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Protein found on infected cells protects virus from immune system; remdesivir helps prevent hospitalization By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO A lab technician shows Remdesivir (a drug that is used to treat coronavirus diseases like COVID-19) at Eva Pharma Facility in Cairo. June 1, 2021. Picture taken June 1, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. There are some research results that require further analysis to verify the findings, and others that were not yet certified by peer review.

Virus-infected cells protected from immune system by protein

A protein called CD47 that helps damaged cells avoid destruction by the immune system may be contributing to severe cases of COVID-19, researchers believe. In a new report, researchers suggested that drugs being developed targeting CD47 could lead to improved COVID-19 treatments. Martin Michaelis from the University of Kent, who was coauthor of this report said that they may have found a significant factor in severe COVID-19. “We now have the opportunity to look forward at further developments in the development of therapeutics.” The researchers discovered that CD47, which is basically a signal to the immune system “Don’t eat me!” – in lab experiments. The surface area of coronavirus-infected cells is affected by this virus. SARS-CoV-2 infections also increase levels of SIRPalpha protein. This is a protein that works in conjunction with CD47 and tricks the immune system to ignore sick cells. Studies have previously shown that CD47 levels can also be elevated when there are certain conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes that puts people at greater risk of developing COVID-19-related complications. These groups may have elevated CD47 levels, which could lead to severe COVID-19. Further research will be required to clarify the roles of CD47/or SIRPalpha and COVID-19.

Remdesivir keeps high-risk patients out of the hospital

Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:)’s intravenous antiviral drug remdesivir helped keep high-risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital in a randomized trial, the company announced. All 562 participants in the study had serious medical conditions. The company announced that Remdesivir was administered to half of them for three days. 4.3% of the patients who were in the placebo-treated group died or had been admitted to hospital within four weeks. This compares with 0.7% for those who received Remdesivir. This translated to an 87% reduced risk of death or hospitalization. The company stated that Remdesivir-treated people had significantly lower medical visits. The medication is approved for use as an emergency drug in patients who are hospitalized. In a statement, Dr. Robert Gottlieb from Baylor University Medical Center stated that the latest data showed remdesivir can help patients at high risk recover faster than they become sicker. The data will be presented by his team at a medical conference.

Pandemic cuts life expectancy by most since WWII

The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced life expectancy in 2020 by the largest amount since World War II, with the life expectancy of American men dropping by more than two years, according to new data. All but two of the countries that were studied, the United States and Chile, showed a decrease in their life expectancy. The drops in life expectancy were larger for women than men in many countries. Ridhi Kashiap of Oxford University, study leader said that “the large decreases in life expectancy in the United States could partly be explained” by the noticeable increase in mortality among the working age group in 2020. The decline in life expectancy was largely due to increased mortality among the younger age group, while in Europe the rate of mortality over 60 has been increasing more. U.S. males saw their life expectancy fall by 2.2 years compared to 2019. In Lithuania, the decline was 1.7 years. Life expectancy dropped 1.5 years in both the United States of America and Spain for women. Men had a greater life expectancy drop of more than one year in 15 countries than women did in 11. The International Journal of Epidemiology reported that females of 15 countries, and males of 10, had lower lives at birth in 2020 than they did in 2015.

Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

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