Mixing COVID vaccines could result in stronger immune response

Mixing COVID vaccines could result in stronger immune response

  • July 28, 2021


News


New research suggests mixing one dose of AstraZeneca with either Pfizer or Moderna could be beneficial. Is it something Australia should consider?

Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
New research has suggested mixing COVID vaccines could induce a stronger immune response than two doses of the same candidate. (Image: AAP)

The study conducted in Germany and published in Nature Medicine involved 216 volunteers. Fifty-five received two doses of AstraZeneca’s viral vector vaccine, 64 received two doses of an mRNA vaccine, and 97 received a combination of one AstraZeneca dose and an mRNA booster shot.

 

The findings revealed that one shot of AstraZeneca followed by a shot of either Pfizer or Moderna resulted in a stronger immune response than having two doses of AstraZeneca.

 

The study also found that the combination gave an equally strong, or stronger, immune response than two doses of an mRNA vaccine.

 

The findings are consistent with other similar studies, including Oxford University’s Com-COV trial. Involving more than 800 volunteers, it found those who received a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer generated a strong immune response against the virus.

 

However, the order of vaccines made a difference, with AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer ‘inducing higher antibodies and T-cell responses than Pfizer followed by AstraZeneca’.

 

Professor Dale Godfrey, Immunology Theme Leader at the Doherty Institute, told newsGP there are several other studies investigating the heterologous approach, due in part to AstraZeneca’s slightly weaker efficacy, as well as concerns around thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

 

While it is not yet clear why the combination induces a greater immune response, he says there is some speculation.

 

‘One of the potential concerns with AstraZeneca, and it’s the same for the other vector vaccines, is that they have a viral vector that’s an adenovirus vector. So, basically, they put a part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the spike – into a different virus, an adenovirus,’ Professor Godfrey said.

 

‘The problem is that you make an immune response not only against the SARS-CoV-2 spike, which is what the vaccine’s intended to do, but you also make an immune response against the whole adenovirus vector – and that makes sense, because that’s also foreign.

 

‘But the next time you get the adenovirus vector, your immune system may detect the whole virus vector and clear it before the vaccine really has a chance to boost the spike response. So you’re basically making the vaccine less efficient on reinjection.

 

‘But if you come along with an mRNA vaccine as the boost, all you have is the spike, and so that really focuses the parts of the first response just on the spike and therefore, you get a very pronounced response against the spike, which is the part of the virus that we want to make a response against.’

 

With the spread of the more infectious Delta variant resulting in reduced vaccine efficacy, some experts have proposed that combining vaccines could help improve immune responses, particularly when using AstraZeneca.

 

However, Professor Godfrey says it is still not known whether the approach will prove more protective against variants.

 

‘When you’re looking at hospitalisations and severe disease, they’re all very good. But it’s generally considered that the mRNA vaccines provide the most robust protection across the variants, and from studies such as this one, the heterologous approach is likely to provide better protection against the variants than straight AstraZeneca prime and boost,’ he said.

 

‘I don’t think that has yet been carefully examined. [But] typically the higher the amounts of antibody and T cells, so the stronger the immune response, the more effectively you can handle the variants. So it’s likely that heterologous vaccination will help protect against the variants.’

 

Professor Godfrey says mixing vaccines is not new, and is used for various other diseases from measles and mumps, to rubella and even influenza.

 

‘It has been done. There’s nothing inherently risky about the approach, other than it’s just less extensively tested in the context of COVID,’ he said.

 

However, the UK study did find that mixing viral vector and mRNA vaccines can also lead to an increase in mild to moderate side effects.

 

This increase was not noted in the German study, but it did find that following a dose of AstraZeneca with an mRNA booster resulted in a similar reaction to having the second of two mRNA doses, which can leave recipients feeling unwell for a few days.

 

Professor Godfrey said the disparity between the studies could be due to the interval between doses.

 

‘In the UK study … the boost vaccine was given four weeks after the prime. Whereas in the German study, the boost was 9–12 weeks later, and so there’s been a bit more time for the immune system to settle down,’ he said.

 

‘And therefore, maybe the reactogenicity on the boost is a bit more moderate because the immune system isn’t quite so revved up when that boost is administered.

 

‘But I don’t think it’s dramatically different, and I think in the big picture of things, these reactions are not the primary concern here; the primary concern is to make sure that people get good, robust immune responses and that they want to avoid any risks of the more serious side effects.’

Several countries have already started mixing COVID vaccines with the view to increase the speed of uptake, including Germany, Italy, Canada, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
 
It was also authorised by Public Health England in January, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has permitted mixing vaccines in ‘exceptional circumstances’, but only for mRNA varieties.
 
So, given the Australian Government recently secured an additional 85 million Pfizer doses and 25 million doses of Moderna, could the mixed approach to COVID vaccination be taken locally?
 
Professor Godfrey says it is likely inevitable.
 
‘AstraZeneca is gradually being more limited, although at the moment it is still playing an important role, particularly while we have this Delta virus outbreak,’ he said.
 
‘[But] I think once we have access to enough Pfizer vaccines that people will be looking and expecting to get a Pfizer, or other mRNA vaccine, boost.
 
‘I don’t know – but ultimately, I think it’s inevitable that we will be getting a different vaccine, whether it’s later this year or next year as a boost. That’s assuming that boosts are required.
 
‘Regulators are always reluctant to switch from what’s been tested in the clinical studies, but the studies are coming out now, and this one we’re talking about today is another example … and there were no problems; they got good robust immune responses – all the things that you really desire from a vaccine.’
 
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Easy ways to keep your immune system stronger, Health News & Top Stories

Easy ways to keep your immune system stronger, Health News & Top Stories

  • July 27, 2021

As many scientists expect that the virus will become endemic and prevalent in our community, it’s even more important to keep your immune system functioning at optimal capacity. If you find yourself falling ill easily, feeling sluggish, or have constant gastrointestinal issues, your immune system could be compromised.

Keeping your immune system in good shape is key to maintaining good health — which is especially crucial during this pandemic — and this starts from making adjustments to lifestyle habits that might be affecting it negatively. So, take charge of your health with these simple steps: 

Boost your diet

Getting sufficient nutrients as part of a varied diet and reducing the amount of highly processed products is important for the overall healthy functioning of your body, and in turn, the immune system. 

The Nutrition Source, published by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, says that examples of nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include vitamin C and D, zinc, selenium, iron and protein, which are all found in a variety of plant and animal foods.

Not sure how to eat a balanced meal? The Health Promotion Board recommends following these simple guidelines: Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains like brown rice and wholemeal noodles, another quarter with good sources of protein like lean meats and low-fat dairy products, and the remaining half with fruits and vegetables. 

For a start, you can try New Moon’s Organic SupeRice, which contains black, brown, red and white rice. Black rice is known for its high concentration of anthocyanin – the same antioxidant responsible for the colour of blueberries, acai berries and purple cauliflower. 

Reinforce your diet

If you are still unsure whether you’re getting sufficient vitamins and nutrients from your regular diet, add a booster in the form of supplements. 

Borsch Med100 lingzhi cracked spore powder capsule

For example, Borsch Med’s 100% Lingzhi Cracked Spores Powder Capsule Twin Pack, which is produced in Singapore, features the fine powdery seeds of Lingzhi mushrooms, which are said to support the immune system, and help improve blood circulation, sleep quality, concentration and overall well-being. Using advanced patented technology for harvesting and cracking, this powder is said to be 75 times more potent than uncracked spores powder, which means it’s absorbed more easily by the body. 

The recommended dosage is two capsules a day for the maintenance of health. Those who are recovering from an illness or need more energy can up the dosage to four capsules a day. As with all supplements, these need to accompany healthy lifestyle habits for the best effect. 

Manage stress levels

A manageable amount of stress can help you build mental resilience, but long-term, prolonged levels of stress can wreak havoc on your immune system. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, stress decreases the number of white blood cells in the body which help fight off infection, making you more susceptible to viruses. 

While it is difficult to control external stressors such as work deadlines or an upcoming big presentation, you can learn to manage them. Meditation has long been a popular stress-management tool, especially among elite athletes like Lebron James and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey.  

Make exercise a priority

Work-from-home arrangements have made many of us more sedentary than usual, which could lead to a host of health problems down the road. 

It is no secret that when it comes to building a resilient immune system, any amount of exercise is better than no exercise at all. Besides the physical benefits that come with exercise, there is also the bonus of mood-boosting effects that can help to keep stress at bay. 

If you have recently fallen off the fitness bandwagon, restart by making it a point to get some form of movement – whether it is a jog around your estate, a bike ride along East Coast Park or a feel-good yoga session – for at least 30 minutes every day. Aim to clock at least 10,000 steps a day. Your immune system (and mood) will thank you for it.


Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep every night helps enable a balanced immune defence. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Sleep your way to better health

Suffering a lack of sleep because of a packed social and work schedule is no longer something to be proud of. According to the Sleep Foundation in the US, getting sufficient high-quality sleep enables a balanced immune defence that can react to pathogens in an efficient manner. 

If getting the recommended eight hours of sleep is hard to achieve, first aim to maximise the quality of your sleep. This means avoiding alcohol and minimising the use of electronics before you sleep, and establishing a wind-down routine that incorporates light stretches or meditation that helps prepare your body for deep slumber. 

Keep vices to a minimum

Ultimately, the immunity-boosting effects of having a balanced diet, sufficient rest and exercise could all be easily undone if you drink in excess or smoke. Experts recommend replacing the ritual of pouring a drink after work or lighting up after dinner with other pleasant activities that you enjoy, such as going for a walk or reading a favourite book, so as to develop a new conditioned response. 

If going cold turkey is too difficult, being mindful about how much you drink and smoke, and making a conscious decision to reduce the amount, even by a little each time, can help to shift the needle in reducing the harmful effects of these habits in the long run. 

For the month of August, purchase Borsch Med 100% Lingzhi Cracked Spores Powder Capsule Twin Pack at $93 (U.P. $149). Available islandwide at leading NTUC FairPrice, Unity, Guardian, Watsons, NHG, Shopee, Lazada, Qoo10 and www.borschmed.com.

*This article provides general information only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Consumers with medical conditions, pregnant women, and children should consult a physician or medical professional before use.

Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19 -- ScienceDaily

New breakthrough to help immune systems in the fight against cancer — ScienceDaily

  • July 27, 2021

New research has identified potential treatment that could improve the human immune system’s ability to search out and destroy cancer cells within the body. Scientists have identified a way to restrict the activity of a group of cells which regulate the immune system, which in turn can unleash other immune cells to attack tumours in cancer patients.

“A patient’s immune system is more than able to detect and remove cancer cells and immunotherapy has recently emerged as a novel therapy for many different types of cancers.” Explained Nullin Divecha, Professor of Cell Signalling at the University of Southampton who led the study. “However, cancer cells can generate a microenvironment within the tumour that stops the immune system from working thereby limiting the general use and success of immunotherapy,” he continued.

Detection and removal of cancer cells by the immune system is carried out in part by a group of cells called Teffector cells (Teffs). How well Teff cells work in detecting and removing cancer cells is in part dictated by other T cells called T-regulatory cells, or Tregs for short. Tregs physically interact with the Teff cells and produce molecules which reduce the ability of the Teff cells to work properly.

Prof Divecha added, “Tregs carry out an important function in the human body because without them, the immune system can run out of control and attack normal cells of the body. However, in cancer patients we need to give the Teff cells more freedom to carry out their job.”

Molecules released by tumour cells compound the problem by attracting and accumulating Tregs, further reducing the activity and function of Teff cells. Mechanisms do exist to inhibit Treg cells, however as Treg and Teff cells are very similar, these generally also lead to inhibition of Teff cells.

In this new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from the University of Southampton and the National Institute of Molecular Genetics in Milan showed that inhibition of a family of enzymes in cells called PIP4K could be the answer to how to restrict Tregs without affecting Teffs.

The research team isolated Tregs from healthy donors and used genetic technology to suppress the production of the PIP4K proteins. They observed that loss of PIP4Ks from Treg cells stopped them growing and responding to immune signals which would therefore stop them from blocking the growth and function of Teff cells.

Importantly, the loss of the same enzymes in Teff cells did not limit their activity.

“This was surprising because PIP4Ks are in both types of T cells in similar concentrations but our study shows that they seem to have a more important function for Tregs than Teffectors,” said Dr. Alessandro Poli who carried out the experimental research.

Inhibition of PIP4K as a potential therapeutic for patients requires the development of inhibitory molecules. “Towards this end we show that treatment with a drug like inhibitor of PIP4K could enable the immune system to function more strongly and be better equipped to destroy tumour cells.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Dietitian shares inexpensive ways to boost your child’s immune system

Dietitian shares inexpensive ways to boost your child’s immune system

  • July 27, 2021

Nutrition is essential to childhood development. Poor nutrition results in poor health, increased prevalence of disease, low cognitive development, delayed milestones and low educational attainment.

With winter and the pandemic, some children may need help with nutrition to help them fight disease.

Laager Tea4Kidz brand manager, Wandile Ngubane says: “The Delta variant driving the 3rd wave is the most transmissible Coronavirus variant to date. And while vaccinations against the virus are still unavailable to children, we need to ensure their immunity is supported to protect them as much as possible.”

This time of year, there are a few culprits often behind children’s sniffling symptoms that parents can try and prevent with nutrition.

Laager Tea4Kidz partner and specialist dietitian, Mbali Mapholi at Urbandietitian says: “The pandemic has caused many people to be unemployed, making food shopping an additional financial challenge. There is also an added pressure that comes with meeting nutritional needs for children to help support their immune systems during the winter season, and even more so with Covid-19 infections on the rise. It boils down to a varied diet of foods that offer nutrients to support your child’s immunity, gut health and mental health.”

Mapholi is offering affordable and sustainable nutritional tips to keep children healthy this winter and during the pandemic.

Choose a healthy beverage

Children are the biggest culprits when it comes to high consumption of sugar sweetened beverages. These drinks are poor in the essential nutrients needed in winter, which is when we lose a great deal of water due to respiratory fluid loss through breathing. Our bodies also work harder under the weight of extra clothing, and sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air. Keep this in mind for children, as children may not report thirst, but they may be easily dehydrated in winter. Fluids can be provided in the form of:

· Rooibos tea: This is a caffeine-free, sugar-free healthy drink that helps support good health. Rooibos also has a calming effect, making it the perfect drink during periods of anxiety.

· Milk: Either cow’s milk or nutrient-fortified, unsweetened plant-based milks are also packed with nutrients.

· Water: This is a good beverage for hydration, but it is important to remember it does not contain nutrients.

· Fruit juice: These are full of nutrients but need to be consumed in moderation, as they are concentrated with natural sugar which can be a problem.

Keep up fruit and vegetable intake

Vegetables and fruit, particularly seasonal, are packed with a variety of nutrients which offer what your child’s body needs. Purchasing, storing, and cooking fresh vegetables can be challenging in a lockdown, but wherever possible, it is important to ensure children are getting plenty of fruit and vegetables in their diet. Some options to consider are:

· Smoothies and home-made iced Laager Tea4Kidz Rooibos teas are a fun way to add more vegetables and fruits into a child’s diet.

· Frozen fruits and vegetables are a nutritious and affordable option which can be stored for longer.

· Use vegetables to cook large batches of soups, stews or other dishes that last longer. These can be frozen and then quickly reheated.

· Canned vegetables, such as tomatoes, tend to contain lower quantities of vitamins, but they are a great fall-back option when fresh produce or frozen vegetables are hard to come by.

Embrace whole grains

Legumes and whole grains are packed with essential nutrients for good health, including dietary fibre which is great for good gut health.

· Canned beans and chickpeas provide an abundance of nutrients, and can be stored for months or even years.

· Canned oily fish such as sardines, pilchards and salmon are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Use them in sandwiches, salads, or pasta dishes, or cooked as part of a warm meal for children. Omega-3 fats are also known to trigger the production of serotonin which helps ease anxiety.

· Plant sources of omega 3, such as flax seeds, can be added to smoothies, breads or even thrown into casseroles and other side dishes.

· Dried goods like beans, pulses, and grains – lentils, split peas, rice, and sorghum – are also nutritious, long-lasting options that are tasty, affordable, and filling. Sorghum cooked with milk or water is an excellent breakfast option with fresh fruit on the side. You can also blend up chickpeas with oil to make hummus for a dip or spread on bread.

Build up a stock of healthy snacks

Children often get hungry between meals, but try to avoid sweets or salty snacks. Rather choose nuts, cheese, yoghurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruit, boiled eggs, or other locally-available healthy options. Remember a snack is a small nutritious meal that one can have between main meals, while a treat is a non-nutritious fun food that should only be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

Limit highly-processed foods

While using fresh produce may not always be possible, try to limit the amount of highly-processed foods. Ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks and desserts are often high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. These foods consumed in high quantities may negatively impact a child’s gut health, which in turn may affect their mental health. If you do purchase processed foods, check the label and try to choose healthier options.

B’Soleil Launches New Dietary Supplement That Boosts the Immune System and Offers Advanced Protection | News

B’Soleil Launches New Dietary Supplement That Boosts the Immune System and Offers Advanced Protection | News

  • July 27, 2021

SANTA CLARITA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul 15, 2021–

B’Soleil, Inc. is proud to announce the launching of a new dietary supplement, a capsule that boosts the immune system and offers advanced/improved immune protection. During the past 14 months, the team of professionals with a combined experience of more than 49 years in Healthcare, Quality Assurance, and Nutraceutical Manufacturing developed and perfected a formula that improves immune function.

B’Soleil contains a unique blend of ingredients including fruits and vegetables that are generally available in many grocery stores. These include pineapple, lemon, ginger, and lime. Additionally, this supplement is fortified with bromelain (mainly from pineapple stem), vitamin C, D, and zinc.

This blend creates a safe and potent combination that boosts the immune system.

The B’Soleil team is excited to be a small part of the global efforts to improve our defenses against COVID-19 and much more.

When used as directed, the benefits of B’Soleil are almost immediate.

This supplement is a blend of gluten-free, allergen-free, non-GMO, natural ingredients that contain their unique functions and a few of their benefits are as follows:

Vitamin C

  • Antioxidant
  • Protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals
  • Improves the immune system
  • Supports the body’s healing process

Vitamin D

  • Helps the immune system to fight invading bacteria and viruses
  • Nutrients needed for a good health
  • Helps the body absorbs calcium, a building block for strong bones
  • Protects the body from developing osteoporosis
  • Helps nerves to carry messages between the brain and body
  • Prevents heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Defends against cancer, such as colon, prostate, and breast cancers

Zinc

  • Supports the immune system to fight harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Improves metabolism function
  • Supports sense of taste and smell
  • Aids with wound healing

Pineapple

  • Antioxidant
  • Helps digestion
  • Anti-Inflammation
  • Speeds recovery after surgery or exercise
  • Fortifies the immune function
  • Potassium

Ginger

  • Fights harmful bacteria and viruses
  • Anti-inflammation and antioxidant
  • Helps with weight management
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol

Lime

  • Provides antioxidants
  • Improves the immune system
  • Reduces heart disease risk factors
  • Prevents kidney stones
  • Aids iron absorption
  • Promotes healthy skin

Lemon

  • Vitamin C
  • Supports weight management
  • Reduces the risk of:
    • Anemia
    • Heart disease
    • Kidney stones
    • Digestive issues
    • Cancer

Bromelain

  • Anti-Inflammation
  • Improves allergies
  • Eases indigestion
  • Improves the body’s healing process
  • Helps with recovery after surgery or injury
  • Promotes overall health and wellness

Unlike therapeutic interventions, B’Soleil is made from ingredients that are in the food category, which is the body’s primary source of nutrients. It helps the body improve and maintain its healthy functions by using its natural source of sustenance.

It is recommended to consult your doctor before taking any health supplements.

If you use B’Soleil as directed, for at least 3 days and test positive for COVID-19, we would like to hear from you.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Visit www.bsoleil.live for more information.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210715005893/en/

CONTACT: Daniel Karnwie-Tuah

Email:danielk@bsoleil.live

Phone: 661-627-8565

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CALIFORNIA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: MARKETING ADVERTISING COMMUNICATIONS HEALTH FITNESS & NUTRITION GENERAL HEALTH

SOURCE: B’Soleil, Inc.

Copyright Business Wire 2021.

PUB: 07/15/2021 01:16 PM/DISC: 07/15/2021 01:16 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210715005893/en

Copyright Business Wire 2021.

Vaccines and viral threats

Tailoring the immune system to viral threats with vaccines

  • July 27, 2021
Vaccines and viral threats

How viral vaccines work and why they are effective in curbing human viral disease

Viruses were in existence long before humans inhabited the earth. These nucleic acids are obligate parasites of cellular organisms and are thought to have developed shortly after the appearance of Earth’s earliest life forms. Humans have had a symbiotic relationship with viruses for more than 100,000 years. Much like the “good” bacteria in our gut microbiome, we also have over 100,000 “good” viruses in our bodies that maintain homeostasis and help protect us from harm. Viruses continuously train our immune system to react and defend against potentially dangerous infections. Recent studies suggest that the average human is exposed every day to equal numbers of viruses and bacteria, which means our immune system is continuously creating new antibodies to prevent or limit the extent of infections. In some instances, this continual exposure to viruses results in the incorporation of viral DNA sequences into our genome. Approximately 8% of human genomic DNA is thought to be derived from viruses, and viruses have played a key role in mammalian evolution. For example, syncytin-1, originally a virally encoded protein that integrated into the human genome, is essential for the placenta to form. Occasionally, a viral infection is too virulent (lethal) for our immune systems to defeat. An example is the smallpox virus (Variola major), which is estimated to have killed 300 million people since 1900 with an estimated lethality of 30%.

Medical advances have played a key role in enhancing human survival. Just over 100 years ago, the average life expectancy for males at birth was only 47 years with nearly 30% infant mortality within the first year of life. Public health advances that have significantly increased human lifespan by decades are the result of significantly expanded understanding of microbiology, the development of antibiotics, and the creation of effective vaccines. A primary goal of vaccination is to educate the human immune system to recognize a potentially lethal virus and to reduce the amount of virus in the body upon infection so that the individual is mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. A second public health objective is to significantly reduce the number of individuals that can transmit the virus to non-vaccinated members of the population.

During the 20th century we discovered how to attenuate (or make less virulent) a live virus, and how to create recombinant vaccines to improve their immune targeting and make them safer and more effective. The development and addition of adjuvants to most vaccines since the 1930s stimulates the immune system to effectively make anti-viral antibodies and long-lived memory T cells that recognize the virus quickly if re-infection occurs. As a result of these medical advances, life expectancy in developed countries has nearly doubled and infant mortality has declined to less than 1%. Highly lethal smallpox has been eliminated. However, the co-existence of viruses, animals, and humans means that the emergence of pathogenic viral infections, such as coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), remains a constant threat.

Viral infections and the immune response

Viruses enter the body via inhalation, ingestion, sexual contact, and insect bites. Viral infections generally involve mucosal surfaces, such as the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and reproductive tracts, but can also affect other systems such as the nervous system or skin. The outcome of a viral infection is influenced by dosage (how much of the virus an individual is exposed to), viral load (amount of virus produced in the body after infection), route of transmission, and the human host immune response. A number of factors affect immune function to make a host more vulnerable or resistant to infection, including genetics, age, and lifestyle factors (e.g. nutrition, co-existing medical conditions, adverse lifestyle habits).

Viruses are not cellular and are not capable of reproducing on their own. Instead, viruses depend upon the infected person’s cells to complete their life cycles. The simplest viruses consist solely of nucleic acid (RNA or DNA) that encodes a protein that directs the replication of viral RNA when it enters the host cell. All viruses have a protective protein coat (capsid) surrounding the viral genetic material, and some viruses also have an envelope or external membrane. Viruses attach to host cells either through adsorption or via binding to a specific cellular target or receptor. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the external membrane of the capsid contains a spike protein that binds to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor on host cells, which enables it to enter. The amount of ACE2 expression determines the human tissues most susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Once the virus enters the cell, it takes control of the host cell’s machinery to produce copies of itself. New viruses are assembled and exit to repeat the process in adjacent cells. Most human viral infections are asymptomatic and pass unnoticed, but immune activation by viruses can produce fever, chills, weakness, muscle aches, inflammation, and malaise. Signaling molecules in the immune system known as cytokines, produce these symptoms and play an important role in suppressing the viral infection. A balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory/regulatory cytokines is also necessary to ensure an appropriate immune response.

Figure 1 - Cellular immune response
Figure 1: Cellular immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection
(1) SARS-CoV-2 attaches to a lung epithelial cell via binding to the ACE2 receptor, beginning its life cycle. (2) The virus enters the cell and releases its genetic material (RNA). (3) Innate immune receptors in cellular compartments (endosomes) detect viral RNA, (4) leading to activation and nuclear translocation of cytosolic transcription factors such as nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB) and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs). (5) After transcription and translation of the activated host genetic sequences, the cell releases antiviral (interferons – IFNs) and pro-inflammatory cytokines to prime immune cells such as dendritic cells to express co-stimulatory molecules and produce cytokines. (6) Immunogenic dendritic cells sample and display antigens and will activate naive CD8+ T cells that recognize viral peptides bound to MHC class I molecules, leading to T cell proliferation and expansion. Meanwhile, in the cytosol of an infected lung epithelial cell, (A) the viral genome is copied and translated on host ribosomes, making new viral proteins and RNA. (B) Cells are also constantly sampling cytosolic proteins via proteasome degradation, (C) eventually producing peptides for display via MHC I molecules on the cell surface. (D) If the T cell receptor on an activated effector CD8+ T cell binds its cognate antigen, it recognizes the cell as infected and induces apoptosis, a controlled process of cell death, in the target cell.
Figure created with BioRender.com using a modified template (acknowledgement to Gillian Dunphy, PhD).

The immune system must be able to distinguish between infected and uninfected cells to prevent further viral replication while minimizing cellular damage (Figure 1). Foreign viral proteins are broken into small peptide fragments that are bound to class I major histocompatibility complex I proteins (MHC I). The peptide-MHC I complex is displayed on the surface of all nucleated cells and platelets. Cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and natural killer (NK) cells recognize cells expressing viral protein fragments bound to MHC I as foreign and destroy infected cells. Cytokines, specifically type I interferons (IFNs), are important secretory proteins released by infected cells that directly inhibit viral replication and alert surrounding cells to increase surface MHC I molecules, thereby increasing the likelihood of presenting virally-derived peptides to CD8+ T cells and NK cells (Figure 1). Cytokines that contribute to host defense are also synthesized and released by cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and NK cells after contacting infected cells. These cytokines and CD4+ helper T cells provide signals to activate B cells to produce antibodies that recognize viral particles outside of cells and prevent their attachment to host cells. In some cases, as with SARS-CoV-2, a human host’s overactive immune response in the lung can produce excessive cytokine release that inadvertently causes collateral tissue damage, and in extreme instances, organ failure and death.

Viruses use multiple strategies to avoid detection (immune evasion) and in some instances, downregulate the host’s immune response (immunosuppression). Mutation of their genetic code can decrease the likelihood of detection by immune cells (immune escape) or allow the virus to acquire the ability to infect additional host species. Viruses also make proteins that can interfere with host antiviral response. For example, SARS-CoV-2 proteins dampen the type I IFN response, and there is evidence of impaired type I IFN activity in patients with COVID-19. Some viruses, such as varicella-zoster, enter into latency following primary infection, using a dormant, non-infectious form to hide in tissues.

Viral infections: benefits and risks

In most cases, we recover from pathogenic viral infections and develop long-lasting immunity. Adaptive immune cells (B and T cells), which previously encountered a particular virus, are able to respond quickly upon subsequent infections, forming the basis of immune memory. Natural immunity is the most direct benefit to the host following viral infection. Viral infections early in life can be beneficial in “educating” the immune system. As an example, the function of NK cells is enhanced in mice latently infected with a murine herpesvirus as compared with control animals. Mutualistic or commensal viruses, such as bacteriophages found in the linings of mucosal membranes, likely play a protective role in guarding humans against invading bacteria.

On the other hand, there are numerous risks associated with viral infections. Infections can become chronic, a condition characterized by the continued presence of infectious virus with persistent or recurrent disease as seen with AIDS or hepatitis C. Viral disease can be accompanied by severe or lingering symptoms associated with a persistent host immunological response. In some survivors of acute COVID-19, there is evidence of neurological complications stemming from persistent cytokine production (fatigue, brain fog, sensory loss), or autoimmune disorders including Guillain-Barré syndrome. Persistent viral infections can increase risk for other diseases such as cervical cancer following infection with some forms of human papilloma virus (HPV), or secondary bacterial pneumonia after viral respiratory infection. Infections during pregnancy have been associated with preterm birth, and adverse neurodevelop- mental outcomes in the fetus (for example, microcephaly seen with Zika virus). While there are new antiviral drugs for some viral diseases (hepatitis B and C, herpesviruses), generally there are no effective cures for most viral infections. Instead, medications are used to treat or relieve symptoms, and these have their own sets of side effects and complications.

Our history with the principles of vaccination dates back centuries

As previously mentioned, the human immune system is continuously being exposed to viral infections. Thus, vaccination is primarily reserved for those viral infections that can cause a significant degree of morbidity and mortality. The principles underlying vaccination have been recognized and practiced by some societies for centuries. As early as the 10th century, civilizations in China, Africa, and India practiced forms of variolation, a term referring to the practice of small, controlled exposures to live virus to develop immunity. In the 16th century, the practice of variolation gained widespread use as a way to combat smallpox. A person seeking immunity would receive a scratch on the arm and have the puss from a smallpox pustule or dried smallpox scab rubbed onto this superficial wound (this is just one example of a variolation technique). The small amount of viral exposure would produce a modest infection much less severe than the typical respiratory route. After recovery, the individual would subsequently be immune to further smallpox infections. The idea of causing a mild viral infection to prevent a subsequent debilitating or lethal infection led Edward Jenner in 1796 to create what is considered to be the “first” vaccine. Jenner infected individuals with the benign cowpox virus, which is closely related to the smallpox virus, allowing them to become immunologically protected against the highly lethal smallpox. Developed over 300 years ago, the word “vaccine” is derived from the Latin word vaccinus, or “of cows” because of its linkage to cowpox. Highlighted in Table 1 are some common human viral diseases and the vaccines that have been developed to prevent them.

Table 1
Table 1. Common viruses that cause human disease. Vaccines are approved by FDA for use in the United States.
1 – Oral polio vaccine (live virus) is used in other countries. 2 – Approved for Emergency Use Authorization at the time of this writing. 3 – Declared eradicated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1980. 4 – Can cause congenital birth defects (microcephaly) in pregnant women who get infected. Main sources of information used to compile this table: https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/viral-vaccines.html, https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/types and CDC and WHO websites.

What are the goals of vaccination today?

People increasingly occupy the same spaces as animals and insects that carry and can transmit novel viruses that are pathogenic to humans. Vaccines developed against these novel pathogenic viruses may not always prevent subsequent disease. However, the goal of effective immunization is to reduce viral replication below the point at which the virus is transmissible or induces a disease state. At this moment, the available data suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines developed against SARS-CoV-2 have the capability to reduce viral load in those vaccinated and significantly reduce severe COVID-19 illness and viral transmission.

Immune function and responses to viral insult varies between humans. Most individuals will respond to a viral infection by creating antibodies that recognize short protein fragments of the virus referred to as epitopes. A person’s immune system produces an array of antibodies against a set of viral epitopes, and this array can differ between individuals. As is the case with COVID-19, antibodies that recognize specific viral epitopes permit a more effective immunological response upon subsequent exposures to the virus. Depending upon their design, vaccinations help direct a person’s immune system to produce neutralizing antibodies that are most efficacious in reducing the viral load. Furthermore, vaccines effectively promote the development of memory T and B cells that can rapidly induce production of antibodies upon re-infection. However, in individuals who are immunodeficient or immunocompromised, vaccination will not produce the desired protective immunological response. For these individuals, large scale vaccinations of the population are protective by reducing viral prevalence within the population, thereby decreasing their chances of encountering the virus.

What types of vaccines are used today?

Several types of vaccination strategies are used currently and vaccines commonly used include live-attenuated viruses (a weakened virus), inactivated viruses (dead viruses), and subunit or recombinant subunit (a piece of the virus) (Figure 2). Today, vaccination with attenuated live virus is reserved for populations in which it would be difficult to obtain sufficient large scale vaccination to prevent viral outbreaks. Common ingredients in vaccines include active components, preservatives, and stabilizers (Figure 3). Included in many vaccines are adjuvants that boost a person’s immune response to the vaccine. Aluminum adjuvants have been used since the 1930s and are present in vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b. In vaccines composed of intact, dead virus, the glycoproteins associated with the viral capsid acts as an adjuvant. RNA vaccines contain liposomes that encapsulate and protect the RNA, and facilitate cellular entry. These liposomes serve as adjuvants. Adjuvants are not used in the live, viral vaccines in which the goal is to trigger a normal immunological response to weakened strains of replicating viruses.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Viral vaccine strategies
(a) Live, attenuated vaccines such as the MMR vaccine contain viruses that are alive but weakened. This is typically done in a laboratory by continually culturing the virus to the point where it is no longer virulent.
(b) Inactivated vaccines, such as the polio vaccine, contain viruses that are fully dead. This is typically done in a laboratory using heat or chemicals. (c) Subunit vaccines contain just a piece of the virus.
(d) Recombinant vaccines, such as the Hepatitis B vaccine, use genetic engineering technology to produce the active ingredients. Often these techniques are combined, with many viral vaccines consisting of a recombinant subunit (Table 1). These types of vaccines often include adjuvants. Adjuvants are substances added to vaccines in order to increase the immunogenicity of the vaccine. (e) One of the most recent advances in vaccine production is the use of mRNA (messenger RNA) technology. mRNA is a single strand of nucleotides (adenine, uracil, guanine, or cytosine), in this case encoding the instructions for a viral protein that will activate the immune system. (f) Viral vector vaccines employ a modified version of a different, non-pathogenic virus, which serves as a vector to deliver to cells instructions (such as DNA) from a part of the pathogenic virus.
Figure created with BioRender.com using a modified template.
Figure 3 - Common components of vaccines
Figure 3: Common components of vaccines
Vaccines contain only essential ingredients each of which has a specific purpose. Ingredients that provide protection (immunity) include the active ingredients and adjuvants. Ingredients that keep the vaccine safe and effective include preservatives and stabilizers. Some ingredients used during the vaccine manufacturing and production processes remain in residual amounts, including antibiotics and other trace components.
Figure created with BioRender.com using a modified template.

The urgency of the global COVID-19 pandemic focused global efforts on the creation of the first mRNA vaccines. In December 2020, mRNA vaccines for the prevention of COVID-19 were approved for use in the United Kingdom (U.K.), followed shortly by an emergency use authorization (EUA) for these vaccines by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States (U.S.). At the time of this writing, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have started the process to move from the EUA distinction to full FDA approval.

While the adaptation of mRNA technology for the use of viral vaccination is relatively new, mRNA technology for therapeutic purposes has been established over the past two decades. In addition, several DNA vaccines for COVID-19 have been approved in the U.K. and U.S. These vaccines utilize a harmless adenovirus vector to deliver the DNA to cells. Types of COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. and U.K. include the Pfizer-BioNTech (lipid nanoparticle, mRNA), Moderna (lipid nanoparticle, mRNA), Johnson & Johnson (adenovirus, DNA), and AstraZeneca (adenovirus, DNA). In brief, these vaccines work by delivering the instructions (mRNA or DNA) on how to make a small piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (specifically a part of the spike protein). The cell will then produce and process the spike protein to display it on the outside of the cell via presentation on MHC molecules. Immune cells that recognize this piece of spike protein as foreign will become activated and expand, resulting in effector T cells and the generation of antibodies from B cells (Figure 4). This allows the body to recognize and mount an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it enters the body. As mentioned above, the vaccines do not prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering the body and possibly replicating, but through the generation of memory cells, it does prevent SARS-CoV-2 from replicating to the point of causing severe illness or death, and significantly lowers the risk of being able to transmit the virus to others.

Figure 4
Figure 4: SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine and immune activation
(1) The mRNA sequence required to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is packaged into lipid nanoparticles, which also act as an adjuvant for the COVID-19 vaccine, then administered to patients via intramuscular injection in the arm. (2) Upon docking to a cell, the packaged mRNA is released into the cytosol, where ribosomes translate the mRNA instructions and produce spike protein (antigen). (3) The subsequent cellular degradation of the spike protein produces viral peptides that are presented on MHC I molecules, displaying antigen on the cell surface. The release of cytokines through activation of antiviral signaling pathways alerts nearby cells to the presence of an “infection”, increasing the probability of naive T cells complexing with activated immune cells that present antigen derived from the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The actions of cytokines are also responsible for many of the side effects experienced after vaccination. (4) T cells that recognize peptide antigens from the spike protein become activated, expand, and carry out their effector functions. CD8+ T cells, also known as killer T cells, release additional cytokines locally, and will release cytotoxic granules to induce apoptosis in infected cells. (5) Memory T cells are antigen specific T cells that are easily reactivated and survive for long periods of time after exposure, leading to a more efficient immune response during subsequent infections. (6) CD4+ T cells, also known as helper T cells, activate naive B cells, leading to the production of antibodies that recognize epitopes on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Neutralizing antibodies intercept SARS-CoV-2 and prevent it from binding to host cells, instead targeting it for destruction.
Figure created with BioRender.com.

Risk-benefit analysis in the context of vaccines

We make risk-benefit assessments every day of our lives. Driving your car to work involves weighing the risk associated with automobile travel – your life-time odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are ~1% – versus the benefits of driving. Most people readily accept the risks of driving to work. This analogy can be translated to actions taken to avoid the outcome of COVID-19 infection. The risk of developing severe illness (defined here as requiring hospitalization and including death) from native COVID-19 infection in unvaccinated adults over 18 is approximately 19%; whereas the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection for a fully vaccinated individual is approximately 0.01%.

Whether one’s immune response is stimulated by a native viral infection or under the controlled circumstance of a vaccination, there is some individual risk given the large variance in peoples’ immune response. Although severe allergic reaction to vaccination is rare, some people (including those with a history of severe anaphylaxis) may have different risk for this adverse outcome than the majority of the population. The risk of blood clotting (thrombosis) with thrombocytopenia syndrome (blood clots with low platelets) occurring after receiving the Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca vaccine is approximately 7 per 1 million for women ages 18-49, and even lower for those outside that demographic. The risk of developing blood clots from a native COVID-19 infection is about 39 per 1 million, significantly larger than the risk of developing clots from vaccination.

The technology to develop the COVID-19 vaccines had already been in development for quite some time. Although the vaccines currently available in the U.S. were authorized via the FDA’s EUA, this does not mean they were not properly tested. To be authorized for use under the EUA, therapeutics and/or tests must meet extremely strict standards. The clinical trials conducted prior to public use involved thousands of participants, on par with the numbers used for “full” approval. Currently, millions of people have received vaccines for COVID-19, significantly expanding the base of knowledge regarding the efficacy and safety of these vaccines.

Many people have questioned what the “long term” effects of the COVID-19 vaccines will be. It should be noted that viral proteins resulting from any of the vaccination regimens are short-lived. Historically, vaccinated individuals do not “shed” viral proteins. Similarly, viral nucleic acids introduced by vaccination are even more short-lived than viral proteins and they cannot integrate into the human genome. Historically, any adverse effects associated with a vaccine occur within two months of receiving the vaccine (e.g., the low risk of blood clotting after Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca vaccines occurred within this time frame). A rare exception to this “two month” window is the possibility of antibody-dependent enhancement of immunity (ADE) following vaccination. ADE occurs when antibodies generated against a viral antigen do not neutralize it, but instead help facilitate viral entry. This unusual condition has been reported in some cases of childhood vaccination against dengue fever. There are multiple strains of dengue and immunological antibodies against one strain may be ineffective in neutralizing the other strains of dengue virus. ADE is hypothesized to have led to the death of 14 children when 800,000 children in the Philippines were vaccinated against all four serotypes of the Dengue virus. In clinical vaccine trials researchers constantly monitor for the possibility of ADE. So far, no instances of ADE have been found associated with COVID-19 vaccines. Common misconceptions about vaccines are addressed in Figure 5.

Figure 5
Figure 4: SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine and immune activation
(1) The mRNA sequence required to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is packaged into lipid nanoparticles, which also act as an adjuvant for the COVID-19 vaccine, then administered to patients via intramuscular injection in the arm. (2) Upon docking to a cell, the packaged mRNA is released into the cytosol, where ribosomes translate the mRNA instructions and produce spike protein (antigen). (3) The subsequent cellular degradation of the spike protein produces viral peptides that are presented on MHC I molecules, displaying antigen on the cell surface. The release of cytokines through activation of antiviral signaling pathways alerts nearby cells to the presence of an “infection”, increasing the probability of naive T cells complexing with activated immune cells that present antigen derived from the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The actions of cytokines are also responsible for many of the side effects experienced after vaccination. (4) T cells that recognize peptide antigens from the spike protein become activated, expand, and carry out their effector functions. CD8+ T cells, also known as killer T cells, release additional cytokines locally, and will release cytotoxic granules to induce apoptosis in infected cells. (5) Memory T cells are antigen specific T cells that are easily reactivated and survive for long periods of time after exposure, leading to a more efficient immune response during subsequent infections. (6) CD4+ T cells, also known as helper T cells, activate naive B cells, leading to the production of antibodies that recognize epitopes on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Neutralizing antibodies intercept SARS-CoV-2 and prevent it from binding to host cells, instead targeting it for destruction.
Figure created with BioRender.com.

The path forward

While great efforts have been made to characterize and improve vaccines, there are still many unanswered questions. Particularly within the context of COVID-19, people may wonder how long they will have immunity after getting vaccinated. The good news is that vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines appears to promote the production of neutralizing antibodies for at least six months. At this time, it is too early to know how far that will extend. Hopefully, these vaccines will elicit the generation of long-lived memory T cells, a type of immune cell that will survive for long periods of time and can provoke a much stronger and faster immune response upon viral re-exposure. Of significance is that patients infected with SARS (a closely related virus to SARS-CoV-2) had memory T cells that persisted for up to two decades after exposure, whereas the memory B cells responsible for antibody generation and their produced antibodies were undetectable after a couple of months. This implies that memory T cells are important for persistent immunity against viral infections. Characterizing the efficacy of the different COVID-19 vaccines against mutated forms of SARS-CoV-2 is still a work in progress with the newer mRNA vaccines directed against the viral attachment site appearing to remain protective. These scenarios likely can be addressed via booster shots in the future, analogous to influenza vaccines. The new mRNA vaccines easily permit sequence adjustment of the mRNA backbone to target viral variants that have small mutations, allowing for rapid development of countermeasures to new or mutated viruses.

With pregnant populations, and more recently children as young as 12 now being approved to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, concerns are starting to dwindle about the safety of these vaccines. All approved vaccines will continue to undergo what is known as post market requirement studies, which forces the companies producing these drugs to continue studying their safety in all populations for many years to come. While it may take that long to fully characterize the safety profile of these vaccines, for now it seems that they are having the desired effect. Invariably, the question will arise: when will life be back to normal? No one can answer that question for sure, but how will we get back to normal? The answer to that question is through the widespread use of safe and effective vaccines.

Table 2 - Definitions

Authors:
Lauren Matelski, Jeremy MacMahon, Paige Mundy,
Fredric A. Gorin and Pamela J. Lein

Financial Express - Business News, Stock Market News

People are shifting towards healthier alternatives to improve their immune system: Raj Sahetiya

  • July 27, 2021
fibre, vitamins, micronutrients , Indians, vitamin D, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Indian diet, omega-3 fatty acidsOne must ensure a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU/day (15 µg/day) as recommended by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

With over 3 Crore Indians affected by COVID-19 to date, the long-standing need to boost immunity and maintain a healthy diet has received its due importance. People are shifting towards healthier alternatives and are taking steps to improve their immune system.

In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, Raj Sahetiya, Senior Business Director – HNH, South Asia at DSM shares his ideas on addressing the need for healthier diets and shaping a brighter future for all.

DSM is a global, purpose-led, science-based company active in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living. DSM delivers innovative solutions for human nutrition, animal nutrition, personal care and aroma, medical devices, green products and applications.

As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Vitamin D3, DSM ensured uninterrupted supplies of immunity boosting solutions to the society at large. Furthermore, the company augmented mass fortification drives in order to cater to nutritional deficiency worsened by the pandemic in the different groups of people.

Excerpts-

How has DSM acted on COVID-19 induced health and nutritional requirements?

Employee well-being has always been our topmost priority. Standing on the backbone of our people-centric values, we displayed agility in transitioning to a Work-from-Home set-up. Globally, we launched initiatives that supplemented our employees and their families with immunity building dietary supplements.

What is the role of Vitamin D in boosting immunity?

Many recent studies have also indicated the essential role of Vitamin D in boosting immunity and thereby, defending the body against foreign, invading organisms. Vitamin D helps activate the production of an important bacteria-fighting peptide in macrophages and barrier cells to fight against harmful organisms. In this manner, Vitamin D fortifies both innate immunity and the adaptive immune system. The explanation for this association between the two can be found in the way our bodies are designed. Most immune cells have receptors and the enzymes to activate vitamin D such that it can efficiently bind to these receptors.

It is our advice that in order to maintain a healthy amount of Vitamin D micronutrient in the body, one must ensure a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU/day (15 µg/day) as recommended by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

What are the nutrient gaps in Indian diets and how can they be addressed?

Indian diet surely is one of the most versatile diets as it comprises a variety of green vegetables, fruits and fibrous elements that have varied health benefits. However, with the rise in the fast-food culture coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, people have become prone to major deficits of requisite micronutrients that strengthen their immune system.

A large number of Indians have a lower intake of fibre, vitamins and other micronutrients than needed. For example, evidence has suggested that 80% of Indians have insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood. Moreover, Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread in Indians living in tier-3 cities to those living in urban areas. Also, a typical Indian diet may not include omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are essential for leading a healthy life.

These nutritional gaps can negatively impact immunity and consequently lead to reduced resistance against infections. While important, however, consuming nutrient-dense diets does not always yield the same result for everyone. In such circumstances, consumption of dietary supplements helps complement the diet, fill any nutritional gaps and support the immune system. Other preferred formats include consumption of fortified foods and beverages, which is a well-established, trusted and proven method to facilitate easier access to nutrition and addressing micronutrient deficiencies on a large scale for those looking to support their immune system. We, at DSM, are at the forefront of enabling these nutritional innovations and supplying nutritional ingredients for industries, dietary supplement, early life nutrition, medical nutrition and nutrition improvement.

How can staple food fortification help address malnutrition in India?

According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020, India ranked 94 out of 107 countries, indicating a serious malnutrition epidemic spurred further by the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown. Inadequate nutrition can have a major, long lasting impact on human physical health and development but also places a heavy burden on societies across the world. By leveraging public-private partnerships, we now have the opportunity to resolve the nutritional crisis by means of Food Fortification. By enhancing the nutritional value of food and beverages, fortification acts as an effective tool to combat the nutritional crisis facing India. Owing to its affordability and ease of implementation, fortification substantially brings down the healthcare costs contributing to the overall economic growth.

Driven by science and innovation, DSM has been developing solutions that blend micronutrients with staple foods such as rice, wheat, flour, milk, oil and sugar. By enabling access to proper nutrition, we are determined to support India’s fight against malnutrition.

We believe that creating synergies has the potential to solve the world’s most pressing issues and to that effect have partnered with leading organisations such as World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help fight malnutrition globally.

 

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Proven Ways to Boost Your Immune System, Science Says

Proven Ways to Boost Your Immune System, Science Says

  • July 27, 2021

Given our current situation, you might be interested in taking immune boosters, and need to first understand that overall immunity is based on a variety of factors, explains Dr. Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. “There are things we do that can increase our vulnerability to infections,” he says. A few examples include poor sleep and stress, which “increases cortisol secretion and may adversely impact immune defense” and smoking. In addition to getting your Zs, avoiding stress, eating a healthy diet, and exercising, taking immune boosters can also help build immunity. 

Immune boosters are supplements you can take to promote your overall health and ward off disease. Most of them include vitamins that have been scientifically proven to ward off disease —omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc—are a few of the key names to look for. Here’s what taking immune boosters every day does to your body. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It. 

woman getting over a cold
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Just like the name implies, immune boosters will help boost immunity so you can fight off infection. “Vitamin C, D and Zinc are important for appropriate immune response,” Dr. Mareiniss explains. “If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements.”

Senior woman suffering from pain in hand at home.
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According to Dr. Mareiniss, immune boosters with zinc may be beneficial in decreasing inflammation. “There is some evidence that Zinc may help regulate appropriate inflammatory response,” he says. “Zinc plays an intricate function during an immune response and its homeostasis is critical for sustaining proper immune function,” says a study in Nutrients. “Additionally, zinc deficiency plays a role in inflammation, mainly elevating inflammatory response as well as damage to host tissue. Zinc is involved in the modulation of the proinflammatory.”

Mature Woman With Plastered Leg Talking On Mobile Phone At Home
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Dr. Mareiniss reminds you that vitamin C, which is naturally present in many foods and not synthesized by the body, is crucial for the biosynthesis of collagen. “The healing of musculoskeletal tissues, such as bone, tendons, and ligaments, is dependent on the capacity of collagen synthesis and cross-linking,” says one study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. “Basic science investigations on the biochemical pathways after a musculoskeletal injury have suggested that vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, may enhance collagen synthesis and soft tissue healing.”

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A plaster cast with plaster.
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Additionally, vitamin C “is an essential component of connective tissue and plays a role in wound healing,” he explains. “Preclinical studies demonstrated that vitamin C has the potential to accelerate bone healing after a fracture, increase type I collagen synthesis, and reduce oxidative stress parameters,” says the study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

Female doctor analyzing mammography results on x-ray.
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Immune boosters with vitamin C, an antioxidant, may also keep certain cancers at bay, says Dr. Mareiniss. “Most case-control studies have found an inverse association between dietary vitamin C intake and cancers of the lung, breast, colon or rectum, stomach, oral cavity, larynx or pharynx, and esophagus,” explains the National Institutes of Health.

RELATED: The Easiest Way to Look Younger, Says Science

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If oxidative stress plays a role, immune boosters with vitamin C may aid in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, he adds. 

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home
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Don’t overdo your immune boosters. “Very, very large doses of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, headache and insomnia,” points out Dr. Mareiniss. Ask your doctor about which dosage is right for you. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta

fruits vegetables
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Pretty much every health expert agrees that the best source of vitamins and minerals is from immune-boosting foods. “Typically, you can get adequate vitamin C from foods like citrus fruits, peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cantaloupe, potatoes, strawberries, spinach etc,” reveals Dr. Mareiniss. And, “Vitamin D can be ingested but is naturally produced in the body. UV light (ie, sunlight) exposure aids its production.” Discuss these thoughts with your medical professionals, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Freiburg researchers receive ERC funding to develop and test immunostimulatory drug candidates

Breakthrough treatment could improve the immune system’s ability to destroy cancer cells

  • July 27, 2021

New research has identified potential treatment that could improve the human immune system’s ability to search out and destroy cancer cells within the body. Scientists have identified a way to restrict the activity of a group of cells which regulate the immune system, which in turn can unleash other immune cells to attack tumors in cancer patients.

“A patient’s immune system is more than able to detect and remove cancer cells and immunotherapy has recently emerged as a novel therapy for many different types of cancers.” Explained Nullin Divecha, Professor of Cell Signalling at the University of Southampton who led the study. “However, cancer cells can generate a microenvironment within the tumor that stops the immune system from working thereby limiting the general use and success of immunotherapy,” he continued.

Detection and removal of cancer cells by the immune system is carried out in part by a group of cells called Teffector cells (Teffs). How well Teff cells work in detecting and removing cancer cells is in part dictated by other T cells called T-regulatory cells, or Tregs for short. Tregs physically interact with the Teff cells and produce molecules which reduce the ability of the Teff cells to work properly.

Prof Divecha added, “Tregs carry out an important function in the human body because without them, the immune system can run out of control and attack normal cells of the body. However, in cancer patients we need to give the Teff cells more freedom to carry out their job.”

Molecules released by tumor cells compound the problem by attracting and accumulating Tregs, further reducing the activity and function of Teff cells. Mechanisms do exist to inhibit Treg cells, however as Treg and Teff cells are very similar, these generally also lead to inhibition of Teff cells.

In this new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, scientists from the University of Southampton and the National Institute of Molecular Genetics in Milan showed that inhibition of a family of enzymes in cells called PIP4K could be the answer to how to restrict Tregs without affecting Teffs.

The research team isolated Tregs from healthy donors and used genetic technology to suppress the production of the PIP4K proteins. They observed that loss of PIP4Ks from Treg cells stopped them growing and responding to immune signals which would therefore stop them from blocking the growth and function of Teff cells.

Importantly, the loss of the same enzymes in Teff cells did not limit their activity.

“This was surprising because PIP4Ks are in both types of T cells in similar concentrations but our study shows that they seem to have a more important function for Tregs than Teffectors,” said Dr. Alessandro Poli who carried out the experimental research.

Inhibition of PIP4K as a potential therapeutic for patients requires the development of inhibitory molecules. “Towards this end we show that treatment with a drug like inhibitor of PIP4K could enable the immune system to function more strongly and be better equipped to destroy tumor cells.”

Source:

University of Southampton

Boost Your Cooking and Your Immune System With Pineapple—the Refreshing Powerhouse Fruit Packed With Vitamin C

Boost Your Cooking and Your Immune System With Pineapple—the Refreshing Powerhouse Fruit Packed With Vitamin C

  • July 26, 2021
Health benefits of eating pineapple

Health benefits of eating pineapple

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From fruit salad to smoothies or even pizza, chances are you’ve consumed pineapple in some shape or form. This sweet fruit really is so versatile when it comes to preparation options, and as it turns out, there are several health benefits of eating pineapple too. Indigenous to South America, pineapple is a sweet and juicy tropical fruit that can add unique flavor to a variety of snacks, drinks, and dishes. Whole pineapples somewhat resemble giant pine cones topped with a crown of stiff, green leaves. And at first glance, it might look like quite the task to cut into to get to the tender, yellow fruit within. While it’s actually not all that complicated to peel and cut a pineapple (watch this video to get the hang of it), you can also find pre-sliced pineapple at most supermarkets—so it couldn’t be easier to punch up your dishes with pineapple while sneakily offering your body a boost of vitamin C and other good-for-you benefits.

The Top Health Benefits of Pineapple

Pineapple is packed with many important nutrients, particularly vitamin C, as well as antioxidants and other compounds that can aid in fighting inflammation and boosting the immune system, digestion, and even surgery recovery.

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It’s High in Vitamin C

“In one cup of pineapple, you get 79 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 88 percent of the daily value, and that also helps boost immunity,” says Amy Gorin, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Conn. One study even showed that children who consumed pineapple every day had a lower risk of viral or bacterial infections.

“Vitamin C is used by your body to build collagen, which helps to keep your skin fresh and plump,” adds Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, founder of BZ Nutrition in New York City. “It also helps to strengthen your immune system and aids in your absorption of iron. Pairing a source of vitamin C with a source of iron (like spinach, dried apricots, and fortified cereals) is especially important for women, who often experience low iron levels.”

It Contains the Enzyme Bromelain

“You also get satiating fiber and even a gram of protein, as well as bromelain, which is beneficial for helping to lower inflammation,” Gorin says. Bromelain is a digestive enzyme present in the fruit, core, and leaves of pineapple with several purported therapeutic benefits—so many in fact, that pineapple has been utilized as a healing agent in traditional folk medicine for thousands of years. It’s known for its “anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and fibrinolytic effects, anticancer activity and immunomodulatory effects, in addition to being a wound-healing and circulatory-improvement agent,” according to a 2016 biomedical report in the journal Spandidos Publications.

Test-tube studies have shown that bromelain can help to reduce the risk of certain cancers because of its inflammation-fighting properties. Another study found that bromelain may be helpful in treating arthritis symptoms—however, further human research is needed to prove these claims. Finally, bromelain has also been shown to help with recovery from muscle damage caused by exercise.

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Sweet and Savory Ways to Prepare Pineapple

Pineapple is a fruit that most people are familiar with and can be eaten and prepared in a variety of ways. While it’s delicious, sweet-tart, and refreshing all on its own, Gorin recommends adding it to a fruit salad or a breakfast yogurt parfait for even more flavor, vitamins, and protein.

Zeitlin recommends adding a cup of pineapple to breakfast smoothies, along with 2 cups of spinach for an energizing morning boost; pairing it with some cheese for an afternoon snack; or having a cup of pineapple after dinner for a naturally sweet, palate-cleansing treat.

We’ve also got plenty of recipe options right here at Real Simple. Try making this creamy, dreamy, tropical soft-serve that’s only three ingredients and reminiscent of Disney World’s famous Dole Whip; or this cinnamon-roasted pineapple that would make the perfect dessert. Finally, in this day and age, it’s not uncommon to see pineapple available as a topping option for pizza; served alongside chicken, burgers, or fish; charred on the grill for natural caramelization and added complexity; or combined into an otherwise savory lunchtime salad. It’s slightly tart sweetness brings an irresistible wow-factor to savory dishes and umami-rich meat and seafood.

With so many ways to enjoy pineapple, a fruit packed with key vitamins and nutrients, there’s no way you’ll want to leave it out of your rotation.

RELATED: 7 Delicious Ways to Eat More Immunity-Boosting Vitamin C

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