Research identifies potential antiviral compound for COVID-19, flu, other viral infection

Research identifies potential antiviral compound for COVID-19, flu, other viral infection

  • June 11, 2021
infection
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

UMass Medical School scientists Katherine A. Fitzgerald, Ph.D.; Fiachra Humphries, Ph.D.; and Liraz Galia, Ph.D., working with the British-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, have identified a novel molecule capable of stimulating the innate immune system against SARS-CoV-2 virus. A trigger for the STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway, the compound, diamidobenzimidazole (diABZI-4), protected animal models and human cells in the lab from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Published in Science Immunology, these results show that diABZI-4 has the potential to be an effective antiviral prophylaxis against COVID-19.

“Identifying antiviral therapies for SARS-CoV-2 is still desperately needed while vaccines continue to rollout worldwide,” said Dr. Fitzgerald, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair, professor of medicine, vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine and director of the Program in Innate Immunity. “An approach like this, using a STING agonist, could be deployed to protect those at highest risk in this pandemic but also in future pandemics before we have drugs that target the virus itself.” Fitzgerald and Dr. Galia, a postdoctoral associate in the Fitzgerald lab, are authors on the paper.

Dr. Humphries, instructor in medicine and first author of the study, added, “Not everybody can receive a vaccine. For those who are immuno-compromised or have allergies, this treatment, which could be delivered through an inhaler, can be a viable alternative for boosting the .”

Vaccines work by stimulating the adaptive immune system, which creates antibodies against diseases and viruses. By taking a small piece of a virus that doesn’t cause , in the case of SARS-CoV-2 a part of the spike protein that latches onto and infects epithelial cells, scientists can teach the adaptive immune system to recognize specific viral invaders. Once the adaptive immune system has been trained, it can more quickly respond to subsequent encounters by producing the antibodies that fight off the virus. This prevents serious illness, such as COVID-19, and in some cases entirely blocks infection.

The innate immune system, however, is more of a generalist, explained Humphries. The innate immune system identifies any pathogen that it may encounter—whether it be bacterial, viral or fungal. One of its chief functions is to produce cytokines that serve as a first line of defense, antiviral responder. It also alerts the immune system to the presence of the invader and triggers the adaptive immune system to wake up.

The intracellular protein STING is like an early alarm system for the immune system. Once it has been activated, it triggers production of the cytokine interferon. This activity stimulates the to fight off the infection. A STING agonist, such as diABZI-4, could potentially serve a wake-up call to the immune system, giving it a boost to fight off pathogens before they get established.

Humphries and colleagues believed that the immune stimulating properties of diABZI-4 could also serve as an antiviral drug. It is already being tested as an immunotherapy for cancer.

By administering diABZI-4 intranasally, directly to the site of infection in mice, Humphries showed that it could activate the immune system and eliminate viral infection, such as SARS-CoV-2.

“It was kind of amazing,” said Humphries. “A single dose was able to protect 100 percent of the mice from severe disease. After taking diABZI-4, the mice were completely protected from infection.”

Subsequent cell studies showed that diABZI-4 was able to stimulate the innate immune response by activating the STING pathway that produces interferon I.

In part, what makes SARS-CoV-2 so effective is its ability to circumvent the antiviral response of the , said Fitzgerald. “But what we show is we can use a STING agonist to illicit antiviral immunity and be effective.”

Use of diABZI-4, which is stable at room temperature and can be produced relatively easily, may be an important adjuvant for current vaccine treatments for COVID-19. “You could see this being important for breakthrough infections and emerging variants,” said Humphries. “You could potentially take this through an inhaler shortly after a potential exposure or even prophylactically before entering a high-risk environment such as an airplane and you’d have a short-lived antiviral boost to your immune system that would clear any virus before infection is established.”

Fitzgerald and Humphries also showed that this antiviral response extended beyond SARS-CoV-2. It protected against influenza and herpes simplex virus as well. “Ultimately, this could have very broad antiviral applications,” said Humphries.


Researchers discover drug that blocks multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants in mice


More information:
Fiachra Humphries et al, A diamidobenzimidazole STING agonist protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection, Science Immunology (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abi9002

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UMMS research identifies potential antiviral compound for COVID-19, flu, other viral infection

UMMS research identifies potential antiviral compound for COVID-19, flu, other viral infection

  • June 11, 2021

UMass Medical School scientists Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD; Fiachra Humphries, PhD; and Liraz Galia, PhD, working with the British-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, have identified a novel molecule capable of stimulating the innate immune system against SARS-CoV-2 virus. A trigger for the STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway, the compound, diamidobenzimidazole (diABZI-4), protected animal models and human cells in the lab from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Published in Science Immunology, these results show that diABZI-4 has the potential to be an effective antiviral prophylaxis against COVID-19.

fitzgerald-katherine-330.jpg
Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD

“Identifying antiviral therapies for SARS-CoV-2 is still desperately needed while vaccines continue to rollout worldwide,” said Dr. Fitzgerald, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair, professor of medicine, vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine and director of the Program in Innate Immunity. “An approach like this, using a STING agonist, could be deployed to protect those at highest risk in this pandemic but also in future pandemics before we have drugs that target the virus itself.” Fitzgerald and Dr. Galia, a postdoctoral associate in the Fitzgerald lab, are authors on the paper.

Dr. Humphries, instructor in medicine and first author of the study, added, “Not everybody can receive a vaccine. For those who are immuno-compromised or have allergies, this treatment, which could be delivered through an inhaler, can be a viable alternative for boosting the immune response.”

Vaccines work by stimulating the adaptive immune system, which creates antibodies against diseases and viruses. By taking a small piece of a virus that doesn’t cause infection, in the case of SARS-CoV-2 a part of the spike protein that latches onto and infects epithelial cells, scientists can teach the adaptive immune system to recognize specific viral invaders. Once the adaptive immune system has been trained, it can more quickly respond to subsequent encounters by producing the antibodies that fight off the virus. This prevents serious illness, such as COVID-19, and in some cases entirely blocks infection.

humphries-fiachra-330.jpg
Fiachra Humphries, PhD

The innate immune system, however, is more of a generalist, explained Humphries. The innate immune system identifies any pathogen that it may encounter—whether it be bacterial, viral or fungal. One of its chief functions is to produce cytokines that serve as a first line of defense, antiviral responder. It also alerts the immune system to the presence of the invader and triggers the adaptive immune system to wake up.

The intracellular protein STING is like an early alarm system for the immune system. Once it has been activated, it triggers production of the cytokine interferon. This activity stimulates the adaptive immune system to fight off the infection. A STING agonist, such as diABZI-4, could potentially serve a wake-up call to the immune system, giving it a boost to fight off pathogens before they get established.

Humphries and colleagues believed that the immune stimulating properties of diABZI-4 could also serve as an antiviral drug. It is already being tested as an immunotherapy for cancer.

By administering diABZI-4 intranasally, directly to the site of infection in mice, Humphries showed that it could activate the immune system and eliminate viral infection, such as SARS-CoV-2.

“It was kind of amazing,” said Humphries. “A single dose was able to protect 100 percent of the mice from severe disease. After taking diABZI-4, the mice were completely protected from infection.”

Subsequent cell studies showed that diABZI-4 was able to stimulate the innate immune response by activating the STING pathway that produces interferon I.

In part, what makes SARS-CoV-2 so effective is its ability to circumvent the antiviral response of the innate immune system, said Fitzgerald. “But what we show is we can use a STING agonist to illicit antiviral immunity and be effective.”

Use of diABZI-4, which is stable at room temperature and can be produced relatively easily, may be an important adjuvant for current vaccine treatments for COVID-19. “You could see this being important for breakthrough infections and emerging variants,” said Humphries. “You could potentially take this through an inhaler shortly after a potential exposure or even prophylactically before entering a high-risk environment such as an airplane and you’d have a short-lived antiviral boost to your immune system that would clear any virus before infection is established.”

Fitzgerald and Humphries also showed that this antiviral response extended beyond SARS-CoV-2. It protected against influenza and herpes simplex virus as well. “Ultimately, this could have very broad antiviral applications,” said Humphries.

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Prevent Cold & Flu with Vitamins + Antioxidant Defense

  • June 8, 2021

By Storyhub

Your immune system is critical for ensuring your survival; it serves as the first line of defense against diseases, bacteria, and other viruses that may create damage in your body. It is an intricate system that identifies and destroys abnormal cells, clearing your body of any pathogens to keep your body in a state of homeostasis. Basically, it’s always on alert to keep you healthy.

There are many immune boosters present in the foods you eat, and if you’re not keeping a watchful eye on all the ingredients in your daily meals, you may be deficient when it comes to the vital nutrients and vitamins your body needs to ward off illness. This is where immune boosters come in. They’re packed with the vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory components your body needs to keep colds and flu symptoms from taking over and rending you immobile in bed for days or weeks.

Below, we share our top five immune boosters and include details about their ingredients so you can make the best choice when choosing an immune booster to assist with your overall health.

Top 5 Summary

  1. Immune Support – Editor’s Choice
  2. Immune Defence – Top Products for Families
  3. Immune Complex – Best Vegan Friendly Supplement
  4. Turmeric & Ginger – Ideal for Superfood Boost
  5. Mushroom Defense – Best for Immune & Cognitive Support

How Did We Make This List?

When it comes to choosing a solid immune boosting product, there are several considerations we had to think about. Mainly, we’re looking for transparency when it comes to ingredients and positive experiences detailed by consumers. Below, we list what we took into consideration when putting this top five list together.

Consumer reviews and comments detail personal experiences, which provide us with a look into their experiences with the immune boosting products. Positive reviews confirm the promises of the products, while less than stellar reviews provide an in-depth look of what areas could use improvement. We only chose products with reviews and comments that are overwhelmingly positive.

How well each brand describes their products is of paramount importance. As a consumer, you should understand why the product was created, what ingredients it contains, and how each of those ingredients supports your immune system. We look for transparency in this area.

We look for products that have a clear ingredients list and don’t try to sneak in fillers or synthetic ingredients. Each ingredient must serve a purpose and the product formulations should keep your overall health in mind, without cutting corners through the use of unnecessary components.

Immune System Boosters: In-Depth Product Reviews

1. Immune Support – Editor’s Choice

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • Sourced from GMP certified facility
  • Non-GMO
  • Lab-tested
  • Save with bundle purchases

Cons:

  • Not appropriate for pregnant or nursing mothers

Enjoy an array of botanical extracts in VitaPost’s Immune Support dietary supplement to gain the nourishment your immune system deserves. This is an everyday supplement that uses advanced herbal extracts along with antioxidant support to support your wellness. The primary ingredients in Immune Support include:

Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that works alongside your immune system to keep your system thriving, no matter your age. Green tea extract is also a powerful antioxidant that supports your immune system function while boosting your body’s other antioxidants as well.

  • Beta-Glucans and Graviola Leaf

Beta-glucans are the harmless sugar-chains that occur naturally in fungi and bacteria. Since the body recognizes these as pathogenic, it is able to build resistance to beta-glucans when they are introduced into the body. This is how beta-glucans work to support your immune system. The Graviola leaf is also known to support your immune system, so you get double the support with these two ingredients.

  • Mushroom and Herbal Complexes

With a combination of Reishi, Maitake, and Shiitake mushrooms, this formula boosts both immune and antioxidant properties.

Immune Support’s formula is well-rounded, incorporating ever-important antioxidants that fight free-radicals and oxidation while also utilizing the benefits of herbal extracts to support your immune system. Their formulation includes a powerful list of beneficial ingredients to power your immune system and keep it strong, fighting against diseases and pathogens that may cross your path at any point.

Click Here for the Best Price on Immune Support

2. Immune Defence – Top Products for Families

Pros:

  • 100-day money back guarantee
  • Premium quality ingredients
  • Free worldwide shipping
  • Vegan friendly

Cons:

  • Some people may not enjoy the taste of the lozenges

Immune Defence offers support for your whole family, providing healthy supplements for men, women, and children over four years of age. They have three main products:

  • Immune Support Gummies for Kids

These gummies are suitable for children four years and older and are formulated with elderberry, zinc, and vitamin C. They taste like berries, which makes them an easy to chew, tasty treat for your little ones. These are especially important for your child’s growing years because it helps boost their immune system and they’re yummy, so you won’t have to fuss with little ones about daily doses because they’ll look forward to the flavor. These gummies are great for year-round care, especially during flu season, when most of their peers are catching bugs at school and daycare.

  • Immune System Support Lozenges

These zinc lozenges are complemented with rosehip and acerola to not only support your immune system, but help you recover if you happen to catch a cold. They can be taken by children twelve years and older and provide vitamins A, C, and E to power your immune system and improve your recovery time should you fall ill. They taste like aniseed and are quick to dissolve on your tongue. They’ll soothe your throat on the way down too. No matter if you’ve gotten sick and want to kick it quick or if you want immune support strong throughout the year, these lozenges are great to have on hand because of their vital immune-boosting nutrients.

  • Immune Support Plus Capsules

These capsules contain elderberry, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D to keep you in good health throughout the year. All you need is one capsule per day to keep your body supported because they contain 425mg of elderberry, 35mg of zinc, and 90mg of vitamin C – which is considerably more than other similar products available on the market.

Click Here for the Best Price on Immune Defence

3. Immune Complex – Best Vegan Friendly Supplement

Pros:

  • Third party lab tested
  • Non-GMO
  • Sourced from a GMP certified facility
  • Vegan friendly

Cons:

  • Only available in capsule form

Immune Complex offers veggie capsules that help you incorporate more vitamins, botanicals, and zinc into your regular diet. The herbal extracts work wonders to provide nutritional support that strengthens your immune system. This product contains three main ingredients, including:

Elderberry is the name commonly used when referring to the Sambucus tree, which is a tree grown all over the world for its health advantages. Elderberries are packed with antioxidants and they support your immune system to encourage your best health.

Turmeric has an earthy flavor and it’s often used in curries, where it colors the food a deep yellow. It provides potent antioxidant benefits, it supports your immune system, and it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Echinacea is a beautiful flower that has been used within Native American wellness traditions for ages. It hosts tons of beneficial compounds, including antioxidants. When paired with vitamin C, it’s the perfect boost for your immune system.

In addition to the above ingredients, Immune Complex also contains garlic, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and vitamin B6 for a full range of benefits that are especially vital for a well-functioning immune system. Vitamin C, for instance, is necessary for your wellbeing while vitamin E serves as a strong antioxidant that fights against free radicals. When formulated together, all these key nutrients provide well-rounded care for your immune system.

Click Here for the Best Price on Immune Complex

4. Turmeric & Ginger – Ideal for Superfood Boost

Pros:

  • High quality ingredients
  • Made in the US
  • Includes BioPerine®
  • Supports joint and muscle health

Cons:

  • Only available in capsule form

Turmeric and ginger are a complementary match of two roots that create the ideal superfood blend. Not only do turmeric and ginger support a healthy immune system, but they also support joint health. This product contains three primary ingredients, including:

The root of turmeric has gained massive popularity all over the globe, due to its reputation for assisting with respiratory system health, joint health, and even alertness. It is a well-known part of the Ayurvedic tradition for all its healing and health-boosting properties.

Ginger is another superfood often used by those who are health conscious. It brings comfort to upset stomachs and supports joint health, all with a distinctive, alluring flavor enjoyed by many.

BioPerine® refers to the extract of peppercorn and long pepper and is a patented formulation. The chemical name for this extract is piperine, and you’re probably familiar with the taste of this pepper, as you likely incorporate it into many of your home-prepared meals. Piperidine is known for its ability to enhance absorption of some nutrients, particularly curcumin. It makes turmeric that much more powerful.

Turmeric is commonly used because of its beneficial effects, but unfortunately, its absorption rate can be low on most occasions. That’s why BioPerine® is such an essential addition to this formula; it ensures you’re getting more of the benefits associated with turmeric. Ginger, often consumed within beverages, offers massive relief if you’re experiencing digestive comfort. It’s a welcome superfood in any household. In addition, it supports your immune system to aid with your overall well being.

Click Here for the Best Price on Turmeric & Ginger

5. Mushroom Defense – Best for Immune & Cognitive Support

Pros:

  • 10 power-packed mushrooms in one capsule
  • 67 day returns (no questions asked)
  • 24/7 dedicated support

Cons:

  • Free shipping only on select packages

Mushroom Defense is an immune protector, along with a defender against cognitive decline and fatigue. This unique formula not only protects against bacterial and viral threats, but it also enhances your energy while sharpening your focus and helping your memory. This innovative 10-fold mushroom complex includes the following:

  • Shiitake Mushroom Extract

This extract contains vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds. Plus, it also contains Lentinan, which is a chemical compound that protects your DNA from oxidative destruction. Shiitake contains antiviral and anti-bacterial properties which strengthen your immune system, help reduce inflammation, and support cardiovascular health.

Chaga is known for its immune boosting properties, including its antioxidants, and has been used as a coffee replacement, even though it is caffeine-free. Chaga helps your immune system function better while also delivering anti-aging support and improving mental clarity. Plus, it promotes liver health and serves as an anti-inflammatory.

Reishi is known as the “Divine Mushroom” in Chinese. This mushroom is filled with immune boosting benefits, but also helps combat fatigue and inflammation. In addition, it promotes cellular health and increases NK cell activity, which assists with the containment of viral infections.

This mushroom gets its name from its appearance because it closely resembles the tail of a turkey. It’s equipped with immune boosting benefits and also aids gut health, promotes respiratory health, and even fights fatigue.

Lion’s mane is a mushroom with unique cognitive enhancing compounds. It serves as a protectant against cognitive decline, it helps improve focus and memory, and it even promotes gut health along with its immune boosting properties.

Maitake mushrooms contain adaptogens, which are properties that assist in the regulation of all the systems in your body. They are rich in antioxidants, contain anti-viral properties, and even help with weight loss – all while enhancing your immune system cells.

  • Royal Sun Agaricus Extract

These mushrooms are from Brazil and have been researched for 50 years. They boost your immune system, fight viruses, are packed with antioxidants, and support your cellular health.

  • White Button Mushroom Extract

White button mushrooms are the most popular mushrooms seen around the world and they protect your DNA from oxidative damage, which not only helps with your physical appearance, but also helps with maintaining mental clarity as you age. These mushrooms improve cellular survival and assist with eliminating threats to your immune system.

Though the name of this mushroom may sound off-putting, it’s been used traditionally for years because of how loaded it is with antioxidants and how well it supports your immune system. In addition, it improves your gut health, protects against cognitive decline, and reduces inflammation.

  • Cordyceps Sinensis Powder

These powerful mushrooms have a hefty price tag at around $9,000 USD per pound. They increase energy levels, contain anti-aging properties, and they support immune function. In addition, they’re packed with antioxidants and are known to enhance NK cell activity.

Mushroom Defense is unique because they incorporate both mycelium and fruiting bodies. Mycelium refers to the roots that live underground while fruit bodies are the mushroom pieces that live above ground. Incorporating both into this formula gives you all benefits offered by full mushrooms. Some of these benefits include:

If you regularly experience a midday crash or have trouble waking up in the morning, you should know it’s not normal to experience this. With proper nutrition, your days should be filled with steady energy without caffeine or other stimulants. When you supplement daily with Mushroom Defense, you experience what it feels like to wake feeling refreshed and go about your day without the need for coffee or an afternoon nap.

  • Improved Cognitive Function

Sometimes the word is on the tip of your tongue, but it just doesn’t come to you. Other times, you may forget an important event or appointment and wonder how that was even possible. When you experience cognitive issues, it can be incredibly frightening and frustrating. With Mushroom Defense, you experience more mental clarity, which means you can focus for longer periods and your memory is improved.

Mushroom Defense is a mushroom complex that gives your immune system a gentle helping hand. This is especially helpful if you suffer from seasonal allergies, as your immune system hops into overdrive to protect you against allergenic invaders. While allergies are your immune system’s natural response to fighting against pollen, with a boosted immune system, your reactions to allergens are not nearly as severe.

Click Here for the Best Price on Mushroom Defense

What are Immune Boosters?

Immune boosters are foods and supplements that keep your immune system in top shape, saving you from frequent colds, keeping you healthy during flu season, and helping you ward off infections. Below, we list a couple of well-known immune boosters:

Garlic is a welcome ingredient in most dishes and it’s one of the most beneficial foods to add to your regular diet to keep you in good health. Garlic is known to not only combat infections, but it is also helpful in slowing down the hardening of your arteries and boosting your immune system to keep you in a state of wellness.

Red bell peppers are packed with Vitamin C and are a rich source of beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that supports cognition. Beyond serving your immune system, red bell peppers also help you maintain healthy skin.

Vitamin C is known to strengthen your immune system, and it’s why many flock to it at the first sign of a cold. Vitamin C powers up white blood cells, which keep your body in the fight against any kind of infection. Since your body doesn’t produce vitamin C on its own, you need the daily boost to keep your immune function in great shape.

Ginger is another common go-to following illness. It helps to decrease inflammation and soothes sore throats and nausea. It has additional benefits, like lowering cholesterol and helping to alleviate chronic pain.

Spinach is also rich in vitamin C and it is filled to the brim with antioxidants and beta carotene, which keep your immune system ready to fight any infection that tries to take hold inside your body.

Turmeric is known for its delightful, yellow color and it is often used in dishes for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in curcumin, which boosts your immune system and has anti-viral properties.

Green tea is known for its antioxidants and works to increase immune function.

Papaya, like citrus fruits and spinach, is a powerhouse fruit loaded with vitamin C. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to benefit your overall health.

Natural Immune Boosters

Your immune system helps with regulating your body and it’s designed to ward off illnesses and diseases. There are several methods for boosting your immune system naturally, and each is easy to incorporate into your regular schedule. Ensure you are incorporating all of the following into your daily routine to keep your immune system functioning optimally:

Enjoy Nutrient-Dense Foods

Maintain a balanced, healthy diet to boost your immune system. Eat whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and meats, to enjoy the benefits of the nutrients they offer. You should also incorporate healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in avocados and eggs. Not only does a well-balanced diet keep your immune system functioning well, but it also keeps you in a healthy weight range, which is optimal for good long-term health.

Always Stay Hydrated

When you make sure you’re always well hydrated, you are giving your body the immune system support it needs. Skip the sugary drinks and opt for water instead. Drinking plenty of water helps with your digestive system and supports all of your body’s regular functions.

Incorporate Exercise

To keep your immune system healthy, you should be prioritizing exercise. Choose a moderate intensity for your workouts; the point is to get your heart rate up on a regular basis. Don’t overdo it, especially when you’re already feeling something coming on, because if you overexert yourself while your immune system is fighting off illness, you could lower your immune response.

Nightly Rest

Your body needs a good sleep schedule with deep rest to function optimally. Try to maintain the same bedtime and the same wakeup time, even on your days off. This allows your body to regenerate overnight, so you wake feeling rejuvenated. Your immune system benefits from your sleep cycles, so don’t skimp on your rest.

Supplement with Vitamins

Vitamins are helpful immune boosters that complement the nutrients you receive from the whole foods you consume. Keep your diet clean, with a balanced number of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats, and supplement with vitamins and other superfoods to keep your body going strong.

What Weakens the Immune System?

Just as there are ways to boost your immune system, there are actions you take that could cause the complete opposite effect and leave you vulnerable to illnesses and diseases. Avoid the following to keep your immune system healthy.

Excessive Sugar Intake

If you have a sweet tooth, you must be mindful not to overdo it. Sugar is addictive and it can be tough to say no to your favorite decadent desserts. But when your sugar spikes, your immune system is suppressed. And when your immune system is suppressed, you are more likely to catch a cold or flu virus.

Poor Diet Choices

Above we discussed the importance of incorporating whole, nutrient-dense foods into your diet. Cheeseburgers and pizza, though easy to get and often delicious going down, just don’t cut it. Avoid foods with poor nutritional value and stock your refrigerator with all the good stuff so when a craving hits, you can make a good choice that supports your immune health.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

You may love a good happy hour out with friends or co-workers, but excessive alcohol consumption is also a culprit that weakens your immune system. Limit your alcohol intake to keep your body at its peak.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Exercise is an important component of any healthy lifestyle. You may not have control over certain portions of your day if you work behind a desk; however, you should incorporate movement during your lunch breaks and after work to get your heart pumping and keep your immune system healthy.

Dehydration

Water gifts you with many benefits, including improved cognitive function. When you’re dehydrated, you may experience fogginess, mood changes, and even constipation. Hydrate sufficiently every day to keep your body, including your immune system, in perfect working order.

Poor Sleep Schedule

If your sleep schedule is erratic, your body doesn’t have any predictable way of knowing when it gets a chance to recharge. This can increase the level of cortisol in your body, which is a stress hormone, and stress has a negative impact on your immune system. It can also affect other hormone levels such as testosterone and estrogen. Pick your sleep schedule and stick to it every night.

Benefits of Immune Boosters

Immune boosters, depending on their ingredients, are loaded with many benefits for your overall health, such as:

  • Anti-viral properties to help ward off illnesses
  • Shortening the duration of bacterial and other infections
  • Supporting the body in the fight against any infection
  • Can assist with pain reduction due to anti-inflammatory properties
  • Supporting the respiratory system
  • Supporting gut health
  • Antioxidant support to fight free radicals

Conclusion

Immune boosters are just one component to a healthy lifestyle. When you incorporate an immune booster into a lifestyle that prioritizes your health, including a well-balanced diet and regular exercise regimen, you can bask in all the benefits they offer.

Try Immune Support to garner the benefits of botanical properties. Boost your entire family’s health with Immune Defence or try Immune Complex for a vegan-friendly immune boost. If you’re drawn to superfoods, try the Turmeric and Ginger supplement and if you want to enjoy the cognitive and anti-aging benefits of a unique 10-mushroom compound, opt for Mushroom Defense.


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Pirbright generates first pig flu antibodies to improve human treatments, guide flu vaccine selection

Pirbright generates first pig flu antibodies to improve human treatments, guide flu vaccine selection

  • June 7, 2021

This indicates they could be used to develop and assess human antibody therapies and their delivery methods. The pig antibodies also have the potential to improve how flu virus evolution is monitored and inform decisions about annual flu vaccine selection.

Antibodies form a vital part of the immune system’s response and help to fight off infections by latching on to important parts of invading microorganisms to neutralise them. In the case of flu viruses, many antibodies target a protein on the surface of the virus called haemagglutinin, which then prevents the virus from entering cells and replicating.

Pirbright scientists worked in collaboration with the University of Oxford, The Francis Crick Institute and The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub to generate pig antibodies in the laboratory (known as monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs). These are the first pig mAbs to be generated which target the influenza virus.

These mAbs recognise the same two main sites of the flu virus haemagglutinin protein that are targeted by human antibodies, and were found to be just as effective at neutralising the swine flu strain that caused the 2009 pandemic.

Dr Elma Tchilian, Mucosal Immunology Group Leader at Pirbright, said: “This demonstrates that pigs and humans, which are both natural hosts for influenza viruses, generate very similar immune responses.”

Pigs that were treated with one of the mAbs prior to infection were protected from severe disease and the flu virus was eliminated from their lungs. “These results indicate that the mAbs have therapeutic potential and could be used to evaluate mAb delivery methods” added Dr Tchilian.

Ferrets are commonly used as models to monitor flu virus evolution and to design or select vaccines that will provide the best protection against human seasonal flu strains. However, ferret antibodies did not recognise one of the main haemagglutinin sites that human antibodies target. The findings in the study, published in PLOS Pathogens, demonstrate that pig mAbs are more closely matched to human antibodies and could therefore improve the reliability of human vaccine selection.

Professor John Hammond, leader of The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub, added: “These results are a fantastic demonstration of how The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub can promote the use of new tools and methods, providing the opportunity to examine detailed antibody responses to inform the next generation of vaccines and therapies. This work reinforces the use of pigs as powerful model to predict human responses in infection and vaccination.”

This work was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Scientists from Oxford were also supported by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) Innovation Fund for Medical Sciences (CIFMS), China Grant, the Townsend-Jeantet Prize Charitable Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC, UKRI).

Scientists from The Francis Crick Institute were supported by Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

As COVID dissipates in the U.S., cold and flu viruses may return with a vengeance

As COVID dissipates in the U.S., cold and flu viruses may return with a vengeance

  • May 28, 2021

A curious thing happened during the COVID-19 pandemic: With masks, social distancing, and Purell galore, we kept most other germs at bay.

Flu vanished. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, which in a normal winter puts nearly 60,000 children under age 5 in the hospital, were nonexistent. Most of us appeared to sidestep the soup of bugs that cause colds.

But as masks come off, schools reopen, and some travel resumes, we should expect a resurgence of these viruses — perhaps a big one. Some experts fear we’re in for a nasty cold-and-flu season or two, pointing to a combination of factors that could make for a rough re-entry to the mixed microbes world.

“When they come back there’s going to be vulnerability and probably greater levels of infections,” Ben Cowling, an infectious diseases researcher at Hong Kong University, said of the various bugs. “Everyone’s going to be complaining about colds probably next winter.”

In fact, the resurgence has already started. Case counts of RSV — which causes colds for most people but can be a serious threat to little children and older adults — have been ticking up in a number of places in the country in recent weeks, including Brooklyn. In Utah, doctors in the Intermountain Healthcare network normally see about 300 or more RSV-infected children a week during the peak of a regular season; this winter a handful of cases was reported. But nearly 10 times that many have been reported since mid-May.

Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, has been monitoring which viruses are circulating through Nextstrain, a program that tracks the genetic evolution of pathogens and the Seattle Flu Study. After SARS-CoV-2 took root in the U.S., for a full year the only things being reported were COVID cases and rhinovirus infections. Not anymore.

“Just in the last month or so we’ve started to pick up small amounts of seasonal coronavirus, RSV, metapneumovirus, etc. It’s the first time since April 2020 where we’re starting to see other things circulating,” Bedford said.

The viral reprieve: A boon and a bane

Not having to fend off colds and flu during the worst of COVID has obviously been a blessing, for us as individuals and for the health care system. But that period when we’ve been sheltered from viral challenges will likely come with a cost when we de-mask, return to office work, and start to be in closer proximity to others again.

In normal times, we’re often in contact with viral respiratory pathogens. Sometimes we get sick, but sometimes those exposures just boost our immune defenses against that particular threat. “Even if you just get exposed and there’s not much replication and you don’t get sick, there’s a restimulation of T-cells,” said Florian Krammer, a vaccinologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan.

A year and a half without these boosts to our adaptive immunity — the part of the immune system that relies on the memory of previous exposures to activate defenses — could mean many of us are that much more susceptible to these bugs, Krammer said. “There’s just lower levels of adaptive immunity in the population for them.”

Time to talk about the kids

This period of viral inactivity will likely have an impact on adults. But it will definitely have an impact on children.

As any parent, daycare worker, or elementary school teacher will attest, children are germ amplifiers. Within a few weeks of the start of the school year, they start getting sick — infecting each other and the adults in their orbits. A lot of that normal bug-swapping activity didn’t happen when kids were being schooled remotely and didn’t have as much contact with people outside their households.

The experience of Hong Kong schools late last year tells us what we can probably expect when in-person teaching resumes here. Cowling and colleagues reported in February on an explosion of rhinovirus outbreaks throughout the city-state’s schools, when they were re-opened last October after months of at-home learning. Some children got so sick they ended up in hospital. Rhinoviruses are the most common cause of the common cold.

Ellen Foxman, an immunologist who studies rhinoviruses as part of her research on the innate immune system at Yale University, said she expects similar activity here. (The innate immune system is the part that isn’t threat-specific; it’s the general, non-specific response that kicks into gear when the body recognizes there’s an invader.)

READ MORE: How the COVID pandemic ends: Scientists look to the past to see the future

“I can imagine that when things first start up again in the fall and all the kids go back to college and other kids go back to elementary school and preschool and daycare that you will have a lot of respiratory virus transmission,” Foxman said.

Really young children will have been sheltered during a period in their lives when they would typically have a lot of encounters with respiratory viruses. “We now have some kids who’ve never been exposed to things who are going to go to daycare for the first time,” she noted.

Andrew Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah, is worried about RSV. “There will be two years’ worth of kids who are naïve to RSV in the U.S., instead of one birth cohort. That could be fertile ground for a big RSV year,” he warned earlier this spring on Twitter.

In an email, he said that U.S. children’s hospitals are on edge having seen western Australia reporting large out-of-season RSV outbreaks over that country’s summer.

Likewise little kids may be hit hard by flu, when it returns. This past winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was informed of only a single child who died from flu in the United States. Pediatric flu deaths must be reported to the CDC; most years there are somewhere between 150 and 200 such deaths.

A swell of rhinovirus infections might actually help to quell COVID and flu infections, at least for a while, research from Foxman’s laboratory suggests. The effect was seen in the timing of the fall wave of the H1N1 flu pandemic in Europe, she and colleagues reported in the journal Lancet Microbe. Working in organoids of airway epithelial cell tissues, they saw the same short-term inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections following rhinovirus infections. That work is reported in a preprint, meaning it has not yet gone through peer review.

“I’m of the camp that once viruses are circulating around, those innate immune responses provide a general level of protection against things getting too crazy and too out of hand with respiratory viruses,” Foxman said.

Several big question marks hang over influenza

There was no flu season this past winter. Influenza scientists are worried that is setting us up for a big flu season soon, with more susceptibility.

Cécile Viboud, an epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogerty International Center, isn’t sure lots of flu will translate into lots of severe flu. “There is some residual level of immunity and also we think immunity goes beyond one year or two years or 15 months,” she said. And, she noted, there’s flu vaccine.

“I think it will depend on the fraction of people who get vaccinated next fall,” Viboud said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of messaging to try to encourage that because everyone’s worried about that.”

During the pandemic an unusual phenomenon has been observed with flu viruses that is a source of hope for some and concern for others. There’s a lot less genetic diversity among the viruses. That, the glass-half-full types point out will make it much easier to select the strains for flu shots.

But others, including Scott Hensley, an influenza expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Immunology, see risk.

“When we see this real narrowing of the genetic diversity of flu, I think that’s indicative of a narrowing to only those strains that are super highly transmissible or those that at least have a fitness advantage, whether it’s an increase in transmissibility or an increase in immune escape,” said Hensley. “Whatever it is, most of the viral lineages have been whittled out and what we’re left with I’m afraid might be the most fit strain.”

Krammer doesn’t share that fear, saying he thinks the viruses that have survived may have been in the right place at the right time to infect people. “I think it might not be necessarily an effect of fitness, it might be more an effect of basically randomness.”

READ MORE: Comparing the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson

Another question hanging over flu is how much of it we’ll see in North America next winter. The spread of flu relies heavily on international travel, which remains well below pre-pandemic levels at this point.

“It’s hard to judge because I don’t know what will happen to international travel,” Krammer, who predicts a bad flu season soon, said when asked when to expect it.

“It might be the next season, it might be the season afterwards, and it could be that I’m completely wrong,” he said. “But I think either this or next winter season might be a really bad flu season.”

Predicting viral behavior is tricky business

Many physicians and researchers who work on infectious diseases share Krammer’s sense of dread that the revenge of the respiratory pathogens will be playing out across the Northern Hemisphere this coming fall and winter. But the reality is these are hunches. Informed hunches, to be sure. But hunches still.

Remember, last fall there were dire warnings about the looming “twindemic” — with public health leaders predicting that health systems collapsing under the weight of COVID cases would be hit by a surge of flu infections as well.

Never happened. Flu transmission occurred at minimal levels in most of the world in the Northern Hemisphere winter. The CDC reported last week that the cumulative rate of people hospitalized for flu this past winter was fewer than 1 person per 100,000 people — one-tenth the rate in 2011-2012, which was a historically low-severity flu season.

Best to keep that in mind when looking to what winter 2021-2022 will hold, some experts advise.

“Well, I don’t have a crystal ball and … I don’t think anybody knows for sure what’s going to happen when things open up again,” Yale’s Foxman said. “I think it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens this coming year. It’s really a complex interplay of immunology and human behavior.”

She and others who spoke with STAT stressed that latter factor, saying effectively this: We are not without ammunition in this upcoming battle. We may be tired as hell of COVID-suppression measures, but we’ve learned they actually keep other respiratory pathogens in check.

“I can’t imagine that won’t have some impact on people’s behavior,” Foxman said. “I don’t think we can cancel international travel or work from home forever. But I bet you this will change the culture around people going to work sick or sending their child to school sick, which was a very common occurrence pre-COVID.”

This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on May 27, 2021. Find the original story here.

As Covid dissipates in U.S., colds and flu may return with a vengeance

As Covid dissipates in U.S., colds and flu may return with a vengeance

  • May 27, 2021

A curious thing happened during the Covid-19 pandemic: With masks, social distancing, and Purell galore, we kept most other germs at bay.

Flu vanished. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, which in a normal winter puts nearly 60,000 children under age 5 in the hospital, were nonexistent. Most of us appeared to sidestep the soup of bugs that cause colds.

But as masks come off, schools reopen, and some travel resumes, we should expect a resurgence of these viruses — perhaps a big one. Some experts fear we’re in for a nasty cold-and-flu season or two, pointing to a combination of factors that could make for a rough re-entry to the mixed microbes world.

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“When they come back there’s going to be vulnerability and probably greater levels of infections,” Ben Cowling, an infectious diseases researcher at Hong Kong University, said of the various bugs. “Everyone’s going to be complaining about colds probably next winter.”

In fact, the resurgence has already started. Case counts of RSV — which causes colds for most people but can be a serious threat to little children and older adults — have been ticking up in a number of places in the country in recent weeks, including Brooklyn. In Utah, doctors in the Intermountain Healthcare network normally see about 300 or more RSV-infected children a week during the peak of a regular season; this winter a handful of cases was reported. But nearly 10 times that many have been reported since mid-May.

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Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, has been monitoring which viruses are circulating through Nextstrain, a program that tracks the genetic evolution of pathogens and the Seattle Flu Study. After SARS-CoV-2 took root in the U.S., for a full year the only things being reported were Covid cases and rhinovirus infections. Not anymore.

“Just in the last month or so we’ve started to pick up small amounts of seasonal coronavirus, RSV, metapneumovirus, etc. It’s the first time since April 2020 where we’re starting to see other things circulating,” Bedford said.

The viral reprieve: A boon and a bane

Not having to fend off colds and flu during the worst of Covid has obviously been a blessing, for us as individuals and for the health care system. But that period when we’ve been sheltered from viral challenges will likely come with a cost when we de-mask, return to office work, and start to be in closer proximity to others again.

In normal times, we’re often in contact with viral respiratory pathogens. Sometimes we get sick, but sometimes those exposures just boost our immune defenses against that particular threat. “Even if you just get exposed and there’s not much replication and you don’t get sick, there’s a restimulation of T-cells,” said Florian Krammer, a vaccinologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan.

A year and a half without these boosts to our adaptive immunity — the part of the immune system that relies on the memory of previous exposures to activate defenses — could mean many of us are that much more susceptible to these bugs, Krammer said. “There’s just lower levels of adaptive immunity in the population for them.”

Time to talk about the kids

This period of viral inactivity will likely have an impact on adults. But it will definitely have an impact on children.

As any parent, daycare worker, or elementary school teacher will attest, children are germ amplifiers. Within a few weeks of the start of the school year, they start getting sick — infecting each other and the adults in their orbits. A lot of that normal bug-swapping activity didn’t happen when kids were being schooled remotely and didn’t have as much contact with people outside their households.

The experience of Hong Kong schools late last year tells us what we can probably expect when in-person teaching resumes here. Cowling and colleagues reported in February on an explosion of rhinovirus outbreaks throughout the city-state’s schools, when they were re-opened last October after months of at-home learning. Some children got so sick they ended up in hospital. Rhinoviruses are the most common cause of the common cold.

Ellen Foxman, an immunologist who studies rhinoviruses as part of her research on the innate immune system at Yale University, said she expects similar activity here. (The innate immune system is the part that isn’t threat-specific; it’s the general, non-specific response that kicks into gear when the body recognizes there’s an invader.)

“I can imagine that when things first start up again in the fall and all the kids go back to college and other kids go back to elementary school and preschool and daycare that you will have a lot of respiratory virus transmission,” Foxman said.

Really young children will have been sheltered during a period in their lives when they would typically have a lot of encounters with respiratory viruses. “We now have some kids who’ve never been exposed to things who are going to go to daycare for the first time,” she noted.

Andrew Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah, is worried about RSV. “There will be two years’ worth of kids who are naïve to RSV in the U.S., instead of one birth cohort. That could be fertile ground for a big RSV year,” he warned earlier this spring on Twitter.

In an email, he said that U.S. children’s hospitals are on edge having seen western Australia reporting large out-of-season RSV outbreaks over that country’s summer.

Likewise little kids may be hit hard by flu, when it returns. This past winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was informed of only a single child who died from flu in the United States. (Pediatric flu deaths must be reported to the CDC; most years there are somewhere between 150 and 200 such deaths.

A swell of rhinovirus infections might actually help to quell Covid and flu infections, at least for a while, research from Foxman’s laboratory suggests. The effect was seen in the timing of the fall wave of the H1N1 flu pandemic in Europe, she and colleagues reported in the journal Lancet Microbe. Working in organoids of airway epithelial cell tissues, they saw the same short-term inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections following rhinovirus infections. That work is reported in a preprint, meaning it has not yet gone through peer review.

“I’m of the camp that once viruses are circulating around, those innate immune responses provide a general level of protection against things getting too crazy and too out of hand with respiratory viruses,” Foxman said.

Several big question marks hang over influenza

There was no flu season this past winter. Influenza scientists are worried that is setting us up for a big flu season soon, with more susceptibility.

Cécile Viboud, an epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogerty International Center, isn’t sure lots of flu will translate into lots of severe flu. “There is some residual level of immunity and also we think immunity goes beyond one year or two years or 15 months,” she said. And, she noted, there’s flu vaccine.

“I think it will depend on the fraction of people who get vaccinated next fall,” Viboud said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of messaging to try to encourage that because everyone’s worried about that.”

During the pandemic an unusual phenomenon has been observed with flu viruses that is a source of hope for some and concern for others. There’s a lot less genetic diversity among the viruses. That, the glass-half-full types point out will make it much easier to select the strains for flu shots.

But others, including Scott Hensley, an influenza expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Immunology, see risk.

“When we see this real narrowing of the genetic diversity of flu, I think that’s indicative of a narrowing to only those strains that are super highly transmissible or those that at least have a fitness advantage, whether it’s an increase in transmissibility or an increase in immune escape,” said Hensley.  “Whatever it is, most of the viral lineages have been whittled out and what we’re left with I’m afraid might be the most fit strain.”

Krammer doesn’t share that fear, saying he thinks the viruses that have survived may have been in the right place at the right time to infect people. “I think it might not be necessarily an effect of fitness, it might be more an effect of basically randomness.”

Another question hanging over flu is how much of it we’ll see in North America next winter. The spread of flu relies heavily on international travel, which remains well below pre-pandemic levels at this point.

“It’s hard to judge because I don’t know what will happen to international travel,” Krammer, who predicts a bad flu season soon, said when asked when to expect it.

“It might be the next season, it might be the season afterwards, and it could be that I’m completely wrong,” he said. “But I think either this or next winter season might be a really bad flu season.”

Predicting viral behavior is tricky business

Many physicians and researchers who work on infectious diseases share Krammer’s sense of dread that the revenge of the respiratory pathogens will be playing out across the Northern Hemisphere this coming fall and winter. But the reality is these are hunches. Informed hunches, to be sure. But hunches still.

Remember, last fall there were dire warnings about the looming “twindemic” — with public health leaders predicting that health systems collapsing under the weight of Covid cases would be hit by a surge of flu infections as well.

Never happened. Flu transmission occurred at minimal levels in most of the world in the Northern Hemisphere winter. The CDC reported last week that the cumulative rate of people hospitalized for flu this past winter was fewer than 1 person per 100,000 people — one-tenth the rate in 2011-2012, which was a historically low-severity flu season.

Best to keep that in mind when looking to what winter 2021-2022 will hold, some experts advise.

“Well, I don’t have a crystal ball and … I don’t think anybody knows for sure what’s going to happen when things open up again,” Yale’s Foxman said. “I think it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens this coming year. It’s really a complex interplay of immunology and human behavior.”

She and others who spoke with STAT stressed that latter factor, saying effectively this: We are not without ammunition in this upcoming battle. We may be tired as hell of Covid-suppression measures, but we’ve learned they actually keep other respiratory pathogens in check.

“I can’t imagine that won’t have some impact on people’s behavior,” Foxman said. “I don’t think we can cancel international travel or work from home forever. But I bet you this will change the culture around people going to work sick or sending their child to school sick, which was a very common occurrence pre-Covid.”

Nanoparticle based shot could boost efficacy, accelerate production of seasonal flu vaccines

Nanoparticle based shot could boost efficacy, accelerate production of seasonal flu vaccines

  • May 25, 2021

Key to the vaccine’s success is a liposome the developers created called cobalt-porphyrin-phospholipid, or CoPoP. They are tiny spherical sacs, which are small enough to be considered nanoparticles, and they form the backbone of the vaccine platform.

Described in a study published on May 24 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the experimental vaccine has reportedly proven effective in preclinical studies.

“The results are very encouraging​,” says the study’s senior author, Jonathan Lovell, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University at Buffalo, New York.

Liposomes spontaneously convert virus proteins that prompt immune responses into a more potent nanoparticle format, said the team behind the development of the vaccine. 

“This conversion is advantageous because the dissolved proteins attach to the surface of the liposomes, where the proteins enhance the immune system’s response to disease,”​ says senior author, Matthew Miller, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University, a public research university in Ontario, Canada. 

In summary, the experimental flu vaccine, according to the research team behind the study, has the potential to:

  • Improve the effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccines
  • Take less time to produce large quantities because, unlike most seasonal flu vaccines, it is not created in embryonated chicken eggs
  • Use smaller doses, thereby increasing vaccine supplies, which can be critical given the unpredictable nature of influenza.

Flu fighter: Nanoparticle-based vaccine effective in preclinical trials

Flu fighter: Nanoparticle-based vaccine effective in preclinical trials

  • May 24, 2021

The vaccine, made of disease-fighting proteins, could boost efficacy, accelerate production of seasonal flu vaccines

BUFFALO, N.Y. — An experimental flu vaccine consisting of billions of tiny spherical sacs that carry infection-fighting proteins throughout the body has proven effective in preclinical studies.

Described in a study published May 24 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the vaccine has the potential to:

  • Improve the effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccines, which typically work 40-60% of the time, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Take less time to produce large quantities because, unlike most seasonal flu vaccines, it is not created in embryonated chicken eggs.
  • Use smaller doses, thereby increasing vaccine supplies, which can be critical given the unpredictable nature of influenza.

“The results are very encouraging”, says study senior co-author, Jonathan Lovell, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University at Buffalo.

 “Typically, flu vaccines contain either deactivated microbes that cause influenza, or they are based on weakened forms of the disease. The vaccine we’re developing is a recombinant protein nanoparticle vaccine that stimulates a strong immune response,” Lovell says.

Key to the vaccine’s success is a liposome Lovell and colleagues created called cobalt-porphyrin-phospholipid, or CoPoP.

These tiny spherical sacs, which are small enough to be considered nanoparticles, form the backbone of what is known pharmaceutical parlance as a vaccine platform, which is any underlying technology used to develop multiple vaccines.

(While not part of this study, the platform is being utilized in clinical trials in South Korea as a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. This is a partnership between UB spinoff company POP Biotechnologies, co-founded by Lovell, and South Korean biotech company EuBiologics. POP Biotechnologies is also working with Scripps Research to study the platform in a possible HIV vaccine.)

Alone, these liposomes do not fight disease. But they possess a special talent. They spontaneously convert virus proteins that prompt immune responses into a more potent nanoparticle format.

“This conversion is advantageous because the dissolved proteins attach to the surface of the liposomes, where the proteins enhance the immune system’s response to disease,” says senior author Matthew Miller, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University

In the study, the researchers introduced a group of proteins known as hemagglutinin to the CoPop liposomes. One particular hemagglutinin, known as trimeric H3 HA, triggered a strong immune response in mice.

“The nanoparticles carry the trimeric H3 HA to the body’s immune cells, and they provoke those immune cells to respond more vigorously to the flu,” says lead author Zachary Sia, a PhD candidate in Lovell’s lab.

In experiments involving flu virus strain H3N2, blood serum from vaccinated mice was injected into non-vaccinated mice. The injection provided protection against H3N2. In experiments with ferrets involving a more modern H3N2 strain, the vaccine reduced the amount of virus in the animals’ upper respiratory system.

Even with doses as low as 2 nanograms, the vaccine provided a similar level of protection that vaccines with doses typically measured in micrograms, or roughly 1,000 times more.

“The dose-sparing effect is important because it means we could create many more doses using less materials” says senior co-author Bruce Davidson, PhD, research associate professor of anesthesiology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “Simply put, CoPoP likely will provide greater immune protection with less hemagglutinin than current vaccines.”

The vaccine platform is also versatile.

Researchers were able to simultaneously bind 10 recombinant proteins representing distinct influenza virus strains to generate a highly multivalent nanoparticle. A 5 nanogram dose in mice offered protection against the H5N1 flu strain, more commonly known as bird flu, a virus that epidemiologists say has the potential to trigger a pandemic.

Funding to support the study came from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, from a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award from the Government of Ontario, a Physicians Services Inc. Research Trainee Fellowship, and a CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Additional support came from the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System, the Facility for Electron Microscopy Research at McGill University, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Quebec.

Lovell and co-author Wei-Chiao Huang hold interest in POP Biotechnologies.

Image: iStock

A naturopath reveals the cold and flu supplements that actually work

  • May 18, 2021

We speak with an expert in natural health and wellness about how to keep sickness at bay this winter. 

Winter is coming and Australians are once again facing a double threat of flu and COVID-19, so it’s more important than ever to make sure we have a strong immune system in place to ward off viruses.

Eating well, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a regular fitness routine are all crucial for immunity but there are also a few ways to supplement good health.

After almost 20 years in the health industry working as a naturopath, herbalist and naturopathy lecturer at the largest private higher education provider of natural health courses in the Southern Hemisphere – Endeavour College of Natural Health, I’ve come across some cold and flu remedies that have become staples during the cooler months to boost immunity and stay fighting fit.

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Andrographis

Andrographis (also known as Indian echinacea) has been shown to be acutely effective for colds and flus but it’s important to note that it should only be taken in short bursts. There were some stories during the pandemic about Andrographis supplements causing loss of taste and this highlighted the need to follow instructions and consult a professional to avoid side effects from overuse.

Recent research also showed that Andrographis (along with green tea, Vitamins C, D and zinc) lowered symptom severity and duration of respiratory events via immune modulation, inflammatory regulation and viral control. Andrographis may be protective for patients at risk of severe consequences from infection.

Elderberry

Elderberry isn’t as well-known as Vitamin C but it packs a punch when it comes to immunity and assisting with colds and flus. It’s one of most researched herbs and has been shown to be effective against viral infections. The little known berry skyrocketed to fame when Miranda Kerr touted its benefits during the pandemic.

Medicinal mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Shitake, Cordyceps and Coriolus may have beneficial effects on our immune response by enhancing immune function and providing antiviral and antibacterial actions. They can trigger the production of Natural Killer cells, which help us fight back against invading pathogens, which may help us recover from infections while providing resistance to illness.

In addition they are beneficial for our gut microbiome in many ways including acting as a prebiotic source which supplies food for our beneficial flora and also via signalling to our immune system. In addition, medicinal mushrooms are nourishing for our adrenal glands and can help us cope with stress. These mushrooms with benefits usually come in a powder form and can be mixed with plant based milks and honey.

Probiotics

Considering that 80 per cent of the immune system resides in the gut, this is a crucial area to support in winter and probiotics are a great tool for good gut health. These tiny live organisms, which we consume in the billions (of colony forming units), can have a big impact on our physical wellbeing.

Their antimicrobial effect in the gut promotes immune modulation which makes them an effective tool against allergic and inflammatory responses while at the same time improving resistance to pathogens.

Propolis

Propolis is always in my handbag in winter and whenever I travel, especially on planes. Produced as a by-product of honey production, bees use the sticky substance to coat the inside of the hive and it does the same thing in our throat, reducing the likelihood of bacteria taking hold or infecting the host, which may protect against catching a virus.

It’s also valued for its antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties, which have been shown to be effective against viruses like influenza. It may also be useful for sore throats, ear infections and any mild upper respiratory tract infection.

Vitamin C

Long touted for its ability to reduce cold and flu symptoms and ramp up immunity, Vitamin C is one of the most popular supplements in the world. For the best impact against a cold or flu, try liposomal formulations of Vitamin C which have been shown to improve absorption – up to 93 per cent compared to 17 per cent for regular Vitamin C capsules.

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin really came into its own during the pandemic with a lot of studies showing how important it was in the fight against COVID-19. It has even been proposed that vitamin D supplementation could help reduce the severity of a flu for nursing home residents.

It has long been known that Vitamin D is useful when it comes to immunity but it’s estimated that 30-50 per cent of us could be deficient. A daily supplement can top up regular bursts of sunshine.

Zinc

Zinc is one of my favourite supplements, especially when it is in a readily available form like citrate or glycinate for better absorption. Zinc can help with many modern ailments including immunity, as long as it’s taken in the right dose – around 25-50mg daily.

Some research during the pandemic showed that absorption was markedly increased when taken with ECGC (from green tea) to increase zinc’s anti-viral activity while other studies revealed that COVID-19 patients lacking in zinc developed more complications.

Always seek the advice of a health practitioner and speak to your Naturopath before self-prescribing herbal medicine, especially if you are taking any other medication. Fin Mackenzie is a naturopath, Naturopathic & Nutritional Medicine Lecturer at Endeavour College of Natural Health, and founder of Green Door Health.

A COVID-19 vaccine in intranasal form in front of several out of focus vials of COVID-19 vaccine.

Nasal Vaccines for COVID-19? | MedPage Today

  • May 11, 2021

Despite an arsenal of highly effective injectable vaccines, drugmakers are looking into products that will be easier to store, transport, and administer in the global crisis — particularly, intranasal vaccines.

Could these vaccines also hold an advantage when it comes to blocking transmission? While more data has suggested the vaccines authorized in the U.S. cut transmission, some experts have argued that intranasal vaccines may do an even better job of this.

MedPage Today surveyed the global landscape of intranasal vaccines in development, the majority of which are in early stages.

Rationale for COVID-19 Mucosal Vaccines

The mucosal immune system represents the body’s first line of defense against outside pathogens at surfaces like the nose, lungs, mouth, eyes, and GI tract. Because the nasopharynx is the primary entry point for SARS-CoV-2, targeting the nasal cavity could be one of the best lines of defense for vaccines, according to Michael Russell, PhD, an emeritus professor of microbiology and immunology at the University at Buffalo in New York.

“By generating effective mucosal immune responses, it should be possible to forestall coronavirus infection from the outset, and also more effectively reduce transmission of the virus,” Russell told MedPage Today. “Nasal immunization aims to replicate this natural immunization process in a more effective manner.”

Current injectable vaccines induce a systemic immune response by generating circulating IgG antibodies that neutralize pathogens before they can cause severe tissue damage. But IgG is not very good at controlling viral entry into the body. To do that, the mucosal immune system is needed. It produces secretory IgA at the site of viral entry, and in larger quantities than any other type of immunoglobulin in the body.

“The major advantage of mucosal vaccines would be to create a strong immune response at the initial site of virus entry. If you can stop the virus here, it won’t be able to get into the lungs to cause damage,” said Richard Kennedy, PhD, who studies the development of immune responses after vaccination at the Mayo Clinic.

IgA also seems to be important in early infection. In one study, researchers measured immune responses in 159 patients with COVID-19. They found that IgA dominated the early stage of infection, peaked 3 weeks after symptom onset, and neutralized virus better than IgG. The results suggest that IgA-mediated mucosal immunity may decrease infectivity of the virus in human secretions and decrease viral transmission, according to the authors.

Mucosal Vaccines in the Pipeline

While mucosal vaccines may hold promise, clinical trials have only recently begun. Among 96 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, just eight are intranasal vaccines. Clinical trials are being conducted in the U.S., U.K., China, India, Cuba, and Iran, according to World Health Organization data released on May 5.

Two intranasal vaccine candidates are in phase II clinical trials. One uses a live-attenuated influenza virus adapted to express the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and is being developed by the University of Hong Kong, Xiamen University, and the Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The second is a protein subunit vaccine that is being developed by Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute in Iran.

In the U.S., two intranasal vaccine candidates are in phase I trials. The first is Altimmune’s nonreplicating adenoviral vector vaccine called AdCOVID. On March 25, the company released preclinical results in mice suggesting that the vaccine was protective against illness, decreased levels of replicating virus in the nose and respiratory tract, and produced a “robust” IgG response. Past results in mice had shown that IgA antibodies were maintained for at least 6 months after a single dose of the vaccine.

The second is Meissa’s live-attenuated candidate. Preclinical data in nonhuman primates have suggested that the candidate induced mucosal IgA and serum neutralizing antibodies, and was “highly protective” against infection with SARS-CoV-2 in the upper and lower respiratory tract.

Other intranasal vaccine candidates in clinical trials include: Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering & Biotech protein subunit vaccine (phase I/II); the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s Covishield, a nasal spray version of its ChadOx1 vaccine (phase I); Codagenix/Serum Institute of India’s live-attenuated SARS CoV-2 COVI-VAC vaccine (phase I); and India’s Bharat Biotech’s non-replicating adenoviral vector vaccine.

Recently, China’s CanSino Biologics announced plans to start a phase I/II trial of another inhaled vaccine, according to an emailed news release from the data and analytics company Global Data.

Because SARS-CoV-2 also infects the GI tract, another potential site of mucosal immunity, oral vaccines are also in clinical trials. Maryland’s Vaxart recently announced that it will be advancing one oral vaccine candidate to a phase II trial, and two oral vaccine candidates to phase I/II trials. California’s Immunity Bio has a nonreplicating human adenoviral vector vaccine in a phase Ib trial, and Symvivo/Merck’s DNA-based vaccine is in a phase I trial in Australia.

Advantages and Drawbacks

Both oral and intranasal vaccines offer the advantage of being stable at room temperature, making them easier to ship and potentially improving access to vaccination in remote or resource-poor settings. Both offer the advantage of easier administration, in the form of a nasal spray, pill, or drop on the tongue. That, in turn, may help improve acceptance, especially among children and the needle-shy, Russell said.

Nevertheless, mucosal vaccines do have drawbacks. While they can produce both systemic and local immunity, one stumbling block is producing effective, long-lasting immunity. Mucosal surfaces contain various barriers to pathogens — high acidity in the upper GI tract, sticky layers of mucous in the respiratory system — which may interfere with the ability of vaccines to access and activate the mucosal immune system. That could contribute to poor immunogenicity and faster waning immunity.

For instance, the intranasal flu vaccine FluMist has had a rocky road, in part because of lower effectiveness compared to injectable flu vaccines.

“There are not many licensed mucosal vaccines,” Kennedy said. “These vaccines are effective for certain pathogens, but this may or may not be true for SARS-CoV-2.”

Safety is another consideration. The majority of mucosal vaccines licensed in the U.S. are delivered via the oral route. Perhaps because of closer proximity to the brain, vaccine regulators appear to have shied away from the intranasal route. For example, Berna Biotech’s inactivated intranasal influenza vaccine was discontinued in Switzerland after it was found to be associated with increased risk of Bell’s Palsy.

Still, because oral vaccination tends to produce an antibody response that is not so strong in the respiratory tract, Russell contends that intranasal immunization “makes the most sense” for a respiratory pathogen like SARS-CoV-2.

“If similar resources can be made available for the accelerated development of intranasal vaccines, as have been deployed for the existing vaccines, my guess is that we might see some of them becoming available within about a year,” he said.

capsimmunesystem.org