. Take a walk in the sunshine daily for at least 10 minutes to keep that vitamin D topped up, if this is not possible, then take a look at supplementation.

A note on supplements. It’s important to consult your doctor if you’re already taking other medications before trying new additions to your regime. If you get the ‘all clear’ from them, you need to ensure that you source bona fide supplements. Barbara knows the exact ones to purchase for those who need an extra boost and might not have the time to research all the best products, manufacturing certificates of those products and EU compliance. Please contact her through www.barbaracox.me In the meantime, keep building that resilience.


Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.

How anti-ageing drugs could boost COVID vaccines in older people

How anti-ageing drugs could boost COVID vaccines in older people

  • October 14, 2020
Health care nurses in PPE with the elderly residents at a retirement home in Spain.

Older adults, like these nursing-home residents in Spain, are more vulnerable to infection and can respond poorly to vaccines.Credit: David Ramos/Getty

Unlike fine wine, the human body does not improve with age. Hearing fades, skin sags, joints give out. Even the body’s immune system loses some of its vigour.

This phenomenon, known as immunosenescence, might explain why older age groups are so hard-hit by COVID-19. And there is another troubling implication: vaccines, which incite the immune system to fight off invaders, often perform poorly in older people. The best strategy for quelling the pandemic might fail in exactly the group that needs it most.

Scientists have known for decades that ageing immune systems can leave the body prone to infection and weaken their response to vaccines. In June, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that a COVID-19 vaccine would have to protect at least half the vaccinated individuals to be considered effective, but protection in older adults might not even meet that bar. “No vaccine is going to be as effective in the elderly as it is in young people,” says Matt Kaeberlein, a gerontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “That’s an almost certainty.”

The human immune system is mind-bendingly complex, and ageing affects nearly every component. Some types of immune cell become depleted: for example, older adults have fewer naive T cells that respond to new invaders, and fewer B cells, which produce antibodies that latch on to invading pathogens and target them for destruction. Older people also tend to experience chronic, low-grade inflammation, a phenomenon known as inflammageing (see ‘Depleted defences’). Although some inflammation is a key part of a healthy immune response, this constant buzz of internal activation makes the immune system less responsive to external insults. “This overarching, chronic inflammatory state is what’s driving much of the immune dysfunction that we see,” says Kaeberlein. The upshot is a poorer reaction to infections and a dulled response to vaccines, which work by priming the immune system to fight off a pathogen without actually causing disease.

Depleted defences. Graphic showing difference between young and old immune systems.

With about 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently being tested in humans, researchers say it’s not yet clear how they will fare in older adults. In its phase I study of 40 people aged 56 and over, Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reported that its candidate mRNA-1273 elicited similar antibody levels as those elicited in a younger age group1. The Chinese biotech Sinovac in Beijing, which trialled its CoronaVac candidate in a phase I/II study that included 421 adults between 60 and 89 years of age, announced in a press release on 9 September that it seems to work as well in older adults as it does in younger ones. However, a phase I study by international pharma company Pfizer and BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, showed that their vaccine BNT162b2 provokes an immune response that is about half as strong in older adults as it is in younger ones2. The older adults still produced more antibodies in response to the vaccine than people of a similar age who had had COVID-19, but it’s not known how these levels translate into protection from the virus.

Most COVID-19 vaccine trials include at least some older adults. But a recent analysis of 18 such trials found that the risk of exclusion is high3. More than half had age cut-offs and many were at risk of excluding older participants for other reasons, including underlying conditions.

If COVID-19 vaccines perform less well in older adults, researchers might be able to find ways to tweak the shot itself to elicit a stronger response. Some influenza vaccines, for instance, include immune-boosting ingredients or higher doses of the viral antigen. But some scientists say there is a better option. They are developing and testing drugs that could improve how older adults respond to vaccines and might also help them fight viruses more effectively in the first place. Rather than working with the limitations of the ageing immune system, they are planning to rejuvenate it.

Forever young

Many researchers have grown old trying to pinpoint ways to reverse the ageing process. In the past decade, however, they have made serious progress in identifying particular molecular targets that might help in this quest.

One promising class of anti-ageing drug acts on pathways involved in cell growth. These drugs inhibit a protein known as mTOR. In the laboratory, inhibiting mTOR lengthens lifespan in animals from fruit flies to mice. “mTOR is one of probably multiple biologic mechanisms that contribute to why we age and why our organ systems start to decline,” says Joan Mannick, co-founder and chief medical officer of resTORbio, a biotech company based in Boston, Massachusetts, that aims to develop anti-ageing therapies.

A volunteer is injected with a COVID-19 vaccine for a study in the United States.

A volunteer receives a vaccine as part of a study in Florida. Some vaccine trials risk including too few older adults.Caption: Marco Bello/Reuters

In a study published in 2018 and carried out when Mannick was at the Novartis Research Institutes in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she and her colleagues tried damping down mTOR in elderly adults to see if this could improve immune function and lower infection rates4. The 264 participants received a low-dose mTOR inhibitor or a placebo for six weeks. Those who received the drug had fewer infections in the year after the study and an improved response to the flu vaccine. On the basis of her work on mTOR inhibition, Mannick, by then at resTORbio, launched a phase III trial in 2019 to see if a similar mTOR inhibitor called RTB101 could stave off respiratory illnesses in older adults.

That trial failed to show the desired effect, perhaps because infections were monitored by self-report of symptoms rather than requiring a lab test to confirm infection, as in the earlier trial. That created “a lot more noise”, says Ilaria Bellantuono, co-director of the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of Sheffield, UK, who was not involved in the trial. “A much bigger group would have been required to see a difference.”

Still, the data from this and an earlier trial suggested that participants who received the mTOR inhibitor had fewer severe infections from circulating coronaviruses and recovered faster from them than the placebo group. The trials pre-date the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, but they suggest that RTB101 could lessen the severity of infection. resTORbio is now testing that idea in 550 nursing-home residents aged 65 and over.

RTB101 is similar to an already approved mTOR inhibitor, the immune-suppressing drug rapamycin. At least four other groups are testing rapamycin in small numbers of infected individuals as a possible COVID-19 therapy; one group is trialling the drug exclusively in adults aged 60 or older.

The type 2 diabetes drug metformin also dampens down mTOR’s activity, albeit indirectly. Some studies suggest that people who take metformin are less likely to be hospitalized or die if they contract COVID-19. A small retrospective study in China found that the mortality among hospitalized individuals with COVID-19 taking metformin was 2.9% compared with 12.3% in people who didn’t take the drug5. Researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis analysed data on hospitalized individuals with COVID-19 who had an average age of 75, some of whom were already taking metformin for obesity or diabetes. They found a significant reduction in mortality among women taking metformin, but not among men6.

Carolyn Bramante, an obesity researcher who led the University of Minnesota study, points out that diseases such as diabetes and obesity lead to some of the same immune deficits as occur in older age. She and her colleagues plan to launch a trial of 1,500 people aged 30 and over to determine whether metformin could help stave off SARS-CoV-2 infection or prevent the worst outcomes in people already infected.

Meanwhile, Jenna Bartley, who studies ageing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, is assessing whether metformin can boost responses to flu vaccine in a small trial of older adults. The idea, based on her work in mice, is that metformin can improve the energy metabolism of the T cells of the immune system, making them better at detecting new threats. Bartley has finished collecting data, but because her lab was shut down owing to COVID-19, she won’t have the results analysed for a few more weeks.

An elderly man holding a flower follows a worker pushing his wife in a wheelchair as she leaves intensive care.

A 95-year-old patient leaves intensive care in Bogotá, Colombia. Older adults can show lacklustre responses to infections and vaccines.Credit: Diana Sanchez/AFP via Getty

If metformin works against COVID-19, researchers will still have to tease out why. Kaeberlein points out that no one is quite sure how metformin works because it has so many targets. “It’s about the dirtiest of dirty drugs out there,” he says. It was originally used as an anti-influenza drug; Bramante says it helps tamp down inflammation. Aside from the mechanistic unknowns, the advantage is that metformin has been used for decades and is generally safe. Children can take it, as can pregnant women. “Metformin is a medication that you actually could give prophylactically for 12 months without having to do any follow-up,” Bramante says, “and it costs less than US$4 a month.”

Soothing balm

mTOR is a classic anti-ageing target, but it’s far from the only one. In fact, many anti-ageing pathways seem to be linked, says James Kirkland, who studies cellular ageing and disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “That is, if you target one, you tend to affect all the rest,” he says. Many of the immune changes that come with ageing lead to the same result: inflammation. So researchers are looking at drugs that will calm this symptom.

Arne Akbar, an immunologist at University College London, has shown that the anti-inflammatory drug losmapimod, which is being developed as a therapy for muscular dystrophy, might help boost immunity. In a 2018 study, the researchers injected chickenpox virus into the skin of elderly adults7. Although these people had already been exposed to chickenpox, their immune response was lacklustre, hampered by excess inflammation. When the team gave the study participants losmapimod, it ratcheted down inflammation by about 70% and improved their immune responses.

In June, the company currently developing losmapimod — Fulcrum Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts — launched a 400-person phase III study to investigate whether the drug could prevent death and respiratory failure in older people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Another class of drug, called senolytics, helps to purge the body of cells that have stopped dividing but won’t die. These senescent cells are typically cleared by the immune system, but as the body ages, they begin to accumulate, ramping up inflammation. In August, Kirkland and a team at the Mayo Clinic launched a 70-person trial to test whether a senolytic called fisetin, which is found in strawberries and sold as a health supplement, can curb progression of COVID-19 in adults aged 60 or older. They also plan to test whether fisetin can prevent COVID-19 infection in nursing-home residents.

“Senescence is really a key factor in ageing,” says Eric Verdin, president and chief executive of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, who is not involved in the fisetin research. No senolytics have currently been approved for clinical treatment, however. “This is one area that has been much less studied,” he says.

Kaeberlein says it’s likely that most companies will pursue anti-ageing drugs as therapies before they test them as prophylactics. “It’s much easier to get a therapy approved in people who are already sick,” he says. He thinks that mTOR inhibitors hold the most promise. “If I had the power to go back to the beginning of this whole COVID pandemic and try one thing, I’d pick mTOR inhibitors — rapamycin specifically,” he says. According to his back-of-the-envelope calculations, if rapamycin works in the same way in people as it does in mice, it could reduce COVID-19 mortality by 90%.

Kirkland says he can envisage giving one of these anti-ageing drugs as a primer before vaccination. “We have to figure out ways to target fundamental ageing mechanisms at around the time that we’re vaccinating people,” he says, “but we have to find ways of doing this that are safe and effective.”

Added ingredients

If tweaking the immune system proves too challenging, there might be ways to juice up the vaccine itself. For flu, there are two vaccines aimed specifically at people over 65, which help worn immune systems to stage a response. One, Fluzone High-Dose, contains four times the standard amount of flu virus antigens, and the other, Fluad, relies on an immune-boosting molecule called an adjuvant.

A team led by vaccinologist Ofer Levy at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts is working on a COVID-19 vaccine specifically for older adults, using an in-vitro screening system to identify the best adjuvants. “Vaccines were typically developed as one-size-fits-all,” he says. But a lot of features — age, sex, and even the season — affect vaccine responses, Levy says. The best combinations of adjuvant and vaccine they find will be tested in mice and then in humans.

But, in general, developing medications to improve immune function seems like a much smarter strategy than creating vaccines specifically for elderly people, says Claire Chougnet, an immunologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, who is studying inflammation in aged mice. Vaccine development is costly and time-intensive. “In the case of an emerging virus, when you want a quick response, that makes things even more complicated if you have to do two types of vaccine,” she says. Plus, individual vaccines target specific pathogens, but an immune-boosting medication could be used with any vaccine. “That could work for flu, that could work for COVID-19. That would work for COVID-25,” she says. The approach is “extremely versatile”.

Verdin agrees that supporting the older immune system should be a priority. “I think the net result of all this will be renewed interest in understanding the defect in the immune response in the elderly.” That has implications not only for the coronavirus, but also for a host of other diseases, including other viral infections and even cancer. “COVID-19 has brought to the front something that a lot of people have ignored.”

UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

  • October 11, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – The widely used BCG tuberculosis vaccine will be tested on frontline care workers in Britain for its effectiveness against COVID-19, researchers running the UK arm of a global trial said.

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to protect against tuberculosis, induces a broad innate immune-system response and has been shown to protect against infection or severe illness with other respiratory pathogens.

“BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalised way, which may offer some protection against COVID-19,” Professor John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said.

“We are seeking to establish whether the BCG vaccine could help protect people who are at risk of COVID-19. If it does, we could save lives by administering or topping up this readily available and cost-effective vaccination.”

The UK study is part of an existing Australian-led trial, which launched in April and also has arms in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested as a protection against COVID-19 in South Africa.

The British trial is recruiting volunteers ahead of winter months that officials have warned may be tough as the country grapples with a second wave of infections.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that restrictions to curb the pandemic could be in place until spring.

The trial’s UK arm, which is being run from Exeter, southwest England, is seeking to recruit 1,000 people who work in care homes and community healthcare nearby.

Globally, more than 10,000 healthcare staff will be recruited.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Christina Fincher)

Will Boosting Your Immunity Protect You From COVID?

Will Boosting Your Immunity Protect You From COVID?

  • October 7, 2020

Our immune systems have been a much discussed topic throughout the pandemic. Vitamin C supplements have been sold out almost as much as hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies, indicating that we’re all very concerned with staying healthy and strong in the face of the coronavirus.

Now that we know a little bit more about COVID-19, is there an efficient way of building up our immune systems? It’s a complicated topic with a complicated answer.

Despite what some wellness companies would have you believe, it’s scientifically impossible to boost your immune system. “Medically, it doesn’t really make sense – the immune system isn’t a switch that you turn on and turn up high,” immunologist Jenna Macciochi told the Huffington Post.

RELATED: 5 COVID Myths Debunked By WHO

Immune systems work by building up a basic defense against a virus or pathogen. After a week or so of exposure, say, to coronavirus, our bodies begin to produce antibodies, which allow us to give a more tailored response to the virus and get rid of it, building up our immunity towards it and helping us get cured.

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Photo by William Stitt via Unsplash

This whole system is made more complex by the variances in our DNA, with every person having their own strengths and weaknesses that make them ill suited and resistant to different diseases.

RELATED: Can CBD Boost Your Immune System?

In order to have a well functioning immune system, the one thing we can do, and that will actually provide some positive results, is to work on our overall health. Keep your drinking under control and avoid smoking. Work out regularly and eat the right kinds of foods, focusing on vegetables that are high in vitamins and fiber. Getting enough sleep and healthy doses of distraction can help you battle stress, which has been linked with weak immune systems.

While it’d be amazing to consume or do something that keeps your immune system in top shape, the topic is much more complicated than that. In order to keep yourself healthy you’re going to have to do the mundane work.

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No evidence that immunity boosting ‘kadha’ damages liver: AYUSH ministry – more lifestyle

  • October 7, 2020

New Delhi, Oct 6 (PTI) The AYUSH ministry on Tuesday dismissed claims that prolonged consumption of ‘kadha’, recommended as a preventive health measure for boosting immunity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, damages the liver, saying it is a “wrong notion” as ingredients used for preparing it are used in cooking at home. Speaking at a press briefing, secretary, AYUSH Ministry, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, said ingredients like cinnamon, basil and black pepper used for preparing the ‘kadha’ have a positive effect on the respiratory system. The Ministry of AYUSH had in March issued some self-care guidelines as preventive health measures for boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of the guidelines, among other things, it recommended drinking herbal tea or ‘kadha’ (decoction) made from basil, cinnamon, black pepper, dry ginger, and raisins once or twice a day. “There is no evidence that it (kadha) damages the liver. It is a wrong notion because the ingredients that go into the ‘kadha’ are used as masala in cooking at home,” Kotecha said. He, however, added that studies are ongoing to determine how effective these ingredients can be in the battle against COVID-19. On the protocol for the clinical management of COVID-19, which was released earlier in the day by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Kotecha said it is to be used in addition to following COVID-appropriate behaviour and standard treatment protocol and is not a “replacement” for the same.

Kotecha mentioned that the protocol has been brought out considering the ayurveda literature and clinical experience, empirical evidences and biological plausibility and also emerging trends of ongoing clinical studies. The ‘National Clinical Management Protocol based on Ayurveda and Yoga for Management of COVID-19’ lists dietary measures, yoga and ayurvedic herbs and formulations such as Ashwagandha and AYUSH-64 for the prevention of coronavirus infection and treatment of mild and asymptomatic cases. The AYUSH ministry, in the protocol document, pointed out that the current understanding indicates a good immune system is vital for the prevention of coronavirus infection and to safeguard one from disease progression.

The protocol suggests use of medicines such as Ashwagandha, Guduchi Ghana Vati or Chyawanaprasha as prophylactic care for high-risk population and primary contacts of patients. It recommends consumption of Guduchi Ghana Vati, Guduchi and Pippali or AYUSH 64 for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients for prevention of disease progression to symptomatic and severe forms and to improve recovery rate. Guduchi and Pippali, and AYUSH 64 tablets can be given to mild coronavirus infected patients, it said. The protocol also mentions the dose of these medicines to be taken. The guidelines stated that in addition to these medicines, general and dietary measures have to be followed.

Individuals with moderate to severe coronavirus infection may make an informed choice of treatment option and all severe cases will be referred, the protocol said. Physicians have to decide useful formulations from the list or substitutable classical medicines based upon their clinical judgement, suitability, availability and regional preferences. The dose may be adjusted based upon the patient’s age, weight, and condition of the disease, the ministry said. The document also listed Ashwagandha, Chyawanprasha or Rasayana Churna for post-COVID-19 management in order to prevent lung complications like fibrosis, fatigue and mental health. Further, to improve respiratory and cardiac efficiency, to reduce stress and anxiety and enhance immunity, the ministry has listed Yoga Protocol for Primary Prevention of COVID- 19.

The document also mentions Yoga Protocol for Post COVID-19 care (including care for COVID-19 patients) in order to improve pulmonary function and lung capacity, reduce stress and anxiety and improve muco-ciliary clearance. “This protocol and its annexure are approved by the Chairman, Interdisciplinary Committee for inclusion of Ayurveda and Yoga in the management of mild COVID-19 and approved by the empowered committee of the Interdisciplinary AYUSH Research and Development Taskforce on COVID-19, both constituted by the Ministry of AYUSH,” the document said. The ministry also recommended gargling with warm water with a pinch of turmeric and salt, nasal instillation/application of medicated oil (Anu taila or Shadbindu taila), plain oil or cow’s ghee once or twice a day, especially before going out and after coming back home, steam inhalation with carrom seeds, mint or eucalyptus oil once a day, moderate physical exercises and following yoga protocol as general measures. Dietary measures include use of warm water or boiled with herbs like ginger, coriander, basil or cumin seeds etc., for drinking purpose, drinking golden milk (half teaspoon turmeric powder in 150 ml hot milk) once at night (avoid in case of indigestion) and taking Ayush Kadha or Kwath (hot infusion or decoction) once a day.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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