WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?

Monkeypox is a zoonotic virus, which transmits disease from animals to humans, with symptoms very similar to smallpox but less severe. Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which is usually mild and from which most people recover in a few weeks. It is related to smallpox, which killed millions around the world every year before its eradication in 1980, but has far less severe symptoms. The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the wider public is said to be very low.  Outbreaks of the virus have been found in Europe, Australia and America. * The symptoms often include a fever and rash - but the infection is usually mild and clears up on its own, lasting between 2 and 4 weeks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus can be contained with the right response in countries outside of Africa where it is not usually detected.

MONKEYPOX ORIGINS

  • Discovered in 1958  in colonies of research monkeys. First human case identified in 1970 in Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Occurs mostly in remote parts of Central and West Africa
  • Virus has two main types - West African strain thought to be milder than Central African variant

HUMAN-TO-HUMAN TRANSMISSION

  • Via respiratory droplets - requires prolonged face-to-face contact
  • Close contact with body fluids or lesions, or by touching contaminated clothing or bedding

GENERAL SYMPTOMS

Incubation: Time from infection to symptoms can range from 5-21 days.

Initial illness: Fever, headache, muscle aches, swellings, exhaustion.

Itchy rash: May develop on face, then spread to hands and feet.

Lesions: Go through various stages until scabs form and fall off. Lesions can cause scarring.

Outcome: Illness typically lasts for 2-4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to be fatal in up to 1 in 10 people who contract disease.

Treatment: Smallpox vaccine proven to be 85% effective against monkeypox. Antiviral drugs could help relieve symptoms.

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WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS, DESEASE AND TREATMENTS OF THE LIVER?

The liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. Weighing about 3 pounds, the liver is reddish-brown in color and feels rubbery to the touch. Normally you can't feel the liver, because it's protected by the rib cage.

The liver has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.

The liver's main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.

Types of liver disease include:

Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis can have non-infectious causes too, including heavy drinking, drugs, allergic reactions, or obesity.
Cirrhosis: Long-term damage to the liver from any cause can lead to permanent scarring, called cirrhosis. The liver then becomes unable to function well.
Liver cancer: The most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, almost always occurs after cirrhosis is present.
Liver failure: Liver failure has many causes including infection, genetic diseases, and excessive alcohol.
Ascites: As cirrhosis results, the liver leaks fluid (ascites) into the belly, which becomes distended and heavy.
Gallstones: If a gallstone becomes stuck in the bile duct draining the liver, hepatitis and bile duct infection (cholangitis) can result.
Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis allows iron to deposit in the liver, damaging it. The iron also deposits throughout the body, causing multiple other health problems.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis: A rare disease with unknown causes, primary sclerosing cholangitis causes inflammation and scarring in the bile ducts in the liver.
Primary biliary cirrhosis: In this rare disorder, an unclear process slowly destroys the bile ducts in the liver. Permanent liver scarring (cirrhosis) eventually develops.

Liver Treatments

Hepatitis A treatment: Hepatitis A usually goes away with time.
Hepatitis B treatment: Chronic hepatitis B often requires treatment with antiviral medication.
Hepatitis C treatment: Treatment for hepatitis C depends on several factors.
Liver transplant: A liver transplant is needed when the liver no longer functions adequately, whatever the cause.
Liver cancer treatment: While liver cancer is usually difficult to cure, treatment consists of chemotherapy and radiation. In some cases, surgical resection or liver transplantation is performed.
Paracentesis: When severe ascites -- swelling in the belly from liver failure -- causes discomfort, a needle can be inserted through the skin to drain fluid from the abdomen.
ERCP (Endocscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography): Using a long, flexible tube with a camera and tools on the end, doctors can diagnose and even treat some liver problems.

Credit :  WebMD

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World finally gets a malaria vaccine

October 6, 2021, marks a historic day in humanity's fight against malaria, as the WHO approved the rollout of the malaria vaccine. RTS,S/AS01 also known as Mosquirix among children living in sub-Saharan Africa and other at-risk regions. Though the vaccine protects against only 30% of infections, its rollout is a breakthrough, because developing a vaccine against complex malaria parasite is a herculean task.

Mosquirix was developed by British drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline in collaboration with health non-profit PATH and a network of African research centres, with partial funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The vaccine is the result of 30 years of research and it targets Plasmodium falciparum, the most common parasite causing malaria in Africa. The vaccine offers no protection against the other four species such as P vivax, P ovale, P knowlesi and P malariae which are prevalent in Southeast Asia, Americas and Europe.

Countries will need to take individual decisions on whether to introduce the vaccine or not and also work out funding arrangements on their own.

The WHO recommends the use of RTS,S for the prevention of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by the global health body.

“RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden,” the WHO said.

According to its estimates, more than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually. That is why WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the approval of the vaccine as a “historic” development. 

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control. Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” he said in a statement.

Credit : The Print 

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WHO releases new recommendations on human genome editing

While research on gene editing has been happening for a while, the idea of performing it on humans on a large scale has been a subject of debate. The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a slew of recommendations in July 2021, on how to ensure gene editing research is used for the public good. It called on countries to stop any research that might lead to the birth of genetically edited human beings. The WHO established a committee in 2018 to develop standards for human genome editing. The committee produced a series of nine key, recommendations in its report. Among other things, it stressed the need for regulation and the creation of a database to track all forms of gene manipulation, providing a full overview, including pre-clinical research.’

The reports deliver recommendations on the governance and oversight of human genome editing in nine areas, including human genome editing registries; international research and medical travel; illegal, unregistered, unethical or unsafe research; intellectual property; and education, engagement and empowerment. The recommendations focus on systems-level improvements that WHO believes are needed to build capacity in all countries to ensure that human genome editing is used safely, effectively and ethically. In addition, the reports provide a new governance framework that identifies specific tools, institutions and scenarios to illustrate practical challenges in implementing, regulating and overseeing research into the human genome. 

Moving forward, the organization will convene a small expert committee to consider next steps for a human genome editing registry. WHO will also convene multisector stakeholders to develop an accessible mechanism for confidential reporting of concerns about possibly illegal, unregistered, unethical and unsafe human genome editing research.

Credit : AABB 

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How do antibodies target corona virus?

People who have recovered from mild corona virus infections produce antibodies that target three different parts of the virus's spike protein that it uses to latch on to human cells

  • A National Institutes of Health-funded study, published recently in the journal Science, offers the most detailed picture yet of the array of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 found in people who've fully recovered from mild cases of corona virus.
  • Most studies of natural antibodies that block corona virus have focussed on those that target a specific portion of the spike protein known as the receptor-binding domain (RBD). The RBD is the portion of the spike that attaches directly to human cells. As a result, antibodies explicitly targeting the RBD are an excellent place to begin searching for antibodies capable of fighting the virus.
  • However, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin found that most antibodies target other portions of the spike protein than the RBD. The study led by Gregory Ippolito and Jason Lavinder, likens the spike protein to an umbrella, with the RBD at the tip of the "canopy." While some antibodies bind to the RBD, many others target the protein's canopy, known as the N-terminal domain (NTD).
  • The team also found that about 40 % of antibodies target yet another portion of the spike called the S2 subunit. Additionally, the S2 subunit could make an ideal target for a possible pan-corona virus vaccine since fewer mutations exist at this portion of the spike.
  • The study will prove helpful in designing vaccine booster shots or future vaccines tailored to fight coronavirus variants of concern.

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