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Nipah monoclonal antibody to undergo human trials in India, Bangladesh in 2025

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New Delhi, July 4 (IANS) A novel monoclonal antibody against the Nipah virus is set to undergo human clinical trials in India, and Bangladesh — two countries that suffer Nipah outbreaks almost every year — in 2025, according to a report on Thursday.

Nipah virus, a zoonotic disease of the Paramyxovirus family, kills up to 75 per cent of the people it infects. The lethal disease also has a high transmission rate. To date, there are no approved treatments or vaccines against it.

The trial aims to assess the safety and tolerability of Nipah monoclonal antibody (mAb) MBP1F5 — developed by the US-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical — a protein that mimics natural antibodies by binding to the virus and preventing infection.

The company has received $43.5 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and is intended to commence human trials in 2025, pending regulatory approval.

The trial will assess MBP1F5 in healthy adults at multiple clinical trial sites in India and Bangladesh.

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The funding will also support preclinical studies seeking to expand the use of the mAb from pre-exposure prophylaxis (before someone is exposed to a virus) to post-exposure prophylaxis, that is, for people shortly after infection with the virus.

“A monoclonal antibody capable of offering immediate protection for caregivers and others at risk of infection would be an important addition to our armamentarium against the Nipah virus,” said Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The new Nipah mAb can bind to the Nipah virus F protein — preventing the virus from entering a host cell and causing infection in people. This mechanism can offer protection against both known strains of Nipah virus (Bangladesh and Malaysia) and its closely related viral cousin, Hendra virus, for at least six months — enough time for vaccine immunity to build, according to the company researchers.

According to Brent Yamamoto, from Mapp, in preclinical models, MBP1F5 has shown incredible potential for preventing and treating Nipah.

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–IANS

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Maintain hygiene, urges doctor amid rising cholera cases

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New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) Hygiene is crucial to curb the cholera outbreak, currently seen in Kerala and Gujarat, said a medical expert on Sunday.

Cholera is a waterborne bacterial infection due to the bacterium Vibrio cholerae that is transmitted from one infected person to another due to contaminated water or food, especially seafood.

“Once ingested, the bacteria multiply within the small intestine and produce the cholera toxins that are responsible for the symptoms of severe watery diarrhoea also called ‘rice water loose stools’ and severe dehydration,” Dr Sujatha Thyagarajan, Senior Consultant – Paediatrics & Paediatric Intensive care, Aster RV Hospital in Bengaluru, told IANS.

Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram has seen a severe outbreak of cholera with reportedly one suspected death and 12 confirmed cases and 17 suspected cases are undergoing treatment. Several cases of cholera have also been reported from Gujarat and an area in a 2-kilometer radius has reportedly been declared as a cholera-affected area, under the Epidemic Diseases Act.

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“The rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes, if not replaced quickly, can cause death. The spread can be rapid especially when there is limited clean water supply and unsanitary conditions reaching epidemic proportions very quickly,” Dr Thyagarajan said.

She noted that cholera prevention is of utmost importance and requires a multi-pronged approach, adding that children and the elderly are highly vulnerable to severe dehydration, complications, and even death, and hence warrant prompt recognition and treatment.

“The focus must be on improving personal hygiene and ensuring access to clean potable water. It is important to ensure there are adequate sanitation practices to avoid contamination of sewage and safe water is provided at all times,” she said.

She also recommended “proper cooking and safe handling of seafood”.

“In general, adequate personal hygiene must be maintained at all times — hand washing with soap after the toilet and before eating food.”

Further, Dr Thyagarajan said once an outbreak is identified, the rapid spread must be contained aggressively through regular surveillance and prevention methods. “The main treatment of Cholera is timely rehydration through ORS (oral rehydration solution) or intravenous rehydration to replace the rapid fluid and electrolyte loss,” she said, adding that antibiotics can help in severe cases.

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–IANS

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Virtual evaluation of medical units to enhance health services in UP

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Lucknow, July 14 (IANS) The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is planning to implement virtual evaluations for the National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) certification of Ayushman Arogya Mandirs, which envisages providing comprehensive primary health care services to remote and peripheral areas.

Previously, the NQAS team conducted time-consuming physical verifications of these health units.

With this new approach, the number of NQAS-certified Ayushman Arogya Mandirs is expected to increase rapidly. This initiative is anticipated to significantly improve the quality of health services, providing better healthcare to the public in a more efficient manner.

The number of Ayushman Arogya Mandirs in India has surpassed 1.70 lakh, with over 17,000 located in Uttar Pradesh. In a significant move to improve healthcare services, the Union Health Ministry has recently launched ‘Ayushman Bharat, Quality Health.’

Revised guidelines have been issued for NQAS and Kayakalp certification for integrated public health laboratories.

The primary aim of introducing virtual assessments and a dashboard for the NQAS certification of Ayushman Arogya Mandirs is to enhance public access to healthcare and ensure the delivery of quality health services. During virtual visits, there will be opportunities for interactions with patients, staff, and community members.

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Pinky Jowel, Mission Director of the National Health Mission, has issued a letter to all District Magistrates, Additional Directors, and CMOs of the state regarding this new initiative. The letter mandates that each district must conduct virtual evaluations of 10 to 20 medical units every month.

This initiative will also enable the evaluation of Ayushman Arogya Mandirs in remote areas, ensuring comprehensive healthcare improvement across the state.

Nishant Kumar Jaiswal, General Manager of the National Health Mission, informed that 275 medical units in the state have received NQAS certification so far. These include 56 district-level units, 42 community health centres, and 24 primary health centres. Efforts are being made to bring an equal number of units under this certification in the next three months.

He mentioned that the Central government only provides this certification to health units that treat and care for patients according to standards. Health units that are NQAS certified will have enhanced facilities for local residents.

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He further said that the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC), which provides the NQAS certificates, has recently received international ISQua EEA accreditation. This means that NQAS is not only an international standard certification but that NHSRC is also a body that complies with international standards.

–IANS

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Scientists find protein to block muscle fatigue in long Covid, Alzheimer's

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) US researchers have identified a protein responsible for causing fatigue in people with long Covid, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

While infections and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s are known to cause inflammation in the brain, the patients often develop muscle problems that seem to be independent of the central nervous system.

A team led by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that it is caused by a specific protein that travels from the brain to the muscles and leads to loss of muscle function.

The study, conducted in fruit flies and mice, also identified ways to block this process. This may help physicians treat or prevent muscle wasting caused by bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, and long Covid.

Aaron Johnson, Associate professor of developmental biology explained that when people are ill, “messenger proteins from the brain travel through the bloodstream and reduce energy levels in skeletal muscle.”

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The “process reduces energy levels in skeletal muscle, decreasing the capacity to move and function normally”, he said, in the study, published in the journal Science Immunology.

For the study, the team modelled three different types of diseases — an E. coli bacterial infection, a SARS-CoV-2 viral infection, and Alzheimer’s.

They found that when the brain is exposed to inflammation, it builds up damaging chemicals called reactive oxygen species. This causes brain cells to produce an immune-related molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6), which travels throughout the body via the bloodstream.

In mice, IL-6 was responsible — and the corresponding protein in fruit flies — for reducing energy production in muscles’ mitochondria, known as the cells’ energy factories.

They also found that IL-6 activates what is called the JAK-STAT pathway in muscle, and this is what causes the reduced energy production of mitochondria.

Currently, several therapeutics already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for other diseases can block this pathway, the team said.

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–IANS

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Here’s how smoking can worsen your diabetes

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) While smoking can cause definite health issues among people of all ages, in people with diabetes, it can worsen the risk of heart disease, and stroke and make the illness harder to manage, according to a top diabetologist on Sunday.

Taking to the social media platform X.com, Dr V Mohan, Chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, explained ways in which smoking can affect people with diabetes.

He said that smoking increases insulin resistance.

“Smoking makes it harder for your body to respond to insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels and worsening diabetes control,” the doctor said.

It also raises the risk of severe complications “such as heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.”

Smoking can also worsen blood pressure and cholesterol levels — both critical factors for managing diabetes effectively.

Smoking can also impair blood circulation in people with diabetes, and also accelerate the risk of death.

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“Smoking damages blood vessels, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of foot ulcers and infections that can lead to amputations,” Dr Mohan said.

“People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to experience fatal health outcomes compared to non-smokers. This includes a significantly higher risk of total mortality and cardiovascular mortality,” he added.

A 2023 study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with Dr Mohan and other researchers showed that India has a staggering 101 million individuals afflicted by diabetes, while the number of prediabetes stands at 136 million. The country is also home to a whopping 315 million people suffering from hypertension, and 213 million with high cholesterol, among others.

“Take charge of your health: quit smoking and manage your diabetes better,” Dr Mohan said.

–IANS

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SGPGI doctors in Lucknow perform world's first robotic surgery

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Lucknow, July 14 (IANS) Doctors at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) here have performed the world’s first robotic surgery to treat a rare case of pelvic lipomatosis, an official said.

The official spokesperson said, “The case related to a 24-year-old man who was diagnosed with a rare disease.”

Given the complexity of the case, the surgical team at SGPGI decided to perform an augmentation cystoplasty with bilateral ureteric reimplantation. This procedure involved enlarging the bladder using a section of the patient’s intestine and repositioning the ureters to ensure proper drainage and function.

The surgery was performed for more than seven hours. Such a complex procedure where the surgical correction of both the bladder and ureter is done in one setting with a surgical robot has not been reported anywhere in the world, the official added.

Uday Pratap Singh, who led the surgery, said this operation offers numerous advantages over traditional open or laparoscopic surgery.

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“The use of the da Vinci Xi robotic system allowed us to perform this complex surgery with unparalleled precision. This milestone is a testament to the capabilities of robotic surgery in treating rare and challenging conditions,” he said.

The patient’s post-operative recovery has been remarkable, with significant improvement in bladder and kidney function.

“This achievement underscores SGPGI’s commitment to advancing medical science and providing cutting-edge care to patients with complex urological conditions,” said SGPGIMS Director R.K. Dhiman.

–IANS

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