Sunday February 23, 2020

Skin Cream Used To Treat Warts, Skin Cancer May Help in Fighting Against Dengue, Zika Viruses

By boosting the immune system and not targeting a specific virus, this strategy has the potential to be a 'silver bullet' for a wide range of distinct mosquito-borne viral diseases

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A study shows that a clinically approved, widely used skin cream has the potential to be repurposed as a valuable protector against insect-borne diseases. Pixabay

A skin cream used to treat warts and skin cancer could help protect people against viral diseases such as Zika and dengue, according to new study.

The cream, called imiquimod or Aldara, is commonly used to treat genital warts and some forms of skin cancer.

“This study shows that a clinically approved, widely used skin cream has the potential to be repurposed as a valuable protector against insect-borne diseases,” said study lead author Clive McKimmie, from the University of Leeds in UK.

For the findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers studied four types of virus transmitted by mosquitos and found that applying a cream within an hour of a mosquito bite dramatically reduced infection rates in their models.

They used two different models to understand the effect of the skin cream – human skin samples and mice. In both cases, applying the skin cream acted like a warning signal which caused a rapid activation of the skin’s immune response that fights any potential viral threats. This prevented the virus from spreading around the body and causing disease.

“What is especially encouraging about our results is that the cream was effective against a number of distinct viruses, without needing to be targeted to one particular virus,” McKimmie said. “If this strategy can be developed into a treatment option then we might be able to use it to tackle a wide range of new emerging diseases that we have not yet encountered,” McKimmie added.

There are hundreds of viruses spread by biting mosquitoes which can infect humans. These include the dengue virus, West Nile virus, Zika virus and chikungunya virus, which have all had large outbreaks in recent years. At present, there are no anti-viral medicines and few vaccines to help combat these infections.

According to the researchers, when a mosquito bites the skin, the body reacts in a very specific way to try and mitigate the physical trauma of the skin being punctured. The bite causes a wound healing repair mechanism to begin, however, the skin does not prepare itself to respond to viral attack. This means mosquito-borne viruses that enter the skin through a bite are able to replicate quickly with little anti-viral response in the skin and then spread throughout the body, the study said.

Cream, Lotion, Hands, Sunscreen, Spa, Skin, Wellness
A skin cream used to treat warts and skin cancer could help protect people against viral diseases such as Zika and dengue, according to new study. Pixabay

By applying skin cream after a bite, researchers found that they could pre-emptively activate the immune system’s inflammatory response before the virus becomes a problem. The cream encouraged a type of immune cell in the skin, called a macrophage, to suddenly spring into action to fight off the virus before it could spread around the body.

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“By boosting the immune system and not targeting a specific virus, this strategy has the potential to be a ‘silver bullet’ for a wide range of distinct mosquito-borne viral diseases,” said study co-author Steven Bryden. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Surgery Can be an Effective Way To Overcome Obesity at an Early Age

According to the researchers, for many diseases, early treatment is advantageous, but individuals with early-onset obesity have often had their disorder for a long time before bariatric surgery is considered

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Obesity
According to the researchers, for many diseases, early treatment is advantageous, but individuals with early-onset obesity have often had their disorder for a long time before bariatric surgery is considered. Pixabay

 Researchers have found that surgical treatment of obesity is as effective for individuals who developed the disorder early, by the age of 20, as for those who have developed obesity later in life.

The results, published in the journal Diabetes Care, are based on data from the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study.

For the fndings, the researchers covered a total of 4,026 adult individuals who had developed obesity. Half of them had undergone bariatric surgery and the other half were a control group.

“We were somewhat surprised at the results. Since the group that had already developed obesity by the age of 20 had been exposed to obesity and its risks for longer periods, we’d expected that bariatric surgical treatment in these participants would be less effective in terms of weight loss and obesity-related sequelae than in the other group. But it wasn’t like that,” said study researcher Johanna Andersson Assarsson from University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Each of the groups was divided into three subgroups, based on the participants’ body mass index (BMI) at age 20: those of normal weight, those who were overweight, and those with obesity.

The researchers then investigated whether there was any difference in the effects of bariatric treatment for obesity among those who had developed the disorder before age 20, compared with those who developed it later in life.

“On the contrary, the group with obesity at age 20 lost a little bit more weight after the operation, and there was no difference in effects on diabetes or its complications, cardiovascular disease or cancer, compared with individuals who developed obesity later in life,” Assarsson said.

Slimming, The Weight Of The, Health, Lifestyle
Researchers have found that surgical treatment of obesity is as effective for individuals who developed the disorder early, by the age of 20, as for those who have developed obesity later in life. Pixabay

According to the researchers, for many diseases, early treatment is advantageous, but individuals with early-onset obesity have often had their disorder for a long time before bariatric surgery is considered.

It has sometimes been speculated that bariatric surgical treatment would be less effective in these individuals because of their longer exposure to the adverse health effects of obesity.

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“Here, we show that’s not the case. And we think it’s important that this information reaches people considering bariatric surgery for obesity and also health professionals who treat patients with obesity,” Assarsson said. (IANS)