Day: June 21, 2020

Coronavirus Attacks the Lungs. A Federal Agency Just Halted Funding for New Lung Treatments.

When the coronavirus kills, it attacks the lungs, filling them with fluid and robbing the body of oxygen. In chest X-rays, clear lungs turn white, a sign of how dangerously sick patients are.

But earlier this month, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a federal health agency, abruptly notified companies and researchers that it was halting funding for treatments for this severe form of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The new policy highlights how staunchly the Trump administration has placed its bet on vaccines as the way to return American society and the economy to normal in a presidential election year. BARDA has pledged more than $2.2 billion in deals with five vaccine manufacturers for the coronavirus, compared with about $359 million toward potential Covid-19 treatments.

But the shift in strategy also shows that the administration is backing away from the relatively modest funding

Read More

Copper Won’t Save You From Coronavirus

“If 40 percent of your proteins don’t work, you don’t work,” Dr. Johnson said. Copper may even be capable of jamming up proteins that typically run metal-free by simply glomming onto their surfaces.

Even our own immune systems appear to exploit copper’s protective perks. Some evidence suggests that immune cells like macrophages — which gobble up and destroy bacteria, viruses and other microbes — may be capable of engulfing and sequestering germs in an acidic “ball of death” chamber that’s then spiked with lethal doses of copper, Dr. Johnson said. “Our bodies have been using this for warfare” long before copper masks hit the market, he added.

But it remains to be seen which of these scenarios will play out with the coronavirus, and to what extent. Dr. Johnson is one of several scientists currently on the case, tinkering with copper to suss out exactly how it exerts its apparently

Read More

Older Adults May Be Left Out of Some Covid-19 Trials

Picture the day — in six months, a year and a half or in 2023 — when university researchers or a pharmaceutical company announces a breakthrough against the virus that causes Covid-19.

Maybe it’s a successful vaccine or an effective treatment, a discovery that brings hope and relief — especially to the older adults most vulnerable to the disease, eager to return to their pre-pandemic lives.

Imagine, however, that the researchers neglected to enroll many people in their 70s or 80s in the clinical trials that established the effectiveness of this treatment. As a result, it’s unclear how much the treatment will benefit older people, what risks it might pose, or if the dose that works for younger people is the best one for an older population.

Could that really happen? Certainly there is a long history of older people being excluded from clinical trials, even when the diseases in

Read More