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Harvard biologist turns back the aging process in mice

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(Last Updated On: June 4, 2022)

Using proteins that can turn an adult cell into a stem cell, Harvard Medical School molecular biologist David Sinclair and his team have reset aging cells in mice to earlier versions of themselves. 

In his team’s first breakthrough, old mice with poor eyesight and damaged retinas could suddenly see again, with vision that at times rivaled their offspring’s, CNN reported.

“It’s a permanent reset, as far as we can tell, and we think it may be a universal process that could be applied across the body to reset our age,” said Sinclair, who has spent the last 20 years studying ways to reverse the ravages of time.

“If we reverse aging, these diseases should not happen. We have the technology today to be able to go into your hundreds without worrying about getting cancer in your 70s, heart disease in your 80s and Alzheimer’s in your 90s,” Sinclair said at an event presented by CNN. 

“This is the world that is coming. It’s literally a question of when and for most of us, it’s going to happen in our lifetimes,” Sinclair told the audience.

Studies on whether the genetic intervention that revitalized mice will do the same for people are in early stages, Sinclair said. It will be years before human trials are finished, analyzed and, if safe and successful, scaled to the mass needed for a federal stamp of approval.

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New Langya virus infects 35 people in China

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

A new virus, which can be transmitted to humans from animals, has infected 35 people in Shandong and Henan provinces, according to a study by scientists from China, Singapore and Australia published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

So far, there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The Henipavirus (also called Langya henipavirus or LayV) was first detected in late 2018 but was only formally identified by scientists last week, the Guardian reported.

It was discovered  thanks to an early detection system for feverish people with a recent history of exposure to animals, Bloomberg reported.

The virus was found after throat swabs were taken from the patients who were mostly farmers.

The virus is entirely novel, meaning it has not infected humans before.

But two viruses from the same family had been identified previously – the Hendra virus and Nipah virus. Both can cause severe and sometimes fatal illnesses. There are no vaccines or treatments, The Sun reported.

So far, the cases have not been fatal or very serious, so there is no need for panic, said Professor Wang Linfa from the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore who was involved in the study.

He added that it is still a cause for alarm as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.

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Italy kicks off vaccination campaign against monkeypox

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

Italy launched its vaccination campaign against monkeypox on Monday, as case numbers increased at a time when health authorities are reporting vaccine shortages worldwide, Reuters reported.

Italy has reported 545 cases of monkeypox, according to the health ministry. Its vaccination campaign started more than a month after other countries that have seen higher numbers of cases, including the United States, Britain and Spain.

The first doses will be given at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome, the hospital said in a statement.

The vaccine used will be Jynneos (MVA-BN), a smallpox vaccine made by Bavarian Nordic and approved by the European Medicines Agency for protection against monkeypox, the hospital said.

On Thursday, vaccinations will also begin in Italy’s financial capital, Milan.

Monkeypox is spread chiefly by close contact, causes pus-filled sores and flu-like symptoms, and is rarely fatal. There have now been 26,500 cases worldwide outside the countries where it usually spreads, according to a Reuters tracker.

In July, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”, its highest alert level.

The first case in Italy was recorded on May 20, 2022. There are no current plans for mass vaccinations.

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Cholera infects over 400 in quake-hit Spera district of Khost

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

More than 400 people have been infected with cholera over the last 10 days in Spera district of Khost province, the site of a deadly earthquake that struck six weeks ago, officials said on Sunday.

Mohammad Nabi Zadran, head of a mobile health team in Khost, said that eight people have died of cholera in Spera district, including five children and three adults.

Most of those infected are women and children. Officials said cholera is reported also in Gyan and Barmal districts of Paktika province.

“They should assist us. Foreign countries should assist us as we are suffering,” said Abdullah Noor, a resident of Spera district.

Health officials said that efforts are ongoing to control the spread of the disease.

Fazl Karim, Khost’s health director, said that a total of 40 mobile health teams were deployed to fight the cholera outbreak.

The UN agency for children also said this week that after the recent earthquake there is an increased risk of an outbreak of diseases like cholera in Spera district in Khost.

“Thanks to the support from USAID, we have been able to provide safe drinking water to 1,500 of the most vulnerable families,” UNICEF said on Twitter.

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