Give your family and immune system boost with these foods

Give your family and immune system boost with these foods

  • October 21, 2020

Are you looking for simple ways to boost your family’s immune system? Take a walk to the fridge… Certain fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and a handful of herbs and spices are known for their immune-boosting powers. The good news is that these foods are easy to find and won’t cost you an arm or a leg! In fact, you probably already have a few of them in your fridge.

Here are a few food types you can add to meals to improve your family’s health:  

Citrus fruits

Many people turn to vitamin C after they caught a cold, or if they think they’re on the verge of catching one. This is because citrus helps to build your immune system. vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells and improve the health of tissues, which are key to fighting infections. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, and with such a variety to choose from, it is easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

Popular citrus fruits include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes

Because your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C, you need to actively ensure that you get your daily dosage for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is:

  • 75 mg for women
  • 90 mg for men

Kiwi

Kiwis are naturally full of multiple essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwis’ other nutrients assist with general body functions.

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers contain almost 3 times more vitamin C (127mg) than most other fruit per gram. They are also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C may help you maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fibre and many other antioxidants, it’s one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your plate.

Garlic

Early civilizations recognised garlic’s value in fighting infections. Garlic may also contribute to slowing down atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, and some evidence suggests that it can assist in lowering blood pressure – this should however not replace any prescribed medications for hypertension. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

Ginger

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses.

Spinach

Spinach is not only rich in Vitamin C, but it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, both of which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.

Almonds

Almonds contain a high amount of vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are fully packed with vitamin E and contain healthy fats. Adults only need about 15mg of vitamin E each day. A half-cup serving of almonds, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides close to 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.

Turmeric This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. High concentrations of curcumin can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and is an immune booster and an antiviral spice.

Green tea

Green tea is packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant, which has shown to enhance immune function. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells, an essential part of your defence system.

Liquorice

Liquorice contains many beneficial substances, including glycyrrhizin, which may help protect against viral infections. It contains B vitamins, including B12 and B6 – which are all important for a healthy immune response. Many adults are deficient in these B vitamins, which may negatively affect immune health.

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World food day: Healthy food habits to armor our immune system in the changing weather

  • October 16, 2020
Key soldiers in the fight include vitamins like A, C, E, B6, D, and minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium that help maintain a strong immune system and they are also antioxidants. (Representational image: IE)

By Namit Tyagi

The Autumn season has just begun in the country and we all are starting to fall a little sick with the common symptoms of cold and cough. Most grown-ups face such common symptoms twice a year whereas in children it is observed to be around 5-6 times. Everytime the weather changes, the count of allergens in the air also spikes up to nearly 200 viruses. The most common virus is Human Rhinovirus (HRV) that causes 40% of all colds. Thus these are mild viruses and can be eliminated easily from our body by following few precautionary measures.

To keep your immune system strong this season, adapt certain dietary habits and enjoy the festive season without any hurdle:

Eat more citrus fruits and vegetables – Citrus fruits are an amazing source of Vitamin-C. It strengthens our immunity system and keeps our skin smooth and elastic. Citrus fruits are also rich in Vitamin-B nutrients, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium as well. For their antioxidants properties, add them in their mid-morning or evening snack in the form of either salad or juice. Infact, having an orange a day is sufficient enough to fulfill all our Vitamin-C requirements.

Make sure you eat enough protein – Protein helps our body in infinite ways. From muscular development to improving digestion. It is an important compound required in blood oxygenation which is then carried in all over the body. Add protein in your every meal in an adequate amount to fulfill your protein requirements thus help your body produce antibodies to boost immunity. The sources of protein include lentils, egg whites, quinoa,soya, broccoli and other dairy & poultry products.

Don’t overlook prebiotic foods – Add prebiotic sources in your meal or smoothies. Prebiotics are found in foods such as onion, garlic, banana, and curd. They assist in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which is a vital player in how your immune system functions. Prebiotics work by increasing the population of good bacteria in the gut which in turn sparks the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are tiny proteins that help the immune system function.

Get enough vitamins through your diet – Key soldiers in the fight include vitamins like A, C, E, B6, D, and minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium that help maintain a strong immune system and they are also antioxidants. Some foods that are rich in these vitamins include carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, almonds, avocados, salmon, oysters, tuna, and lean chicken breast. Enjoy adding them to your regular meals, evening or morning salads and smoothies.

Add Herbs and spices in your diet – Turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, Tulsi, Giloy, ashwagandha, Mulethi are ayurvedically known for boosting immunity, you can enjoy them as kadha or tea in the early morning or evening. You can add ashwagandha powder or tablet with milk at night or post-dinner to have sound sleep because sound sleep helps in boosting your immune health.

Thus, adding on a few basic ingredients from our kitchen in our dietary routine and swapping junk evening snacks with a bowl of fruits and sprouts could make a big difference in terms of health and energy levels in our body.

(The author is Co-Founder & Head Nutritionist, Neuherbs & Neusafe India. Views expressed are personal.)

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Coronavirus: Can vitamin D really ensure protection against the deadly virus?

Coronavirus: Can vitamin D really ensure protection against the deadly virus?

  • October 16, 2020
According to a recent report by BBC news, scientists have been looking for volunteers to take part in a new trial test that will determine the role of vitamin D in fighting against Covid-19. The trial is led by a group of researchers from Queen Mary University of London and is funded by Barts Charity.

As against the process of developing a vaccine to stop the infection, this new trial will delve deeper into strengthening people’s immune system and improving their health. People who will be participating in the trial will be given a higher dose of Vitamin D than regular supplements, so as to see if there is any visible difference, as per reports.

While vitamin D has remained an important source of nutrient for our body as well as the immune system, it is only proper to first understand how it affects our immune system and whether or not it boosts our health conditions.

The relationship between Vitamin D and the immune system


Our immune system the line of defense that secures our body from possible infection and diseases. However, in order to be able to protect the body and activate its defenses, it must first seek the support of healthy nutrients, especially Vitamin D. With the help of its anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, Vitamin D ensures the enhancement of immune cells that fight deadly pathogens.

That being said, low level of Vitamin D and vitamin deficiency can be associated with greater risk of acquiring diseases, infections and respiratory problems, which is why Vitamin D becomes extremely crucial for our health.

Can Vitamin D really fight the battle against Covid-19?


Well, there is no standard cure for the deadly virus yet and while each and every one of us has been taking precautions and maintaining social distancing, there have been few studies that have investigated the effect of vitamin D supplements or vitamin D deficiency on the risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

Reportedly, Vitamin D deficiency is more common in elderly people, among those who are overweight, black and Asian – groups that are at a higher risk of contracting the Covid-19 infection.

Therefore, while nothing has been determined at this stage, the new trial test seems to be a ray of hope for many. According to the Principal investigator David Jolliffe, the trial “has the potential to give a definitive answer” to whether vitamin D offers protection against Covid-19. “Vitamin D supplements are low in cost, low in risk and widely accessible; if proven effective, they could significantly aid in our global fight against the virus,” he adds.

Coronavirus reinfections are real but also very, very rare. Here's what you should know

Coronavirus reinfections are real but also very, very rare. Here’s what you should know

  • October 14, 2020
By Apoorva Mandavilli


Reports of reinfection with the coronavirus evoke a nightmarish future: Repeat bouts of illness, impotent vaccines, unrelenting lockdowns — a pandemic without an end.

A case study published Monday, about a 25-year-old man in Nevada, has stoked those fears anew. The man, who was not named, became sicker the second time that he was infected with the virus, a pattern the immune system is supposed to prevent.

But these cases make the news precisely because they are rare, experts said: More than 38 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, and as of Monday, fewer than five of those cases have been confirmed by scientists to be reinfections.

“That’s tiny — it’s like a microliter-sized drop in the bucket, compared to the number of cases that have happened all over the world,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York.

In most cases, a second bout with the virus produced milder symptoms or none at all. But for at least three people, including one patient in Ecuador, the illness was more severe the second time around than during the first infection. An 89-year-old woman in the Netherlands died during her second illness.

Rare as these cases may be, they do indicate that reinfection is possible, said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University, who wrote a commentary accompanying the Nevada case study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“It’s important to note that there are people who do get reinfected, and in some of those cases you get worse disease,” Iwasaki said. “You still need to keep wearing masks and practice social distancing even if you have recovered once from this infection.”

We asked experts what is known about reinfections with the coronavirus, and what the phenomenon means for vaccinations and the course of the pandemic.

Reinfection with the coronavirus is an unusual event.

First, the good news: Reinfection seems to be vanishingly rare.

Since the first confirmed case of reinfection, reported in Hong Kong on Aug. 24, there have been three published cases; reports of another 20 await scientific review.

But it is impossible to know exactly how widespread the phenomenon is. To confirm a case of reinfection, scientists must look for significant differences in the genes of the two coronaviruses causing both illnesses.

In the United States, where testing was a rare resource much of this year, many people were not tested unless they were sick enough to be hospitalized. Even then, their samples were usually not preserved for genetic analysis, making it impossible to confirm suspected reinfections.

A vast majority of people who do get reinfected may go undetected. For example, the man in Hong Kong had no symptoms the second time, and his infection was discovered only because of routine screening at the airport.

“There are a lot of people that are going to also have been exposed that aren’t having symptoms, that we’re never going to hear about,” said Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

People whose second infections are more severe are more likely to be identified, because they return to the hospital. But those are likely to be even rarer, experts said.

“If this was a very common event, we would have seen thousands of cases,” Iwasaki said.

In most people, the immune system works as expected.

Reinfections can occur for any number of reasons: because the initial infection was too mild to produce an immune response, for example, or because the immune system was compromised by other health conditions. On occasion, a patient may be exposed to a large amount of virus that seeded an infection before the immune response could respond.

This variability is entirely expected, experts said, and has been observed in patients with diseases like measles and malaria.

“You’ll never have the distribution of anything with millions of people where you don’t have some very severe rare cases happening at the fringe,” said Dr. Michael Mina, a pediatric immunologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

At least two of the reinfected patients in Europe had compromised immune systems, for example, and the 89-year-old woman who died was receiving chemotherapy. In other reinfected patients, genetic factors or the lack of certain previous immune exposures may have blunted the body’s ability to fight off a second attack.

“There are some people who just don’t develop good immune responses to certain pathogens,” said Florian Krammer, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “What is causing that? We’re not sure, but it’s rare, usually.”

In a vast majority of known infected patients, experts said, the immune system functions as it should against other pathogens.

“There are a lot of different infections where you can get reexposed to the virus, and we would probably not know because you don’t have symptoms,” Pepper said. “And that might be an important part of boosting immunity.”

When the body is exposed to an unfamiliar virus, it is normal first to develop some immunity and then to increase that response with each additional exposure. This phenomenon is well known among children, but it is less often seen in adults because they rarely encounter new viruses, Mina said.

“I think it’s important to recognize that reinfections are literally embedded in the evolution of our immune system,” he added. “We sometimes lose track of that with so many people talking about this who really haven’t studied the immune system.”

A resurgence of symptoms doesn’t prove reinfection.

For every confirmed case of reinfection, there are dozens of anecdotal reports of infected people who were sick and seemingly recovered but then became ill again weeks to months later.

Usually there are crucial data missing in those cases, like a confirmed lab diagnosis, or a virus sample that can be sequenced.

“The question is always, Is it a real reinfection?” Krammer said. “It’s very often very challenging to kind of get that kind of data.”

A vast majority of these cases are unlikely to be true infections. More likely, these are people experiencing a resurgence of symptoms connected to the original infection. The virus may set off an inflammatory response that can flare up even weeks later and cause symptoms like fatigue and heart problems. In rare cases, some patients may develop a chronic low-grade infection with the virus that never quite goes away.

“Even with viruses that can cause acute infections, like flu,” Krammer said, “you can have persistent infections if your immune system is sufficiently compromised.”

Although these are not real reinfections, they are still worrying if they lead to renewed illness or hospitalization months after the initial infection, Rasmussen said. “If there’s recrudescence happening frequently, and people are getting severely ill the second time around, that’s potentially its own problem,” she said.

People with a second bout may pass the virus to others.

Reinfected people without symptoms may still transmit the virus to others. The patient in Hong Kong, for example, was isolated in a hospital even though he had no symptoms. But his viral load was high enough that he could have passed the virus to others.

“Obviously, that person wasn’t ill, so it bodes well for him, but it doesn’t bode well for the community,” Pepper said.

But to be sure of infectiousness, researchers may need to look for live virus. South Korean researchers investigated hundreds of reports of reinfection and were able to rule them out as real cases after failing to grow infectious virus from the samples.

Similar procedures would be needed to rule out the possibility of transmission in each patient, Rasmussen said, adding, “I think that’s the only way you’d be able to get to the bottom of that.”

Vaccines may be crucial to preventing reinfections.

Reports of reinfection have raised concerns about whether vaccines for the coronavirus will be effective and help communities achieve population immunity. The worry is that the immunity produced by vaccines will not be sufficient in preventing reinfections with the virus.

In reality, experts said, vaccines have a better chance at generating robust immunity than does natural infection with the virus.

For example, the coronavirus is particularly adept at dodging the body’s early immune alarms, buying valuable time to seed an infection. In some people, this lag eventually triggers a cascading immune overreaction that can be more harmful than the infection itself.

Vaccines are intended to unfurl an immune response without interference from the virus, and thus may avoid this inflammatory sequence. Vaccines can also be manipulated to enhance immune memory, in that way producing more lasting, more protective responses.

Vaccine trials are designed to look for an absence of disease, rather than of infection, and it’s unclear whether vaccines can suppress virus levels enough to prevent transmission to others.

Still, vaccine-induced immunity should perform better than natural immunity, Rasmussen said, adding, “I’m optimistic.”

COVID-19 reinfections are real, but extremely rare; most immune systems fight off repeat infection- Technology News, Firstpost

COVID-19 reinfections are real, but extremely rare; most immune systems fight off repeat infection- Technology News, Firstpost

  • October 14, 2020

Reports of reinfection with the coronavirus evoke a nightmarish future: Repeat bouts of illness, impotent vaccines, unrelenting lockdowns — a pandemic without an end. A case study published Monday, about a 25-year-old man in Nevada, has stoked those fears anew. The man, who was not named, became sicker the second time that he was infected with the virus, a pattern the immune system is supposed to prevent.

But these cases make the news precisely because they are rare, experts said: More than 38 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, and as of Monday, fewer than five of those cases have been confirmed by scientists to be reinfections.

“That’s tiny — it’s like a microliter-sized drop in the bucket, compared to the number of cases that have happened all over the world,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York.

In most cases, a second bout with the virus produced milder symptoms or none at all. But for at least three people, including one patient in Ecuador, the illness was more severe the second time around than during the first infection. An 89-year-old woman in the Netherlands died during her second illness.

Rare as these cases may be, they do indicate that reinfection is possible, said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University, who wrote a commentary accompanying the Nevada case study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“It’s important to note that there are people who do get reinfected, and in some of those cases you get worse disease,” Iwasaki said. “You still need to keep wearing masks and practice social distancing even if you have recovered once from this infection.”

We asked experts what is known about reinfections with the coronavirus, and what the phenomenon means for vaccinations and the course of the pandemic.

Reinfection with the coronavirus is an unusual event.

First, the good news: Reinfection seems to be vanishingly rare.

Since the first confirmed case of reinfection, reported in Hong Kong on Aug. 24, there have been three published cases; reports of another 20 await scientific review.

But it is impossible to know exactly how widespread the phenomenon is. To confirm a case of reinfection, scientists must look for significant differences in the genes of the two coronaviruses causing both illnesses.

In the United States, where testing was a rare resource much of this year, many people were not tested unless they were sick enough to be hospitalized. Even then, their samples were usually not preserved for genetic analysis, making it impossible to confirm suspected reinfections.

A vast majority of people who do get reinfected may go undetected. For example, the man in Hong Kong had no symptoms the second time, and his infection was discovered only because of routine screening at the airport.

“There are a lot of people that are going to also have been exposed that aren’t having symptoms, that we’re never going to hear about,” said Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

People whose second infections are more severe are more likely to be identified, because they return to the hospital. But those are likely to be even rarer, experts said.

“If this was a very common event, we would have seen thousands of cases,” Iwasaki said.

In most people, the immune system works as expected.

 COVID-19 reinfections are real, but extremely rare; most immune systems fight off repeat infection

Survivors of COVID-19 who spent time on a ventilator may be at risk of long-term disability and illness. Image: Newscom/AP

Reinfections can occur for any number of reasons: because the initial infection was too mild to produce an immune response, for example, or because the immune system was compromised by other health conditions. On occasion, a patient may be exposed to a large amount of virus that seeded an infection before the immune response could respond.

This variability is entirely expected, experts said, and has been observed in patients with diseases like measles and malaria.

“You’ll never have the distribution of anything with millions of people where you don’t have some very severe rare cases happening at the fringe,” said Dr. Michael Mina, a pediatric immunologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

At least two of the reinfected patients in Europe had compromised immune systems, for example, and the 89-year-old woman who died was receiving chemotherapy. In other reinfected patients, genetic factors or the lack of certain previous immune exposures may have blunted the body’s ability to fight off a second attack.

“There are some people who just don’t develop good immune responses to certain pathogens,” said Florian Krammer, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “What is causing that? We’re not sure, but it’s rare, usually.”

In a vast majority of known infected patients, experts said, the immune system functions as it should against other pathogens.

“There are a lot of different infections where you can get reexposed to the virus, and we would probably not know because you don’t have symptoms,” Pepper said. “And that might be an important part of boosting immunity.”

When the body is exposed to an unfamiliar virus, it is normal first to develop some immunity and then to increase that response with each additional exposure. This phenomenon is well known among children, but it is less often seen in adults because they rarely encounter new viruses, Mina said.

“I think it’s important to recognize that reinfections are literally embedded in the evolution of our immune system,” he added. “We sometimes lose track of that with so many people talking about this who really haven’t studied the immune system.”

A resurgence of symptoms doesn’t prove reinfection.

For every confirmed case of reinfection, there are dozens of anecdotal reports of infected people who were sick and seemingly recovered but then became ill again weeks to months later.

They don't run a fever. They don't cough or feel short of breath but they do shed virus like symptomatic people do. Image: UN COVID-19 response/Unsplash

They don’t run a fever. They don’t cough or feel short of breath but they do shed virus like symptomatic people do. Image: UN COVID-19 response/Unsplash

Usually there are crucial data missing in those cases, like a confirmed lab diagnosis, or a virus sample that can be sequenced.

“The question is always, Is it a real reinfection?” Krammer said. “It’s very often very challenging to kind of get that kind of data.”

A vast majority of these cases are unlikely to be true infections. More likely, these are people experiencing a resurgence of symptoms connected to the original infection. The virus may set off an inflammatory response that can flare up even weeks later and cause symptoms like fatigue and heart problems. In rare cases, some patients may develop a chronic low-grade infection with the virus that never quite goes away.

“Even with viruses that can cause acute infections, like flu,” Krammer said, “you can have persistent infections if your immune system is sufficiently compromised.”

Although these are not real reinfections, they are still worrying if they lead to renewed illness or hospitalization months after the initial infection, Rasmussen said. “If there’s recrudescence happening frequently, and people are getting severely ill the second time around, that’s potentially its own problem,” she said.

People with a second bout may pass the virus to others.

Reinfected people without symptoms may still transmit the virus to others. The patient in Hong Kong, for example, was isolated in a hospital even though he had no symptoms. But his viral load was high enough that he could have passed the virus to others.

“Obviously, that person wasn’t ill, so it bodes well for him, but it doesn’t bode well for the community,” Pepper said.

But to be sure of infectiousness, researchers may need to look for live virus. South Korean researchers investigated hundreds of reports of reinfection and were able to rule them out as real cases after failing to grow infectious virus from the samples.

Similar procedures would be needed to rule out the possibility of transmission in each patient, Rasmussen said, adding, “I think that’s the only way you’d be able to get to the bottom of that.”

Vaccines may be crucial to preventing reinfections.

Reports of reinfection have raised concerns about whether vaccines for the coronavirus will be effective and help communities achieve population immunity. The worry is that the immunity produced by vaccines will not be sufficient in preventing reinfections with the virus.

In reality, experts said, vaccines have a better chance at generating robust immunity than does natural infection with the virus.

For example, the coronavirus is particularly adept at dodging the body’s early immune alarms, buying valuable time to seed an infection. In some people, this lag eventually triggers a cascading immune overreaction that can be more harmful than the infection itself.

Vaccines are intended to unfurl an immune response without interference from the virus, and thus may avoid this inflammatory sequence. Vaccines can also be manipulated to enhance immune memory, in that way producing more lasting, more protective responses.

Vaccine trials are designed to look for an absence of disease, rather than of infection, and it’s unclear whether vaccines can suppress virus levels enough to prevent transmission to others.

Still, vaccine-induced immunity should perform better than natural immunity, Rasmussen said, adding, “I’m optimistic.”

Apoorva Mandavilli. c.2020 The New York Times Company

Bioengineering technique that boosts protein production could lead to effective COVID-19 vaccine

Researchers create multi-functional nano-vaccine to prevent toxoplasmosis

  • October 14, 2020

Fighting clever parasites requires smart vaccines that can trigger critical immune responses. A University of Chicago-based research team has found a novel way to do that.

These experts, specialists in toxoplasmosis and leaders in vaccine design, have focused on one of the most frequent parasitic infections of humans.

The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, can cause lifelong infection. It lives in the brain (and sometimes the eyes) of about 30 percent of all humans. When someone drinks contaminated water, eats infected undercooked meat or is exposed to these parasites in soil, it can result in lasting damage.

Infection from unrecognized exposure to this microscopic parasite can harm the eyes, damage the brain and, in some cases, lead to death. Toxoplasmosis, according to the CDC, is the second most frequent cause of foodborne-associated death in the United States.

These parasites tend to attack unborn babies, newborns, children and adults. While most healthy adults who are exposed to the parasite never experience any serious symptoms, dormant, unrecognized, smoldering infections can emerge years later in immune-compromised patients. There is currently no vaccine to protect people from this infection.

“We urgently need a vaccine, as well as new and better medicines, to prevent and treat this infection,” said the study’s senior author, Rima McLeod, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Pediatrics at University of Chicago and a leading authority on toxoplasmosis.

“Millions of people suffer from these infections,” McLeod said. These neglected infections are often detected too late to prevent irreversible damage, and some patients die if the infection is untreated. Until now, no vaccine has been available for humans and no known medicine in clinical use has been able to eliminate the chronic, encysted form of Toxoplasma.

In an article published in the journal Scientific Reports (Nature), the research team unveiled a clever “immunosense” approach – the use of Self-Assembling Protein Nanoparticles (SAPNs). These have been engineered to boost each component of the immune system.

The goal is to protect humans from this common, harmful and sometimes lethal parasite.”Engineering and characterization of a novel Self Assembling Protein for Toxoplasma peptide vaccine in HLA-A*11:01, HLA-A*02:01 and HLA-B*07:02 transgenic mice” was published online on October 12, 2020.

The team used cell-based and murine models. These mouse models have human immune-response genes to mimic how people can fight the infection. The SAPN scaffold serves as a stimulus, boosting the innate immune response and delivering components of the vaccine to relevant target cells.

“Especially important,” McLeod said, “these novel SAPNs have been engineered to have the size, shape and ability to produce immune responses against Toxoplasma gondii. This triggers a protective effect.”

The team’s approach has been quickly adopted by other investigators. There is ongoing work to immunize against herpetic eye disease, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID19), HIV, malaria and influenza viruses.

The researchers found that their SAPN scaffold can fold reliably into a stable shape. As the immune system perceives it as a foreign invader stimulating a protective immune response, the scaffold can incorporate components that stimulate an immune response against the genetic variants of the parasite.

This can be tailored for people of differing genetic backgrounds. The vaccine becomes a multisystem targeting weapon. The researchers named their new weapon “ToxAll.” They describe it as a “multi-epitope, multi-functional, toxoplasmosis nano-vaccine.”

It contains crucial immunity-stimulating components, mixed with an adjuvant, known as GLA-SE, that appears to be powerful and safe in humans. This type of vaccine, with components from plasmodia, has already been tested in primates for malaria, and is moving into the clinic.

Prior infections with T.gondii before pregnancy can protect a pregnant woman from passing the infection to her unborn child. But when a mother first acquires the infection during pregnancy – before her body can mount an immune response – the parasite can cause significant harm to the unborn child.

The investigators first created a live, attenuated vaccine that can protect mice against toxoplasmosis. Prior natural infection of humans can confer protection, and live vaccines could protect mice. These live vaccines, however, can have safety concerns.

ToxAll was created as a synthetic vaccine that could stimulate danger signals, alerting the immune system to focus on foreign invaders. A crucial part of the process is to create a design with the right properties, assembling particles into predictable shapes that resemble viruses, then enabling the fragments of components of the parasite to educate the “adaptive memory” of the immune system. This creates a long-lasting immune response, including antibodies and protective T lymphocytes.

Protection with the full SAPN, at this point, is not yet available, “but is under development with promising results,” McLeod said. The team is working to expand the use of additional fragments of the parasite. They hope to create a next generation vaccine that could provide lasting immunity against toxoplasmosis – one that could offer a novel, safe, synthetic vaccine to prevent this disease.

The next step is to develop vaccines as part of a “toolbox” that also includes new medicines and novel use of older medicines for prevention and treatment of toxoplasmosis. The team has applied their clinical and laboratory experiences to understand the infection and devise ways to prevent it, using immunology, genetics, bioinformatics and systems biology to develop and enhance the vaccine and make certain it can help humans worldwide.

We now think we are reaching the next stage. Our toolbox could be developed to prevent and treat human T. gondii and P. falciparum infections. This approach for vaccines can generate innate immunity, cell-mediated adaptive immunity, and host-neutralizing antibodies that are critical to protect against different pathogens.”


Rima McLeod, MD, Study Senior Author and Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Pediatrics, Leading Authority on Toxoplasmosis, University of Chicago

Source:

Journal reference:

Bissati, K. E., et al. (2020) Engineering and characterization of a novel Self Assembling Protein for Toxoplasma peptide vaccine in HLA-A*11:01, HLA-A*02:01 and HLA-B*07:02 transgenic mice. Scientific Reports. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73210-0.

Pre-existing immunity to other coronaviruses may be poor

Pre-existing immunity to other coronaviruses may be poor

  • October 14, 2020

In severe coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) cases, higher antibody titers against seasonal coronaviruses are found compared to low amounts in mild cases. The possibility of COVID-19 to be an immune-mediated disease can not be ruled out. Based on the observations on its infection history, and the resulting immunological background against seasonal coronaviruses (CoV), an insight into the type-specific and cross-reactive antigenicity are essential.

Brenda M. Westerhuis et al., in a recent medRxiv* preprint paper, investigate the antibody cross-reactivity – to explain the severe disease. COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Study: Severe COVID-19 patients display a back boost of seasonal coronavirus-specific antibodies. Image Credit: Corona Borealis Studio / Shutterstock

The researchers determine the kinetics, breadth, magnitude and level of cross-reactivity of IgG against SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal CoV nucleocapsid and spike from severe COVID-19 cases at the clonal level.

They find that in addition to a type-specific SARS-CoV-2 response, seasonal CoV dominated B cell clones are present that increase over a period.

Pre-existing immunity to related viruses with the same antigenicity generally determined the outcome of the infection. For example, in cases of influenza or dengue, the host exhibited dominance over subsequent infections due to the memory of the previous infection. This mechanism is termed “original antigenic sin” (OAS) – the propensity of adaptive immunity to fight pathogens based on memory recall preferentially. This may also affect the clones, primed to target a specific epitope, to dominate the response to target a new but slightly different cross-reactive epitope, thus causing poor immunity and neutralization of infection.

Now, structural homology between the ectodomain of SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S, SARS2-SECTO) or nucleocapsid protein (N, SARS2-N), is found with those of other endemic human seasonal CoV such as hCoV-229E, -NL63, -HKU1 and -OC43 or recent epidemic strains such as SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This suggests that memory B-cells capable of expressing cross-reactive antibodies pre-exist in patients. High sequence homology is found towards SARS-CoV-2 in SARS-CoV infected individuals, while homology between SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal CoV is lower. Yet CoV is prevalent. Repeated exposure to seasonal CoV may lead to developing a SARS-CoV-2 response.

This study highlights the body’s back boost of poorly protective coronavirus-specific antibodies in severe COVID-19 patients – this might impact the SARS-CoV-2 specific immune response. The detailed insights in kinetics and cross-reactivity patterns of N and S reactive IgG, in this study, helps to understand the humoral immune system response towards a novel CoV.

The cohort in this study included 17 patients with the severe COVID-19 disease, out of which six succumbed to, and five recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

While it is known that severe COVID-19 patients generate a strong SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG response, they also display an increasing IgG response towards other coronaviruses (seasonal CoV N and S antigens). The IgG responses against these viruses appear correlated by undefined mechanisms.

The supernatants of the in vitro stimulated B-cells also showed clonal IgG cross-reactivity patterns towards different coronavirus strains. B-cells were isolated from peripheral blood samples of a representative donor.

These observations in this study suggest that high antibody titers to seasonal CoV may be associated with poor disease outcome in COVID-19 patients. There was no IgG cross-reactivity observed towards SARS-CoV-2 in healthy controls.

Also, the further combined analysis of reactive clones from all the donors showed cross-reactivity patterns between human seasonal and emerging coronaviruses, reaffirming the previous observations.

Overall, this study suggests that cross-reactivity towards SARS-CoV-2 has a minor contribution to the outgrowth of clones targeting seasonal CoV.

It is shown that infection or vaccination induced a broad increase in titers towards preceding viruses. Based on the antigenic distance, it is calculated that the back boost extended beyond cross-reactivity.

The pre-existing CoV-specific B-cells and the presence of cross-neutralizing antibodies is a double-edged sword: it may aid in a quick viral clearance from memory recall compared to initiating a primary humoral response or it may also promote pathology.

This study expands the understanding of how the humoral immune system responds towards a novel CoV, specifically in the context of a CoV experienced immune system. This study emphasizes the importance of the immunological background of individuals – to assess the quality and quantity of a newly initiated response towards SARS-CoV-2. It may have strong implications for vaccine design and the response to infection.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:

  • Severe COVID-19 patients display a back boost of seasonal coronavirus-specific antibodies, Brenda M. Westerhuis, Muriel Aguilar-Bretones, Matthijs P. Raadsen, Erwin de Bruin, Nisreen M.A. Okba, Bart L. Haagmans, Thomas Langerak, Henrik Endeman, Johannes P.C. van den Akker, Diederik A.M.P.J. Gommers, Eric C.M. van Gorp, Barry H.G. Rockx, Marion P.G. Koopmans, Gijsbert P. van Nierop, medRxiv 2020.10.10.20210070; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.10.20210070
Combination therapy boosts the immune system's appetite for cancer

Cancer-killing T cells release chemicals to direct swarms towards tumors

  • October 14, 2020

When immune system T cells find and recognize a target, they release chemicals to attract more T cells which then swarm to help subdue the threat, shows a new study published today in eLife.

The discovery of this swarming behavior, and the chemical attractants that immune cells use to direct swarms towards tumors, could one day help scientists develop new cancer therapies that boost the immune system. This is particularly important for solid tumors, which so far have been less responsive to current immunotherapies than cancers affecting blood cells.

Scientists have previously thought that cancer-killing T cells identified tumors by randomly searching for them or by following the chemical trails laid by other intermediary immune cells. We wanted to investigate this further to see if it’s true, or whether T cells locate tumours via another mechanism.”


Jorge Luis Galeano Niño, lead author, PhD graduate at UNSW Sydney

Using 3D tumor models grown in the laboratory and in mouse models, the team showed that cancer-killing T cells can home-in on tumor cells independently of intermediary immune cells. When the T cells find and recognise a tumor, they release chemical signals, which then attract more T cells that sense the signals through a receptor called CCR5, and cause a swarm. “These cells coordinate their migration in a process reminiscent of the swarming observed in some insects and another type of immune cell called neutrophils, which help the body respond to injury and pathogens,” Galeano Niño says.

After confirming their results using computer modelling, the team genetically engineered human cells called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells and showed they also swarm toward a 3D glioblastoma tumor grown in the laboratory.

CAR-T cells are currently being used to treat certain types of blood cancer. But the new findings suggest that it might also be possible to train these cells to attack solid tumors.

“Although this is fundamental research and at an early stage, the swarming mechanism could be exploited in the future to target CAR-T cells to solid tumors, potentially leading to enhanced immunotherapies that are more effective at infiltrating and destroying these types of tumors,” says senior author Maté Biro, EMBL Australia Group Leader at the Single Molecule Science node, UNSW.

“It will also be important to determine whether silencing the swarming mechanism could be beneficial in dampening overzealous T-cell responses following transplant surgery, in autoimmune conditions, or associated with viral infections,” he adds.

Source:

Journal reference:

Galeano Niño, J.L., et al. (2020) Cytotoxic T Cells swarm by homotypic chemokine signalling. eLife. doi.org/10.7554/eLife.56554.

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Regular Mineral Water Vs Black Alkaline Water; What’s the difference? Check details

  • October 12, 2020
The minerals present in the black alkaline water help in the effective breakdown of the various nutrients present in the food we consume.

By Aakash Vaghela

The current scenario, where the entire world is fighting a pandemic, has seen ‘immunity’ becoming the new buzzword. Undoubtedly, a strong immune system is essential to fight any infection or flu that tries to invade our body. There is a paradigm shift where people are seen talking about the benefits of consuming a healthy diet that includes essential superfoods and supplements,along with emphasising the importance of exercising regularly to boost one’s immunity. What has completely missed our attention is the most vital component of our body, water. Water consumption, which makes 60% of a human adult body, is paid the least attention.

People in general lack awareness of the fact that the water they drink daily is not fit for consumption. They are comfortable with a simple RO system but are unaware that it drains the water of many nutrients crucial for the body. It lowers the pH value of the water we drink, making it acidic, corrosive, bitter in taste, which is hard for the body to absorb. Alkaline water is one of the significant steps that one can take towards boosting the immune system.

How can Alkaline Water boost immunity?

Alkaline water is something that has been ionized and hence has a higher pH level of about 8 or 9 compared to a pH value of 7 found in regular tap water. It neutralizes the acidic content in the body, thereby, preventing a number of ailments and chronic diseases from attacking it.

Alkaline water that has several benefits, is easily absorbed by the human body and helps to let it stay hydrated for a long time. It improves the functioning of the circulatory system that increases the amount of oxygen carried by the blood to vital organs. Alkaline water is infused with a variety of minerals, including calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and other trace elements that play an important role in improving the immune system. It also prevents the growth of free radicals in the body, which slows down the ageing process. Drinking alkaline water is also beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

According to a study published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, alkaline water is known to increase longevity and improve the survival functions of the body. Another study published in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine states that regular consumption of alkaline water reduces the chances of osteoporosis and protects the pancreatic beta cells. Another study that was published in the Public Library of Science shows that drinking alkaline water enhances hydration, improves the body’s acid-base balance and the anaerobic exercise performance of the body.

Why Black Alkaline Water worth consuming?

Recently launched in India, EvocusBlack Alkaline Water is infused with over 70+ natural trace elements that are sourced from deep within the earth’s crust in Texas, USA. The natural black color of the water is due to the infusion of these trace elements. It offers optimum hydration, detoxifies it, and improves the body’s metabolism.

Health Benefits of Black Alkaline Water

Black Alkaline water has a pH value of more than 8.5 compared to regular mineral water. It is infused with more than 70 minerals naturally occurring, thereby making it an organic solution for promoting health and well-being.

Due to its high ph and more than 70+ natural minerals Black Alkaline water is a great detox drink that helps to flush out toxins from our body, provides Sustained hydration, reduces acidity, and boosts Immunity.

Black alkaline water is also abundant in the amount of oxygen dissolved in it. This helps the human body by increasing the rate of metabolism,which converts calories in to energy.

Like any other alkaline water, black alkaline water also helps in balancing the acidity in the body. This further helps in restoring bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Its balancing property makes it an excellent cure for the hangover. This means, if you have over-consumed alcohol, then drinking black alkaline water effectively restores the body’s natural balance and gets out of the hangover mode. Alsoit is a great experience to mix Alcohol with Black Alkaline Water, especially whisky or Vodka with it.

The minerals present in the black alkaline water help in the effective breakdown of the various nutrients present in the food we consume. This ensures that our body actively absorbs all the goodness of the food we eat, further leaving us with a strong and robust immune system.It is also a well-known reliever of the heartburns or gastroesophageal reflux due to its alkaline nature.

That said, it is clear that the consumption of black alkaline water promotes a healthy mind and body in the long run, which is better capable of fighting diseases and any potential virus.

(The author is Co-founder, AV Organics (Evocus H2O). Views expressed are personal.)

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A New Formula to Help Boost Your Immune System this Flu Season

A New Formula to Help Boost Your Immune System this Flu Season

  • October 9, 2020

As we enter flu and cold season many of us are looking for some help with supporting our immune systems. GSH+ is a brand new optimal immune therapy formula that can do just that. It’s an essential component to the body’s natural defense system, and acts as an antioxidant. The formula contains a powerful new ingredient called NACET which increases the production of the Master Antioxidant Glutathione.

This breakthrough ingredient increases the absorption of vital nutrients to combat harmful free radicals to optimize your immune system. GSH+ may help, support, boost, or promote the following: Respiratory function, promotes intracellular immune function, supports cognitive function, helps boost the immune system to fight bacteria, viruses and pathogens, and an elevated sense of well being, We are joined by Darcy and Corinne Cavanaugh, Founders of Salvation Nutraceuticals, to learn more about this super immune system booster.

Visit salvationnutra.com to grab yours today!

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