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Emma Whieldon
Emma Whieldon
4 min. read

In the final week of March and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we bring the latest medical research and drug development news. Virologists have been working tirelessly for many years to identify viruses and to help medical researchers better understand the challenges they are facing, modern technologies have helped move this forward – for example, sequencing of viral genes.

Consequently, the World Health Organization this week were able to launch the SOLIDARITY global mega-trial, a coordinated push to collect robust data on the coronavirus involving numerous healthcare organizations. We also saw new findings in disciplines such as neuroscience, cardiology and immunology, a redefinition of NAFLD, and a repurposing of an anti-psychotic to improve the effectiveness of checkpoint inhibitors.

Welcome to the Virosphere

SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the pandemic, belongs to one of 6,828 named species of virus. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the world of virus diversity — what they sometimes call the virosphere — is unimaginably vast. They have uncovered hundreds of thousands of new species that have yet to be named. In recent years, virologists have changed the way they hunt. Now they look for bits of genetic material in samples — water, mud, blood — and use sophisticated computer programs to recognize viral genes.

WHO Launches Global Megatrial of the Four Most Promising Coronavirus Treatments

The World Health Organization has recently announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY. It’s an unprecedented effort—an all-out, coordinated push to collect robust scientific data rapidly during a pandemic. The study, which could include many thousands of patients in dozens of countries, has been designed to be as simple as possible so that even hospitals overwhelmed by an onslaught of COVID-19 patients can participate.

Neuroscience Research: 6 Fascinating Findings

Neuroscience is never easy, but the resulting intrigue is worth the effort. In this feature, six studies that uncover new and unexpected truths about brain are discussed including the link between brain and gut and its association with Parkinson’s disease.

Could Immuno-Oncology Treatments get a Boost from a 64-year-old Antipsychotic?

Prochlorperazine (PCZ) was first approved by the FDA back in 1956 to treat psychosis, and, even though it’s been overtaken by newer antipsychotics, it’s still prescribed today to relieve nausea and vomiting. Now, Australian researchers are suggesting a new use for the drug: to improve the effectiveness of checkpoint inhibitors and other antibodies in cancer.

The Bacteria in a Mother’s Gut may Protect Babies from Food Allergies

The presence of certain bacteria in a mother’s gut is linked to a decreased risk of their baby developing food allergies in the first year of life. Prevotella copri is a bacterium that ferments fibre from our diet into fatty acids, and it has been linked to reduced allergic reactions in the offspring of mice with a high-fibre diet. Peter Vuillermin at Deakin University in Australia and his colleagues examined whether this association was also found in humans, in whom the fatty acids are thought to help regulate inflammation.

Redefining Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

An international consensus panel led by researchers from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research has highlighted the need to redefine non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This will be renamed metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) and researchers highlighted that the new terminology will better reflect its causes and improve public health initiatives.

New 'Real World' Data Reveal Potential Opportunities for Blood Pressure Improvement

Large-scale analysis of electronic health record data from across the US reveals potential opportunities for improvement in how high blood pressure is managed, according to research presented by the American Heart Association.

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