Fresh from the Press


Reducing antimicrobial resistance with copper

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing issue across the globe, and one company is addressing its burden on healthcare through the innovative use of copper.

The World Health Organization has declared antimicrobial resistance as one of the biggest threats to human health, with drug-resistant diseases potentially killing up to 10 million each year by 2050. This is resulting in mounting cost pressures on healthcare systems, the private sector, and governments. Copper, one of the most recyclable materials available, is a potentially potent natural remedy which could reduce hospital-acquired infections without the use of antibiotics and its associated risks of antibiotic resistance.

Copper Clothing, which specialises in designing copper-infused antimicrobial products, has carried out three clinical trials in conjunction with the NHS to test the efficacy of copper-infused products as a solution to antimicrobial resistance.

Speaking to Health Europa’s Digital Editor Stephanie Price, Copper Clothing CEO, Rory Donnelly, discusses its clinical trials with the NHS, the impact of COVID-19 on antimicrobial resistance, and the unravelling of “nature’s biggest gift”.

Exploring the efficacy of copper

Copper has been used in medicine for thousands of years. In the Hippocratic Collection, copper is recommended for the treatment of leg ulcers associated with varicose veins, and according to the European Copper Alliance, Hippocrates treated open wounds and skin irritations with copper. The Copper Clothing NHS clinical trials explored the efficacy of the use of copper in C-sections, in stockings, and copper clothing compared to a common silver plaster, with further lab trials exploring its efficacy against MRSA, Staph infections and K. pneumoniae, as well as comparing its use to antimicrobial products that use silver and honey.

Donnelly said: “Copper Clothing has been researching and developing highly innovative means of infusing the power of copper into everyday products since 2012. The biggest barrier we still face today is a lack of trust and belief in new, genuine, transformational innovations. This is because they are so rare to find.


Winter Forest
Coronavirus, News

CQC outlines plans to monitor Infection Prevention and Control over winter

by CQC

Our infection prevention and control (IPC) inspections are already being rolled out across care locations in England and we will share the results of those inspections on our website in a simple and easy to access layout so that the public can be assured across a number of key criteria that a care location has an effective approach to infection prevention control. Over 400 IPC inspections reports have now been published on our website and from today the public will be able to have an accessible overview. In our IPC inspections we look to see that:

  • Adequate PPE is available for staff and residents to control infection safely
  • Staff are properly trained to deal with outbreaks and the proper procedures are in place
  • Shielding and social distancing are being complied with
  • The layout of premises, use of space and hygiene practice promote safety.


Red Blood Cells Flowing Through Vein
Coronavirus, News

Switching to lower carbon devices has the potential to reduce medicine costs

by Briain Kelly

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition and can occur when the body develops an infection which then affects the organs such as the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys.

It affects approximately 15,000 people in Ireland each year and can prove fatal if not treated quickly.

“Sepsis is a common time-dependent medical emergency which can affect a person of any age and can strike irrespective of underlying good health or medical conditions.,” said Helen Donovan, Sepsis Lead at Galway University Hospitals.


Coronavirus Vaccine
Coronavirus, News

North of England could face lockdown

Boris Johnson is considering putting the North on lockdown to deal with rising coronavirus infections, it’s claimed.

Reports say the Prime Minister is mulling his options as cases skyrocket in parts of England, with local lockdowns appearing to fail to stop it.

Mr Johnson is facing growing criticism on all sides for his handling of the pandemic, with many claiming rules are either ineffective or too complicated to keep track of.

It comes as the UK recorded another huge number of infections on Tuesday, with 12,594 more positive results bringing the nation’s total to around 530,000.

World Health Organisation hopes vaccine may be ready ‘by the end of this year’

A vaccine against COVID-19 may be ready by year-end, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.

“We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope,” Tedros said in final remarks to the WHO’s Executive Board, without elaborating.

Nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline of the WHO’s COVAX global vaccine facility that aims to distribute 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.


Coronavirus, News

Manchester now has highest coronavirus infection rate in the country – with positive tests doubling in a week

Graph illustrating how much Coronavirus cases have rose in the last 7 days

Manchester is the country’s coronavirus hotspot as new data shows it has the highest infection rate of any area in England.

Figures released by Public Health England show the 7-day rate in Manchester, has reached 495.6 cases per 100,000 population for the week ending on October 1.

The new high came as infection rates in every Greater Manchester borough were revised upwards after a government computer glitch meant thousands of positive test results were missed.

Public Health England said nearly 16,000 cases – which had not been reported over the previous ten days – had been added to the official data over the weekend.

Although all those who had positive tests were notified, it has been reported that the computer error may have led to delays in the test and trace system.

The glitch also means that local authorities in Greater Manchester – and the public – have not been aware of the true level of infections over the past ten days.

Coronavirus, News

Long COVID: How to define it and how to manage it

Nick Peters added to this definition by highlighting a “distinction between very sick people who have recovered to an extent and [and have been] left with some impact of their severe sickness, versus those who had a relatively mild sickness from the start, in whom it is ongoing.”

Alwan described the fluctuations of her own illness: “It’s a constant cycle of disappointment, not just to you but people around you, who really want you to recover.”

Paul Garner, who also has long covid, described it as a “very bizarre disease” that had left him feeling “repeatedly battered the first two months” and then experiencing lesser episodes in the subsequent four months with continual fatigue. “Navigating help is really difficult,” he said.

Tim Spector said that his team at the Covid Symptom Study had identified six clusters of symptoms for covid-19,1 a couple of which were associated with longer term symptoms, indicating a possible way of predicting early on what might occur. “If you’ve got a persistent cough, hoarse voice, headache, diarrhoea, skipping meals, and shortness of breath in the first week, you are two to three times more likely to get longer term symptoms,” he said.

He said that patterns in the team’s data suggested that long COVID was about twice as common in women as in men and that the average age of someone presenting with it was about four years older than people who had what might be termed as “short COVID.”

Source: The BMJ


Special formulation of inhaled niclosamide may be effective against SARS-CoV-2

Healthcare systems worldwide are overwhelmed by the raging COVID-19 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As the current number of global infections of SARS-CoV-2 nears 33 million individuals. An effective treatment or vaccine option is crucial and desperately needed.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is related to the earlier coronaviruses of SARS-CoV and the Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV).  Now in new research published on the preprint server bioRxix*. A novel formulation of the drug Niclosamide (NIC) is observed to be effective against  SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV in mouse models; it also protects against methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia and inflammatory lung damage. As oral formulation does not meet the required systemic concentration, this drug is delivered as an aerosol, using human lysozyme (hLYS) as a carrier molecule.

Micronized niclosamide (A) was embedded in a matrix of human lysozyme and stabilizers using spray drying (B). This novel system was developed as an alternative to traditional lactose-based carrier systems (C) and enabled the targeted respiratory delivery of NIC as a powder via DPI or a reconstituted suspension via nebulizer or nasal spray. The optimized formulation exhibited a size distribution that was appropriate for inhalation (i.e., geometric median diameter < 5 μm) in both the dry powder state as well as when reconstituted using water or 0.45% NaCl (D). Similar effects could not be achieved when a negatively charged protein, bovine serum albumin, was substituted in the formulation for the positively charged hLYS (E). Though hLYS is surface active, it appeared to only slightly enhance the dissolution of NIC compared to NIC particles blended with lactose (F). A respirable droplet size distribution could be achieved with multiple different reconstituted concentrations when nebulized using the Aerogen Solo (G). These concentrations resulted in no aggregation to the lysozyme component. Efficient aerosol delivery was achieved with both the nebulizer and disposable DPI, with ~50% of the emitted dose being of an appropriate size for lung deposition. This was significantly improved compared to a traditional lactose carrier particle system (H). Reproducible plume geometry could be achieved using a variety of reconstituted concentrations when actuated using the Aptar device (I). Data is presented as mean + SEM (n = 3). *p < 0.05, using two-way ANOVA with Tukey’s multiple comparisons test (comparisons of DPIs presented only).

In a strategy to assess and repurpose previously used drugs (against SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV), Ashlee D. Brunaugh et al. choose an FDA-approved anthelmintic (antiparasitic) drug called niclosamide (NIC) to study as a promising antiviral candidate. Niclosamide is listed as an Essential Medicine by WHO and has been in use for over 60 years. In their paper, the authors show the antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory efficacy of the NIC-hLYS powders evaluated in vitro and in vivo in MERS-CoV SARS-CoV-2 infected mouse models. Utilizing repurposed NIC with lysozyme, the study reports developing a therapeutically effective, rapidly scalable and globally distributable antiviral therapy to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Source: News Medical

Coronavirus, News

UK’s Covid-19 infections ‘almost 10 times official level’, says former WHO director as curfews loom

Covid Test
Covid Test

Britain’s coronavirus infection rate could be almost 10 times worse than official figures show, a world health expert has warned.

There were 3,991 new cases confirmed on Wednesday, about 50 per cent more than a week ago. At the height of the pandemic in April the numbers peaked at between 6,000-7,000.

Antony Costello, a former director at the World Health Organisation, spoke out as new local lockdown measures are expected for England’s north east and new restrictions to close restaurants early are considered.

“I’m hearing from a well-connected person that government now thinks, in absence of testing, there are 38,000 infections per day,” he tweeted.

Initially, he tweeted that Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is advising a new two-week national lockdown but he later stepped back that comment.

Publicly, government leaders are not speaking about a second lockdown but they are talking about ways to reduce the rising number of new cases.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a rise in deaths would follow the infection spike. He also said tough action was needed now to avoid a second wave and to save Christmas from lockdowns.

If coronavirus is allowed to rip across the country it will kill “an awful lot of people”, he warned.

In the north-east, about two million people live in the area being considered for a local lockdown that could be in place as early as today.



Antimicrobial resistance: The next big pandemic?


Josep Figueras and Anna Sagan from the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies focus here on antimicrobial resistance and ponder whether or not this could be the next big pandemic

The sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees in 2020. To date, over 800,000 people across the globe have succumbed to the deadly virus and, sadly, the count keeps on rising. With national economies plunging into contractions following many weeks of lockdowns, the full societal cost of the pandemic is yet to unravel.

Despite the existence of International Health Regulations (IHRs), national pandemic preparedness plans, and some high-profile warnings in recent years, COVID-19 has caught us all largely off guard.

After over nine months since the first case was reported, the virus remains present in most countries around the world and uncontrollable in some. With children back at schools and with health systems in the northern hemisphere preparing for the winter influenza season, it is unsurprising that COVID-19 continues to captivate the attention of the general public and public decision-makers alike.

The danger of antimicrobial resistance

Yet, there are other challenges that we must not forget about. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the urgent global health challenges of our times. AMR is the natural ability of microorganisms such as bacteria to become resistant to antimicrobial medicines. This Darwinian ability has always been present, and, in the past, we have responded to it by developing novel antibiotics and other antimicrobials. However, as global consumption of antibiotics in both humans and animals has increased and the antibiotic pipeline has dried up, AMR has increasingly put modern medicine under threat. In the relatively near future, AMR may render operations as easy as a wisdom tooth extraction, let alone hip replacement, organ transplant or cancer chemotherapy, impossible. The consequences of this may potentially be more severe and more difficult to contain than that of COVID-19.

Can AMR be mitigated?

Drug-resistant diseases already claim at least 700,000 lives globally and this number is estimated to rise to 10 million deaths each year by 2050 if no action is taken. In the EU alone, AMR causes the estimated death of 33,000 individuals every year and costs the bloc about €1.5 billion per annum in healthcare costs and productivity losses.

However, this burden can be reduced significantly by implementing effective intersectoral policies. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) review policies that are currently in place and show how this can be achieved affordably and cost-effectively. AMR is a threat we know and can mitigate.

But unlike COVID-19, the danger of AMR has been creeping up on us silently and gradually and it has taken time for the seriousness of this threat to trickle down to the public consciousness. Further, the complexity of the problem and the need for an integrated response across human, animal and environmental sectors can prove challenging. In many countries, AMR is still perceived more as a human health problem and there is insufficient coordination across sectors. Yet, international and national efforts to combat AMR have increased substantially over the past two decades, and a number of important positive developments can be noted.


Coronavirus, News

Information about molecular shape of viruses that cause COVID-19, SARS, and MERS reveals structural similarities

Molecular structure of the papain-like enzyme known as PLPro. This enzyme allows the viruses that cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 to infect cells and replicate and suppress the host’s immune function. Now that the enzyme structure is known in detail, new antiviral drugs can be designed. Credit: Jack Henderson, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

COVID-19 is known to be caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2, which is similar in structure to two other viruses that have caused recent outbreaks. SARS-CoV, which caused an outbreak of SARS in 2003, and MERS-CoV, the cause of a 2012 outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

In the Journal of Chemical Physics, scientists from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy report molecular-level investigations of these three viruses, providing a possible pathway to new antiviral drugs to fight all three diseases. At the present time, no effective treatment or drugs exist for any of these coronavirus diseases.

The investigators looked at a viral protein that plays a key role in the ability of the virus to replicate itself once inside the body. This protein also plays a role in defeating the host’s immune system, so it provides a particularly attractive target for potential drug treatments.

The protein, an enzyme known as the papainlike protease, PLPro, is nearly identical in SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV but is slightly different in MERS-CoV. Very recently, the first structural X-ray of this enzyme revealed a shape in the catalytic domain somewhat like a hand with a “thumb,” “palm,” and “fingers.”