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Showing posts with label DUHS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DUHS. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

'DUHS researchers make COVID-19 breakthrough'

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The researchers at Karachi’s Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), on April 13, claimed having achieved a significant breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19.

They, according to a DUHS press release, have succeeded in preparing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) with plasma obtained from cured patients of coronavirus. “Through the IVIG the coronavirus patients can be treated.” 

The researchers, led by Dr Shaukat Ali, Principal, Dow College of Biotechnology, were of the view that their method was considerably different from plasma therapy, which is allowed only in emergencies due to its side effects. “Treating a coronavirus patient with IVIG is safe and highly effective, with small risk.” 

They further remarked that the treatment by hyper immunoglobulin (H-IVIG) is already approved by the US Federal agency, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for normal conditions. 

The press release said that the research team has developed this H-IVIG after days of continuous hard work. “The team was able to collect first blood sample in March 2020 and managed to isolate antibodies chemically, purified it and later concentrated these antibodies."

It was further stated that this happened to be the first global report of isolation, formulation and safety demonstration of immunoglobulin purified from recovered COVID-19 patient and can be a ray of hope in this time of crisis when the country is faced with coronavirus. 

“The method is also a type of passive immunization but uses purified antibodies rather than the whole plasma. The treatment does not carry the undesired component of blood like plasma proteins, potential bacterial and viral pathogens,” the DUHS communication quoted the researcher group saying such purified antibodies are commercially available globally against diseases like tetanus, rabies, Influenza and hepatitis. 

“Laboratory testing and safety trial of the formulated product (experimental vials) in animals have been successful,” it added. 

In the meantime, the university Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr M Saeed Quraishy has assigned task to clinicians at Dow hospital to team up with researchers to devise a strategy for fulfilling ethical and regulatory requirements for trials. 

The members of the IVIG research team included Dr Shobha Luxmi, Syed Muneebuddin, Mir Rashid Ali, Ayesha Ali, Mujtaba Khan, Fatima Anjum and Dr Sohaib Tauheed.

Friday, April 10, 2020

DUHS researchers working on COVID-19

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The researchers at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) have explored natural mutations which, according to them, can withstand the novel coronavirus in human genes.

The experts associated with the DUHS’ Dow College of Biotechnology (DCB) reckoned that the recent research will help to determine/allocate the medical resources for the global outbreak of the coronavirus.

“The coronavirus, due to the identified mutations in the human gene can be ineffective in the human body,” a group of doctors working under the supervision of Dr Mushtaq Hussain, DCB Vice-Principal, stated. 

According to the DUHS press release, Dr Mushtaq Hussain and his team, including Dr Nusrat Jabeen, Fozia Raza, Sanya Shabbir, Ayesha Ashraf Baig, Anusha Amanullah and Basma Aziz,, has discovered mutations in the ACE2 gene/protein of thousands of humans via genomic data mining. 

It was disclosed that this research has recently been published in the International magazine of Virology, Journal of Medical Virology. 

The researchers in their meeting with DUHS Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr M Saeed Quraishy apprised him of the scientific work and remarked that the human genomes of individuals from China, Latin America and some European countries were included in the data mining. 

“ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) protein is a molecule to which SARS-CoV-2, causative agent of COVID-19, binds at the very initial phase of the infection, the vice chancellor was informed.  
By extensive structural modeling and docking techniques, the researchers predicted that two mutations, S19P and E329G, in ACE2 may make humans (with these mutations) naturally resistant to COVID-19 infection.

“Screening of COVID-19 patients for the presence of these mutations will in turn help in predicting the prognosis of the disease and allocation of the limiting resources,” the researchers noted. 

In the meantime, DUHS VC has said that at Dow University, research is being carried out on COVID-19 on various aspects, and researchers were getting positive results. He hoped that such efforts will help save human beings from the global coronavirus epidemic.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Coronavirus research: ‘More steps are due’

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Following the recent release of details of a ‘half-done’ study related to whole genome sequencing of locally spread coronavirus by a research centre at the University of Karachi (KU), the scientists at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) on April 1 declared that virus in question collected from a boy by them for research purposes had come from Saudi Arabia.

“The virus transmitted to the boy locally has come from Saudi Arabia and infected 15 patients of same family, which indicates that the local spread of this virus is very fast,” a DUHS press release quoted the medical experts of the University and added that team of experts were continuing analyzing the Coronavirus sequence and more steps were yet to be taken.

Earlier, the KU researchers had claimed in a press release that the genome sequencing of Coronavirus collected from a local patient having a travel history was complete. 

“The virus examined at Jamil-ur-Rahman Centre for Genome Research of KU was more closely related to the virus from China.” 

The scientists, who worked under the leadership of DUHS Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Saeed Quraishi, said that the novel Corona Virus 2019 (SARS-COV-2) was changing its genetics according to Pakistan’s local conditions. 

The DUHS information regarding genome sequencing of locally spread virus will help in treatment, diagnostics and vaccine development, according to them. 

A DUHS press release said that the research was in its initial stage and the sequencing has been done with the cooperation of a KU centre, while the fully equipped modern biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) virology lab at DUHS was used for the isolation of ribonucleic acid (RNA) from the sample, a crucial and dangerous exercise indeed. 

“The presence of virus was confirmed through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) at Dow University.” It was further said that the DUHS research revealed that the sequence of this virus was slightly different from Wuhan virus with few mutations. 

“This virus has originated in China and came to Pakistan through Saudi Arabia.” 

Moreover, the scientists noted, this was just one of the investigated cases, while ‘they are in the process of analyzing many other samples of Coronavirus that have been transmitted from other countries including Iran, Iraq, Syria, the United Kingdom, the United States and others’.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Coronavirus: Indigenous research generates concerns

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The release of details of a ‘half-done’ study by a group of scientists at the University of Karachi, claiming that their analysis of the whole genome sequence of coronavirus will be helpful in decision making at national level for the use of future therapeutic options and vaccinations, has generated concerns among experts. 

A press release of the university quoted Prof M Iqbal Choudhary, Director of Director of International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), saying this was the first indigenously sequenced whole genome of Coronavirus from Pakistan. 

“Analysis of the sequence revealed nine mutations in the different regions of genome, as compared to the sequence reported from Wuhan, China,” where the virus originated three months back.

“Mutation is change which appears in the DNA of all organisms and viruses, Dr Choudhary said, adding that comparison with genomes from other parts of the world revealed that virus examined at Jamil-ur-Rahman Center for Genome Research was more closely related to the virus from China, the point from where the pandemic was started. 

A day earlier, a senior scientist from the University had claimed that the virus was different than the one in Wuhan and was less harmful, said a scientist requesting secrecy. 

The technique that allows researchers to read and decipher the genetic information found in the DNA of anything from bacteria to plants to animals is called genomic sequencing. 

"In pandemic it becomes more important to monitor the way, rate and nature of mutations which may have impact on effectiveness of future therapies and vaccinations," the ICCBS director said while recommending that more genomes from Pakistani patients were sequenced to understand the full spectrum of genetic variations, and the way the virus was evolving here.

Interestingly, the research details did not mention the age, gender and place of treatment of the patient from whom the RNA was drawn for the scientific research at the KU facility in question. 

It was claimed in the press release that the genome sequencing of Coronavirus collected from a local patient having a travel history was complete now. 

An enquiry conducted by this scribe in the matter revealed that the sample was drawn from a child belonging to a locally infected cluster of people. 

“The subject in question has never visited abroad,” claimed a source privy to the handling of the oropharyngeal swab specimen obtained for genome sequence at a public sector medical university.

In the meantime, experts have termed the development a premature assessment, rather a ridiculous move as the KU Centre needed to seek more such samples from different hospitals. 

They are also silent about the in question traveler's exact place of visit. “Why does not the solitary scientist in question interact with experts related to the subject?” “We need to apply our experts' brain and support as well along with the machines”, said a keen observer, adding that efforts should be made to ensure protection and treatment out of the available resources. 

Meanwhile a senior microbiologist and pathologists at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Prof M Saeed Khan, in a television interview, said that the research details pertained to a collaborative study undertaken by a KU centre and Dow university, but it was difficult to draw any conclusion about the behaviour of the virus at this stage, particularly when the human genetic in the country is different from other parts of the world. 

“The virus under study was isolated by DUHS scientists from among a sizeable number of Coronavirus patients, while it is anticipated that research would move out of the initial stage,” he added.