Felodipine, a prescribed drug to treat high blood pressure, has shown promise against Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and forms of dementia in studies carried out in mice and zebrafish at the University of Cambridge.
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists have shown in mice that felodipine may be a candidate for re-purposing.
A common feature of neurodegenerative diseases is the build-up of misfolded proteins.
These proteins, such as huntingtin in Huntington’s disease and tau in some dementias, form “aggregates” that can cause irreversible damage to nerve cells in the brain.
A team led by Professor David Rubinsztein used mice that had been genetically modified to express mutations that cause Huntington’s disease or a form of Parkinson’s disease, and zebrafish that model a form of dementia.
Felodipine was effective at reducing the build-up of “aggregates” in mice with the Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease mutations and in the zebrafish dementia model.
The treated animals also showed fewer signs of the diseases.
“This is the first time that we’re aware of that a study has shown that an approved drug can slow the build-up of harmful proteins in the brains of mice using doses aiming to mimic the concentrations of the drug seen in humans,” said Professor Rubinsztein.
The hypertension drug was able to slow down progression of these potentially devastating conditions and “so we believe it should be trialled in patients,” he added.
In healthy individuals, the body uses a mechanism to prevent the build-up of such toxic materials.
This mechanism is known as autophagy, or ‘self-eating’, and involves cells eating and breaking down the materials.
“This is only the first stage, though. The drug will need to be tested in patients to see if it has the same effects in humans as it does in mice. We need to be cautious, but I would like to say we can be cautiously optimistic,” said Professor Rubinsztein. (IANS)
President Donald Trump’s declaration that he was taking a malaria drug of dubious effectiveness to help fend off the coronavirus will likely be welcomed in India. COVID-19 pandemic in India updates constitute that Hydroxychloroquine might be used as protective measure against COVID.
Trump’s previous endorsement of hydroxychloroquine catalyzed a tremendous shift in the South Asian country, spurring the world’s largest producer of the drug to make much more of it, prescribe it for front-line health workers treating the virus and deploy it as a diplomatic tool, despite mounting evidence against using the drug for COVID-19.
Trump said Monday that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a measure of protection against the virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, has cautioned against using it outside of hospitals because of the risk of serious heart problems.
Suhhil Gupta, a pharmacist in New Delhi, said Tuesday that Trump’s announcement shouldn’t carry any weight in India. “He’s not a pharmacist. His statements are not relevant to the field,” Gupta said.
Still, India’s policy on the decades-old drug, used to prevent malaria and treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, drastically changed after Trump tweeted in March that the drug, used together with an antibiotic, could be “game changers” in the fight against the pandemic. India’s health ministry quickly approved it as a prophylactic for health care workers and others at high risk of infection, and as a treatment for critically ill patients.
Officials in Mumbai even drew up a plan to administer hydroxychloroquine to thousands of slum dwellers as a preventive measure against the virus. Indian health officials have declined repeated requests for comment, limiting communications to daily health briefings, the last of which occurred May 11.
The rules say that drugs such as hydroxychloroquine be used only after a rigorous scientific and ethical review, continued oversight by an ethics committee and ensuring informed consent — none of which happened with hydroxychloroquine, according to Dr. Amar Jesani, a medical ethics expert.
The Mumbai proposal was ultimately shelved amid questions of the ethics of administering the malaria drug without first subjecting it to clinical trials. Still, the Indian government has recommended more and more people use it, contravening 2017 rules for emergency use of untested drugs, Jesani said.
India initially banned hydroxychloroquine exports, but lifted the ban after Trump threatened “retaliation.” At the same time, India’s government ordered manufacturers to ramp up production from 1.2 million to 3 million pills a month — causing company shares to skyrocket. From the U.S. to Australia, sales jumped.
Officials have even said that Indian plantations could increase the growing capacity of cinchona trees, whose bark contains the compound quinine, which has been used to treat malaria since the 1860s. Quinine can also be made synthetically. The Indian government itself purchased 100 million hydroxychloroquine pills, according to government data, to distribute to states and donate to countries including Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Dominican Republic.
India is the world’s largest producer of generic drugs, a fast-growing industry that has brought down pharmaceutical prices globally. During the HIV/AIDs crisis, India played a similar role as in the coronavirus pandemic, boosting global supplies of life-saving drugs. The problem this time, experts say, is that the hydroxychloroquine hype is based on a flimsy study, with little to no evidence that it prevents or treats COVID-19.
Still, a sharp rise in demand has reduced supplies for patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. India’s hurried guidance has also impeded scientific trials that could determine whether the benefits of taking hydroxychloroquine outweigh the risks.
“We should do a trial. I think that is the right way to come to answer on this question. But the (government) made our job harder,” said Dr. Bharath Kumar, whose team has proposed a trial. Meanwhile, evidence against using hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus is growing. A U.S. study of 368 patients in veterans’ hospitals, the largest study yet examining the malaria drug’s value as a coronavirus antidote, found no benefits and even more deaths among those given the drug.
The Indian government’s own assessment of 19 drugs found that hydroxychloroquine wasn’t the most promising. A task force noted that while HCQ was readily available, the strength of scientific evidence for the mechanism of action was fairly low.
With more than 101,000 cases and 3,163 deaths, the coronavirus hasn’t yet overwhelmed India’s limited health care system. But that’s starting to change in some hot spots as a stringent weeks-long nationwide lockdown begins to ease, allowing for greater mobility of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
Nowhere is this clearer than in Maharashtra, the coastal state in central India bearing a third of India’s virus caseload. The state’s medical education and research agency has been administering hydroxychloroquine to patients in public hospitals and clinics, according to court records.
Agency chief Dr. Tatyarao P. Lahane said protocols set by India’s government were being followed and declined to answer further questions.
Dr. Shriprakash Kalantri of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Maharashtra said the government was recommending hydroxychloroquine for “off label,” or unapproved, use, meaning that patients must be told that “there is a small but significant risk that it might harm you.”
“If there is no evidence backed by solid clinical trials, then why are the scientific bodies pushing this drug and giving an impression to the public that this is a magic bullet and this is your last hope?” Kalantri said. (VOA/AP)
From historical times, human beings have been surviving, inspite of several types of diseases confronting them. In such conditions, medical science to safeguard human beings from diseases have been developed due to the compelling need for survival of humanity.
Traditional medicines :
In ancient India, there were reports of several medicinal practices and development of several types of drugs for treatment of different types of illness , which were mostly based on natural products and not developed by synthetic process. Traditionally, such Indian medical practices have been termed as Ayurveda, Siddha etc.
In other countries too, such traditional medical practices have prevailed under various names such as homeopathy , Unani etc.
In short, the world have been living with diseases from time immemorial and has been responding to the diseases by developing appropriate medical procedures from time to time.
Development of new diseases :
With the changing life style of people, development of synthetic production processes for cosmetics , chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, etc. and environmental hazards created by industrial operations and transportation, promotion of new food items etc. newer diseases have also been steadily arising.
Efforts of medical researchers :
The medical researchers have not lagged behind and have been developing new drugs and vaccines to treat the new and emerging diseases.
Some of the synthetic drugs developed for treatment of diseases were also reported to have side effects , which cause more diseases and sickness .
Regulatory authorities have been from, time to time, imposing ban on some of these drugs, due to unacceptable side effects, though the damage due to such banned drugs would have already happened.
COVID 19 latest addition :
COVID 19 is the latest addition to rest of diseases in the world.
Huge international efforts have now been taken up to identify the root cause of COVID 19 and develop appropriate drug / vaccine to treat the disease.
Given the past success ratings of medical researchers in handling other diseases, one can be hopeful that before long, appropriate drug / vaccine would also be developed to treat COVID 19 patients.
Limitations of medical research :
While the medical research have developed phenomenally , the medical research have not been able to prevent the occurrence of the disease , except in a few cases. Of course, in the case of polio attack, vaccines given to the children at the right time have largely eliminated the polio disease in the world.
However, this cannot be said about several of diseases such as cancer, influenza etc. which continue to occur at very high level and are being treated.
Similar situation may prevail in future in the case of COVID 19 too, with medical researchers unable to prevent it but only treat it.
Alarm due to COVID 19 :
In the case of COVID 19, the world has reacted with huge alarm , as if the COVID 19 would wipe out the entire human race.
Several world governments have declared lockdown and brought the global economy nearly to a half , like of which it has never happened before in human history.
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While the panicked world is still viewing COVID 19 with great fear and medical researchers are striving hard to develop treatment procedures, certainly the day will come when the world would reconcile itself to the prevalence of COVID 19 , just as it has reconciled itself to the prevalence of diseases like cancer, flu etc. and would also be prepared to treat the disease with appropriate procedures.
Is there over reaction to COVID 19 crisis ?:
Possibly, after six months or so from now, when COVID 19 crisis would settle down, the world community would look back at the COVID 19 crisis and would wonder whether the world has over reacted to the COVID 19.
The world would calculate the number of people infected by COVID 19, recovered and died. Then, after reading this calculations, the world would inevitably come to the conclusion that it has not been as bad at all as it was feared at one time, as the world community would remain intact after COVID-19 crisis.
It is estimated that around 0.15 million people die in the world every day due to various reasons such as old age, cancer, heart attack, kidney failure, virus attack etc. It translates to around 54 million people die in the world every year.
Till date, around 0.25 million people have died due to COVID-19 over the last four or five months.
Probably, when the COVID-19 crisis would end one day , the number of deaths due to COVID-19 could be just less than 1 million, considering worst scenario.
In future, after the end of present COVID-19 crisis such scale of deaths due to COVID-19 are unlikely, in view of the development of appropriate drugs to treat it.
This projected death figure of just less than one million due to the on going COVID19 crisis, do not add much to the worldwide death of 54 million every year in normal times.
Lives vis a vis livelihood debate :
Of course, death is natural and inevitable. It occurs for people in various age groups and due to natural / disease factors and unnatural factors such as accidents, murders, war etc. Every individual has to reconcile oneself to the inevitable event of death that would happen one day for everybody.
In such circumstances, is it appropriate that the world economy should have been brought down to the level of stagnant or decelerating growth over several months in the year 2020, fearing COVID-19.
Due to such near global lockdown, billions of poor people have been put to hardships , large number of people have lost the jobs, many production centres are facing closure and appears that it would take some time for the world to recover from this losses due to lockdown , fearing COVID 19.