New drug candidates, treatments offer reasons for hope


A team of Chinese-based researchers found a new candidate drug against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The so-called protease of the virus — that is, a type of enzyme without which the virus cannot survive — was the starting point of the scientists’ efforts.
Using two compounds, which they dubbed 11a and 11b, the team managed to inhibit this protease. Then, they monitored the antiviral activity of these two compounds and found that the substances successfully fought the infection.
Finally, experiments in mice suggested that scientists could safely administer the two compounds via several routes, including an IV drip. However, final animal tests in rats and Beagle dogs revealed that 11a is less toxic, so the scientists focused on this one compound.
There is no human equivalent to the enzyme that the compound targets. And this, the researchers explain, minimizes the likelihood of severe side effects in humans. Rather than developing new compounds from scratch, researchers led by Prof. Nevan J. Krogan, from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) took another route and looked at existing drugs in search of suitable candidates for the fight against SARS-CoV-2.
The scientists say that PB28, which is an experimental drug, was 20 times more potent than the anti malarial hydroxyl chloroquine at deactivating SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, it may be a lot safer at higher doses.
However, Prof. Krogan and the team stress the importance of testing these compounds in animals and then in extensive clinical studies. They also note the limitations of their research, which they conducted in cell cultures.
HEALTH AND WELL-BEING IMPROVED BY SPENDING TIME IN THE GARDEN: A study by a team of researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the Royal Horticultural Society, a UK charity, has found that having access to a private garden improves people’s health and well-being if they actively make use of it.
The research, which appears in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, shines a light on the value of private green space, as well as public green space. It also raises questions about the equity of access to these spaces.
However, less research has focused on the role of access to and use of gardens for people’s health and well-being. Dr Sin de Bell, of the University of Exeter Medical School and lead author of the present study, says that “[a] growing body of evidence points to the health and well-being benefits of access to green or coastal spaces.


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